Spring is coming and when it arrives, plenty of cabin fevered boaters are going to be looking for new places to enjoy their sport.  Some will head for lively spots like Lake Erie, Pymatuning, or Buckeye Lake, but others might be yearning for a quiet place where they can see pretty country and spend a few easy going days enjoying both scenery and lots of low key activities.  For this group, Dillon Lake is worth a close look.

Dillon, 1,560 acres of water surrounded by Dillon State Park in Muskingum County near Zanesville lies in gentle hills and valleys dominated by Black Hand sandstone and dense timber that’s mostly oak, maple, and beech.  The lake is widest near the dam, tapering down gradually to the Licking River which flows into its northwest end, and has a surprising abundance of quiet coves and inlets.

It’s a good place for boaters.  Dillon has unlimited horsepower and four boat ramps, two improved launches near the dam, one at the marina at the end of Dillon Hills Drive, and a small launch that’s best suited for a small boat dropoff.  A boat concession offers boat/motor rental, fuel, fishing and boating supplies, and snacks with seventy docks available for rent on a seasonal basis.  Anything a visiting boater might need.  And while it’s exhilarating to race up and down the main lake, you might choose to take a canoe and spend a few hours exploring those coves and inlets at a slow and leisurely pace.

Take along a rod or two on any excursion because Dillon offers good fishing, good enough to host occasional tournaments.  Species waiting for your hook include largemouth bass, muskies, bluegill, crappie, and channel cats, and bass anglers particularly make good catches of largemouths, especially along Poverty and Big Run, down near the dam, shorelines with nice structure, and an area known as Dillon Falls.  The fish are happy to hit pig and jig combinations, spinnerbaits, and plastic worms most days. 

A good fish locator is a wise investment in Dillon as at any lake, and with persistence angling boaters will find the narrow channel as well as little pockets with bottom structure where fish, especially channel cats, like to hole up during daylight hours.  Don’t forget shoreline cover in this average 13 foot deep lake (33 feet near the dam) since crappie run to serious sizes and favor minnows and small jigs around drowned timber.

Accommodations are excellent near the lake, with 29 family cabins nestled in woods overlooking the north shore.  Each has air conditioning, color cable tv, gas heat, two bedrooms, electric cooking facilities, even a screened in porch for evening relaxation.  Call 1-866-OHIOPARKS for renting details.  Boaters who liked their accommodations more rustic can choose one of 195 campsites for tents or trailers.  Most have electricity, and the campground has flush toilets, showers, and a dump station.  Any boater who forgets vital groceries like hotdogs and buns will find necessities at a commissary near the check-in station.  Hard to go wrong here.

What can you do after sampling the boating and fishing?  Bird watching is just as good as you’d expect with plenty of shorebirds, especially herons and egrets, wild turkey, and small woodland species that flit here and there in the undergrowth.  There are 8 miles of hiking trails, the six mile long Licking Bend Trail, as well as shorter walks along the one mile Blackberry Ridge and the mile and a half long Hickory Grove Loop.

Boaters who like to practice with weaponry will find lighted trap and skeet fields with high, low, and combination houses, a 100 yard rifle range and 25 yard pistol range with firing line shelter and tables.  Hunting with shotgun and longbow is popular in season, and duck hunting can be productive.

In idle moments, boaters might like to travel to famous Flint Ridge where native Americans gathered flint for tools and weapons or drive ten miles to the Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve.  At the Longaberger Homestead near Frazeysburg they can browse through gift shops and make their own heirloom basket.  Or enjoy shopping in the quaint little village of Dresden with its antique shops and gift emporiums.  Don’t forget the Colony Square mall in Zanesville, a ride on the Lorena Sternwheeler, and a look at the Muskingum  River State Park with its hand operated lock system. 

Lots to do, plenty to see, peace and quiet, or busy sightseeing.  It’s all waiting at Dillon.  For additional tourism information about Muskingum County, don’t hesitate to call 1-800-BUCKEYE.  For more park information, call the Park Office at (740) 453-4377.  Spring is coming soon, and Dillon is worth a visit.

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