15 Best Lakes in Ohio

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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While most lakes in the state of Ohio are manmade, there are also a few that are natural! Regardless of how these lakes and ponds came to be, all of them offer something special and are great to visit. This list covers most of Ohio, with a few hidden gems that you might not have heard of.

Let’s have a look at the best lakes in Ohio:

1. Lake Erie

Lorain lighthouse, Lake ErieSource: flickr
Lorain lighthouse, Lake Erie

This list would not be complete without a huge mention to one of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie. This nearly 10,000 square mile lake forms the uppermost boundary for the state of Ohio as well.

With hundreds of beaches and entries points in the state of Ohio, there is space for everyone on one of the world’s most impressive lakes.

One of the most interesting things to check out on Lake Erie are the many islands just off the shore. From historic residences to stunning beaches and recreation areas. These islands are a blast to visit and provide a new perspective for even the most seasoned visitor.

2. Mosquito Reservoir

Mosquito Creek LakeSource: wikipedia
Mosquito Creek Lake

Have a burning desire to stay in a yurt? Mosquito Reservoir has two yurts for your accommodation while hanging around the lake!

Mosquito is one of Ohio’s largest lakes, and with no limit on horsepower and five launch points, you are sure to have a blast on this lake.

Any dog that loves being outside will love to dog park here at Mosquito Reservoir. The five acre fenced in area includes a miniature pond for the water loving dogs as well!

3. Grand Lake St. Marys

Grand Lake St. MarysSource: flickr
Grand Lake St. Marys

Grand Lake is the largest inland area lake in the state of Ohio, covering a total of 13,500 acres. Interestingly, the lake is relatively shallow for it’s large size. With an average depth of between five and seven feet, this is a great spot for people testing out a new sport on

With five boat entry points this lake is great for people looking to take their boat out on the water. Unfortunately as of 2010 the water was deemed not safe to swim in, so no swimming here but this also allows for you to take full advantage of the water without others in the water!

Need a place to land a seaplane? Grand Lake is the only location in the state of Ohio where it is legal to land a seaplane!

4. Turkey Creek Lake

Turkey Creek LakeSource: scenicusa
Turkey Creek Lake

Home to the first and oldest trout derby in Ohio and located in the stunning Shawnee State Forest, Turkey Creek Lake is a hidden gem in the woods of southeast Ohio.

The state park also features a lodge, cabins and a campground along with an 18-hole golf course picnic areas and many hiking trails. Boat rentals are also available on Turkey Creek Lake. The lake is also known for it’s largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill and trout.

The park is also steeped in Roosevelt-era history. One of the many ponds in the area was created by Roosevelt’s Civilian Corps, and the entire state park was designated as such during Roosevelt’s presidency.

5. Pike Lake

Pike LakeSource: flickr
Pike Lake

One of the smaller lakes on today’s list, Pike lake is a minature 13-acre pond.

While hunting is not permitted in the surrounding area, boating and fishing are encouraged on the lake itself. Also nearby one can participate in discgolf, extensive hiking trails, and swimming!

If you are looking to explore the nearby prehistoric mounds of southern-Ohio, then this is the lake for you!

6. Punderson Lake

Punderson LakeSource: flickr
Punderson Lake

This natural lake surrounded by a stunning state park in northeast Ohio, just outside of Cleveland.

Punderson is one of the lakes that we suggest for winter activities in Ohio. With great trails for cross-country skiing and some excellent sledding hills. In addition, the golf course and water activities make this a great destination for anyone in the summertime as well!

The centerpiece of Punderson Lake and the surrounding area is the stunning English tudor manor house completed in 1948 and opened to the public in 1956. Punderson Manor makes for easy accommodation at this stunning lake.

7. Kiser Lake

Kiser LakeSource: stateparks
Kiser Lake

Known for it’s clean and clear water, Kiser lake is a great destination for anyone looking to get out on the water. However, boats with motors are not allowed, so sailing, kayaking, and canoeing are the preferred modes of transportation on this pristine lake.

With five fishing piers located on Kiser, there is no shortage of sport fishing. Largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, crappie, and saugeye can all be found in the depths of this 396-acre lake.

8. Tappan Lake

Tappan LakeSource: panoramio
Tappan Lake

If you are looking for a lake with more of a resort feel to it, Tappan Lake is the place for you. With cabins, pavilions, and camping available, there is no shortage of accommodation during your stay.

Basketball, tennis, volleyball, horseshoe, boat rentals, swimming lessons, and a playground, there is sure to be something for everyone to participate in while they stay at the lake.

With 14 miles of trails within the park grounds, there is enough to keep you busy for a few days.

9. Seneca Lake – Senecaville, Ohio

Seneca LakeSource: wikipedia
Seneca Lake

This 3,550-acre lake has only one boat launch, but accommodates with it’s own marina on the lake, which can be a great option if you are looking to get out on the water throughout the summer months.

The Dockside Restaurant is a great dining spot for those looking to unwind after an eventful day on the lake. First come, first serve!

With an entire series of outdoor events all summer long, this location truly caters to the young explorers in your family. Be sure to check their website for an updated list of upcoming events.

10. East Fork Lake

East Fork LakeSource: gyronation
East Fork Lake

East Fork Lake, also known as William H. Harsha Lake, is stocked with fish each year to provide top quality fishing for all. If you have an angler looking to get out on the water, be sure to head for East Fork Lake.

Located just outside of Cincinnati, this lake is easy to get to and provides all the things a lake should including a great swimming beach and changing area!

11. Buckeye Lake

Buckeye LakeSource: wikipedia
Buckeye Lake

Buckeye Lake is Ohio’s oldest state park, constructed in 1826 its original purpose was as a canal feeder.

Buckeye Lake offers all sorts of boating options, sailboats are commonly found on the lake. With nine entry points and hundreds of docks for rent, this is a great lake if you need a place to park the boat for the summer.

The Buckeye Fish Car was a state owned railroad car that brought bass and crappie from Lake Erie to Buckeye Lake as early as 1891, so this lake has been stocked for well over a hundred years!

12. Lake Hope

Lake HopeSource: wikipedia
Lake Hope

If you are looking for some more dramatic scenery, than Lake Hope is the place to visit. Surrounded by steep gorges and narrow ridges it is heavily forested and a well preserved natural wonder.

The Lake Hope area is known for it’s rich history pertaining to the iron industry. At one time, Ohio was one of the largest producers of iron in the country and the Lake Hope area was at the center of that production boom. The original furnace foundation can still be visited!

Wildlife abounds in the area, beavers in particular make themselves known quite readily. Be on the lookout for them in the inlets of the lake making their homes!

13. Chippewa Lake

Chippewa LakeSource: flickr
Chippewa Lake

One of few natural lakes in the state of Ohio, it was created some 14,000 years ago as the glaciers came through the area.

Perhaps best known for the amusement park that operated next to the lake for 100 years, it closed it’s doors for the last time in 1978.

The lake might be on the smaller size, but it offers some great summertime activities with just one boat entry point on the lake.

14. Portage Lakes

Portage LakesSource: portagelakescruises
Portage Lakes

Portage Lakes is actually a series of lakes connected to one another in a small area just outside of Akron.

With a variety of activities to do on the lake, there is a strict schedule about what activities can be done at what times. Be sure to check their website before you head out on the water.

Interestingly, these lakes are at one of the highest points in the state of Ohio and straddle two different watersheds. Some of the water flows south to the Ohio River and some north to Lake Erie.

15. Findley Lake

Findley LakeSource: jimandbev
Findley Lake

Findley Lake is perhaps best known for its hiking. Wirth trails winding through the forest that surround the lake. Wild flowers abound and makes for a great afternoon adventure.

Interested in mountain biking? Findley Lake is the only lake on our list that features extensive mountain biking trails. So grab your helmet and your bike and get out on those trails!

Be sure to check out the area of the park set aside for the Duke’s skipper butterfly, a very rare insect the flourishes in the area.

15 Best Lakes in Ohio:

  • Lake Erie
  • Mosquito Reservoir
  • Grand Lake St. Marys
  • Turkey Creek Lake
  • Pike Lake
  • Punderson Lake
  • Kiser Lake
  • Tappan Lake
  • Seneca Lake - Senecaville, Ohio
  • East Fork Lake
  • Buckeye Lake
  • Lake Hope
  • Chippewa Lake
  • Portage Lakes
  • Findley Lake