Find your peace at Cowan Lake State Park
Story and photos by Tom Barr
It’s surprisingly quiet … and quite relaxing.
Birds are singing as a few families ride their bikes around the lake and through the woods, where others are hiking.
Many of those families are outside their RV’s or tents having their morning coffee or orange juice. Others are preparing their boats and kayaks for the water.
As the sun rises well above the horizon at Cowan Lake State Park near Wilmington in Clinton County — even with hundreds of RV’s and dozens of tents in place at the campgrounds — not much non-nature sound is noticed beyond a few folks in conversation.
No music is playing … no loud vehicles are buzzing by — even though it’s a holiday weekend.
Cowan Lake State Park is nearly 1,800 acres with a peaceful lake setting, mature trees and wooded shoreline. The lake itself is about 700 acres. And there are seven hiking trails ranging from easy to moderate and from a half-mile to 2.5 miles.
It features 237 electric campground sites (and 17 non-electric) with showerhouse, flush toilets, laundry facilities, camper’s beach, and four boat launch ramps. South Shore Marina offers boats, canoes and motors for rent as well as fishing and picnic supplies for sale.
There even a season campstore with grill, merchandise and hand-dipped ice cream (as well as bait).
Need a few more “creature comforts” that even an RV can’t provide? Cowan Lake’s many cottages are air-conditioned and heated cottages feature furnished living areas, complete kitchens, color TV (with roof antenna), cooking and eating utensils, bed linens and towels. And reservations may be made up to a year in advance.
And many have a beautiful lake view, with all cottages nestled in the woods near the edge of the lake.
You can also get quite an education at Cowan Lake State Park. Visit the Naturalist Cabin and the Nature Center and see a history of the region. And visit up close with the red-tailed hawk (which was rescued after being found with an injury) and now has a permanent home here, as well as the resident barred owl and the American kestrel — the smallest form of falcon.
There are now two nests of bald eagles within the park. And a brown pelican even stopped by recently.
The non-profit Friends Caring for Cowan Lake State Park helps see that there are plenty more activities taking place year ‘round including the annual Cowan Lake Fest, Antlers & Eggs, Spring Into Wildflowers, Welcome to the Paw Paw Patch, Fall Camp Out, Pollination Celebration! and even the Winter Hike.
The group’s mantra is “to be an advocate for Cowan Lake State Park. To preserve and enhance the natural resources in cooperation with various departments of the State of Ohio. To protect nature and wildlife and to enhance the boating experience on Cowan Lake. To support State projects, conduct events and raise funds and support grants; to provide volunteer labor, promote the Park with legislative and government personnel, Support and cooperate with other groups promoting Cowan Lake State Park and educate and attract the public to use the Park.”
As for what’s new, Wade Hall of Friends Caring for Cowan Lake State Park said, “We are in the process of putting in a self-guided nature trail at the nature center. Some of the stations on the trail will be American bald eagle, pollinator garden, pollinators, native Ohio wildflowers mural, treetop canopy mural, nocturnal wildlife, fossils, raptors, animal tracks, box turtles and an Ohio native wildflower garden.”
You can learn more about the group and its activities at its Facebook page, “Friends Caring for Cowan Lake State Park.”
For more info, visit cowanlakestatepark.com.