How do you like your weekends or vacations?  Rugged and rustic?  Ultra-modern with all of the amenities?  You can find either at Lake Hope, a 120 acre lake that waits in Vinton County not far from McArthur in southeastern Ohio.  This pretty woodland lake is a fish-hook shaped body of water surrounded by 2,983 acre Lake Hope State Park and it does indeed offer something for almost any boater.

For those who like fine and comfortable living, there are 46 cottages which are designated as Wildlife, Iron Furnace, and Forest cottages.  The latter two are finished in native hardwood, have wood burning fireplaces, and names like Buckeye, Black Oak, and Basswood, all named after the locally milled wood used to finish their interiors.   Boaters who want to bring LOTS of friends might want to rent rustic Laurel Lodge, a group lodge with eight sleeping rooms, a large kitchen, and a sitting/dining area with a huge stone fireplace. 

Those who like their lodging more rustic should enjoy the nice 219 site campground.  It’s a pretty place for tent campers, and for boaters who haul RV vehicles, there are 46 sites with electric hookups.  It’s a cozy campground with heated showerhouses, pit latrines, waste disposal, and laundry facilites.  Maybe best of all for those who like to travel with Rover, pets are permitted.  And if you’d like to try camping and have no equipment, the park provides three Rent-A-Camp units, a camper-cabin, and a Rent-A-Teepee.

There’s plenty to do around this rural lake.  Boaters with their own craft can roam the fishhook-shaped lake using electric motors only, and explore its bays and backwaters while keeping an eye open for the plentiful beaver here, their lodges, and shore cuttings.  If you don’t bring a boat, canoes, kayaks, and row boats can be rented.  For casual use, don’t miss the swimming beach and picnic areas, nice places for a lazy afternoon.

Fishing is good, too, so don’t forget a rod and tackle box.  Largemouth bass average 1 – 3 pounds, but occasionally reach a whopping eight, and locals like to use large live minnows below a float along the banks or work shoreline cover with plastic worms and spinnerbaits. Channel cats might reach a very serious 20 pounds, and are caught on shrimp and cutbait near the dam all summer, and there are some dandy bluegill and redear sunfish.  Bait is available  at the beach concession and there’s a fairly primitive launch ramp off Route 278.

Boaters who like to hike and see wildlife will find 17 miles of hiking trails around the lake and nearby woodlands, and in the adjacent state forest, a 21 mile backpack trail and primitive campsites is available.  The trails range from easy and pleasant like the Hebron Hollow Trail (1.5 miles) and the Peninsula Trail (3 miles) to the more challenging Zaleski Backpack Trail (a 23.5 mile loop).  Wildlife is plentiful in this second growth forest with whitetail deer, wild turkey, and squirrels waiting in the oak and hickory woodlands, and rabbits and meadow birds in occasional openings and meadows.

The whole area is steeped in history, much of it based on iron furnaces and coal which is why the area has second growth timber, rather than huge old trees that several men couldn’t surround.  The Hope Furnace was built here over 100 years ago to process iron ore extracted from the region’s sandstone bedrock, and hundreds of men worked to cut wood, work furnaces, and extract iron, much of which went for cannon to protect the Union Army. 

There are other places to see nearby, like Hocking Hills with its Old Man’s Cave, Marietta with riverboats and historic museums, Lake Alma State Park, and lots of little towns and villages with antique shops and country stores.  For detailed information on Lake Hope, call (740) 596-5253 or visit Lake Hope State Park on the web.  It’s a good place with lots to offer.

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