Imagine racing across a beautiful lake in a powerboat or jet ski, sending a plume of white spray behind or sailing under clear skies with a steady wind and strong sails. Enter a quiet cove to cast a line and catch bass, bluegill or crappie, or glide slowly past an ever-changing shoreline with the only sounds of canoe or kayak paddles dipping into the water. If any of these scenarios sound appealing, plan a visit to Harsha Lake today. William H. Harsha Lake offers 2,160 water acres for boating enthusiasts of all types. Six launch ramps, including one for registered campers only, offer easy access to any area of the lake.
All Ohio DNR Division of Watercraft regulations apply. A no-wake zone extends 300 feet from shore around the entire lake. No-wake zones are also marked in narrow channels and around launch ramps. Boats are not permitted in the area adjacent to the dam and control tower.
Boat Ramp Availability
No fees are charged to launch your boat at William H. Harsha Lake. Boat ramps are normally available year-round except during construction activity or times of high water or other unsafe conditions, such as ice-covered ramps. The Corps and Northshore Boat Ramps may be closed and access to the west bay may be restricted during special events such as rowing regattas. Check the Events Page for dates.
East Fork State Park operates a 416-site class A campground located off SR 32 at the Half Acre Road exit. Each site includes 30 or 50 amp electric hook up, a paved pad, a picnic table and a campfire grill. Several full-hook up sites are also available. The campground offers four cedar cabins and four camper cabins. Seventeen sites are designated for campers with horses.
The campground also offers two walking trails, a beach and boat ramp exclusively for registered campers. Campsites are now reserveable by calling 1 (866) 644-6727 or at Ohio State Parks.
Four primitive campsites are available to backpackers who register to hike the Steve Newman World Walker Perimeter Trail or the Backpack Trail.
Tailwater Recreation Area – This area offers fourteen picnic tables with grills that are always available on a first come, first serve basis. A picnic shelter with eight tables and two grills may be reserved.
Corps Boat Ramp – This cozy site offers five tables with grills and is popular with boaters and anglers. This site is not reservable.
East Fork State Park Picnic Areas
Matt Maupin Pavillion - Located at the Main Beach, this large shelter has a sweeping view of the lake and is open to picknicking on a first-come, first serve basis at this time.
Beech Grove – Located just above the Beach on Park Road # 2, this site offers tables and a grill, and is shaded most of the day.
Indian Mound – Located on Park Road # 2 across from Park Road # 3, this area has a shelter that is available on a first-come, first-serve basis and several picnic sites. The Elk Lick Indian Mound can also be found at this site.
Apple Blossom Meadow – This area is located on Park Road # 1. It includes tables and a grill, and is shaded most of the time.
Children will enjoy the playground equipment recently added to the Tailwater Recreation Area. It is located near picnic sites, a reservable picnic shelter and fishing access. You will also find a playground at the Williamsburg Community Park and within the East Fork Campground in Loop C.
Fishing and Hunting
The beautiful waters of William H. Harsha Lake offer innumerable opportunities to catch the "Big One." Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife stocks the lake with hybrid striped bass and walleye, providing the angler with two of the most thrilling game fishes found in inland waters. Crappie, bass, bluegill and channel catfish can be caught in the lake and tailwater. Fly fishing has also become popular in the river downstream from the dam. Anglers may fish anywhere along the lake shoreline except boat docks and ramps, and immediately below the Control Tower.
Approximately 5,000 acres of public land is open to hunting at William H. Harsha Lake. Hunters need to be aware of the various restrictions. Most of the area is managed by the Division of Parks and Recreation. Sunday hunting is not permitted on park administered land.
East Fork State Wildlife Area and the open water area of the lake are open to hunting during legal times and dates, including Sundays.
All Ohio DNR fishing and hunting regulations apply. Fishing and hunting maps are available from the Ohio DNR Division of Wildlife. Copies are also available at the Corps of Engineers Visitor Center and the East Fork State Park office. For general wildlife information, visit the Division of Wildlife website.
For more information contact:
Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Division of Wildlife District 5 Office
1076 Old Springfield Pike
Xenia, OH 45385
Phone: (937) 372-9261
East Fork State Wildlife Area Manager
c/o Indian Creek Wildlife Area
4258 Snow Hill Road
Fayetteville, OH 45118
Phone: (513) 875-2111
Ohio State Park regulations restrict swimming to the following designated areas at William H. Harsha Lake:
Swimming is only permitted at East Fork State Park's Main South Beach located off State Route 125. Registered campers may swim at the Camper's Beach. Swimming is not permitted in non-designated areas such as boat launching sites, designated mooring points and public docks. Swimming is also not permitted along the lake's shoreline.
Lifeguards are not provided, swim at one's own risk.
State Park regulations state that flotation devices may not be used while swimming. U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets may be worn.
Boaters may swim from their boats in the designated area only. The Boat Swim Area is the wide cove between the Main Beach and Tate Boat Ramp.
Ohio State Parks require permission of the State Park Manager to scuba dive in Ohio State Parks.
If you have questions about swimming, contact the park manager at (513) 734-4323. For information about water quality monitoring at East Fork State Park's two swimming beaches, click here.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Visitor Center is located at 2185 Slade Road, Batavia, OH 45103. Note: if you use GPS or MapQuest, you will need to drive one and ahalf miles further on Slade Road. The Visitor Center has a stone patio, large windows, cedar beams and stone walls. The Visitor Center houses permanent displays about area history, flood control, wildlife management and natural history. Short-term displays on various topics are rotated throughout the year, so you will see something new almost any time you visit. The younger set will enjoy the Children's Corner with puzzles, puppets and a touch table, plus a Wildlife Viewing Window. Check out our Events page so you don't miss any fun activities. Boaters and other water enthusiasts will find a wide selection of water and boating safety brochures and give-aways. Make sure you take home a water safety message!
Families and others with children should not leave the visitor center without a School Break Activity Guide! Inside you will find fun activities that will make your visit even more enjoyable.
Fossil and geology enthusiasts will enjoy the Fossils of an Ancient Sea display and fossil brochure. Afterward, search for your own ancient sea creatures in the nearby emergency spillway.
Facilities near the Visitor Center include an overlook, intimate picnic shelter, half-mile interpretive trail, and native wildflower gardens that attract butterflies and depict prairie plants. Also in the Corps Operations Area are a four-lane boat ramp plus shoreline fishing access, emergency spillway with model airplane field, and the Tailwater Recreation Area with a larger picnic shelter, hiking trail and fishing access.
M-F 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Year round
S&S 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Spring/Fall
S&S 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Summer