There are plenty of man-made lakes in Ohio, but very few natural ones, and most of those few are small, gouged out when the last glacier receded about 10,000 years ago.  But there’s one large one, 90 acre Punderson Lake, a clear, sparkling body of water that’s deep and cold and offers some interesting activities for visiting boaters fleeing Cleveland, Akron, and other well populated areas for a day or week.

Punderson is in northeastern Ohio, specifically in Geauga County off State Route 87.  It’s a unique spot with a lodge like no other, residing on land originally bought by the Lemuel Punderson family.  The lodge is an English Tudor-style house built in 1929 on a hill overlooking the lake and with its 31 guest rooms, dining and meeting rooms and outdoor and indoor swimming pool is far different from any other state park lodge.  An estimated 500,000 people visit pretty little Punderson Lake with its 741 acres of surrounding state park, and while the total area is small, they find plenty to do.

Fishing, for example, is as unusual as the Tudor lodge.  The lake is deep and clear, up to 75 feet in mid-lake, and while it has good action for largemouth bass, and fair numbers of panfish and cats, the big attraction here is golden trout, some of which run to several pounds.  The lake is stocked yearly with these pretty color phases of a rainbow trout, and territory near the marina is a hotspot for those fishing deep with waxworms, corn, cheese, worms, and salmon eggs.  They’re caught through the winter ice too, on much the same offerings.  Largemouth bass are taken mostly in spring and early summer by anglers fishing the shoreline with crankbaits and spinnerbaits.

Boaters who simply want to explore like this little lake with its scenic coves and clear water, and spend pleasant hours probing its shallow areas  There’s a small marina concession with rental boats in season on the north  end of the lake, along with a launch ramp for those who bring their own craft.  Electric motors only are permitted, and many use no motors at all, launching canoes and kayaks to paddle and explore the area.

Those who choose not to enjoy Punderson’s unusual lodge will still find plenty of facilities.  For example there are 26 cottages that sleep six persons each.  Each has two bedrooms, a bath with shower, complete kitchens, and a dining area.  Campers enjoy the 196 site campground built on a former Indian village, with shower houses, flush toilets, electricity, and pet camping.  There are also five full hookups that have water and sewer service.  And if none of these please you, there are plenty of motels and B & B’s within reasonable driving distance.  Hard to go wrong on accommodations.

 Other things to do?  Those who like to hammer a golf ball will find a championship 18 hole public golf course waiting to test their skill.  Reservations are advisable, especially on weekends, and if something is forgotten, the pro shop should have any necessary merchandise, and even a snack bar.

Outdoor types will like the 14 miles of hiking trails, most of it a 10 mile network on the west side of the park. A nice short trail, the Erie Trail, begins at the campground and continues as a 1.5 mile loop that winds around little Stump Lake, while the Iroquois Trail follows the shoreline from the marina to the lodge.  Hikers who tread softly and slow will often see whitetail deer, squirrels, rabbits, beaver, shorebirds and waterfowl on early morning and late evening hikes.  They’ll see some interesting plants too, especially in spring, plants like wild geranium, blue-eyed grass, and pennywort among many others.

Another unusual offering of Punderson State Park is a wide range of winter activities.  Since it’s located in the heart of Ohio’s snow belt, the area has everything from a lighted sled hill to snowmobile trails.  There are cross country ski trails too, well groomed, and those who have no skis can rent some at the Sports Chalet.  A prime place to visit, take the kids, ski, ice skate, and ice fish, then hurry back to the lodge for hot chocolate and a crackling fire. 

 There’s more to do around this lively county.  Boaters might visit the Geauga County Historical Museum in Burton, and nearby Century Village, a reconstruction of an 1800’s village typical of those once scattered through the Western Reserve region.  Short day trips to Nelson-Kennedy Ledges and Tinker’s Creek state parks can be fun, too.  Both offer good day-use facilities, including picnic areas and hiking trails.  And don’t forget Kirkland Village, which showcases life in the 1860’s.

Visitors who need information will find plenty.  For specific questions, try the park office at (440) 564-2279.  For lodge and cottage reservations, call (440) 282-7275, and for even more answers, try 1-800-BUCKEYE or  Then plan a trip to an unusual lake.

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