Friends Caring for Cowan Lake State Park

The Cowan Lake region was once a stronghold of the Miami and Shawnee Indians. After their defeat at the hands of General Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, the Indian threat subsided and settlement began here. In 1797, the first settler in the area, William Smalley, began clearing land for his home along the river which was later dammed to form Cowan Lake. Smalley had been captured by the Indians when he was a small child and was forced to live with them until he was twenty years old. He later fought in General Wayne's army and was recaptured, but luckily escaped with his life.

Cowan Creek was named for the area's first surveyor, John Cowan. A dam was completed across Cowan Creek in 1950, and in 1968, Cowan Lake was dedicated as a state park.

Natural Features
It has been said that Ohio's history can be found written in the rocks. By studying the bedrock layers in Ohio, we know that ancient seas, swamps, river deltas, and beaches covered all or portions of the state at times over the past 500 million years. Sediment deposited by those ancient waters solidified into rock and eventually uplifted forming dry land. Animals and plants were embedded in the sediment, and today, these fossils reveal the different life forms that existed in Ohio's past.

Cowan Lake lies near the Cincinnati Arch, an uplifting of bedrock that occurred during the Appalachian Mountains' building process. The erosion of this arch in the Cowan region exposes fossil-rich limestone. The limestone near Cowan and other parts of the exposed arch are some of the most famous fossil hunting fields in the world.

A fine stand of beech-maple forest can be found around the lake at Cowan. These woodlands contain beautiful wildflowers including bloodroot, wild ginger, spring beauties and trillium. The woods, fields and lake provide habitat for a variety of animals, including ring-neck pheasant, ducks, geese and herons. Songbirds such as eastern bluebirds, catbirds, house wrens and many others inhabit the fields and bushy areas of the park. Mammals include white-tailed deer, raccoon, opossum, woodchuck, skunk and others.

American Lotus, a brilliant water lily, is abundant in the lake's shallow areas. It is unusual to find such a large colony of lotus on an inland lake. The plant's leaves grow up to two feet in diameter supporting large yellow flowers.

About Cowan Lake State Park


Cowan Lake State Park features a large campground with nearly 250 campsites and cabins available for reservation. There is also a group site and dance pavilion that can be reserved. 

Friends Caring for Cowan Lake State Park is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit

Copyright 2017. Friends Caring for Cowan Lake State Park.                All Rights Reserved.

700-acre Cowan Lake has a 10-horsepower limit. Four launch ramps, fuel and dock  rentals are also available. Sailing is very popular on the lake.
This Ohio State Park lake is part of the Paddle Ohio program. Learn more
Check for water quality advisories
Ohio boating laws and information

Muskie, crappie, largemouth bass, catfish and bluegill are plentiful. Accessible fishing pier is located near the Pine Tree picnic area. A valid Ohio fishing license is required.
The fishing pier is Carry In Carry Out areas. No trash cans are available. Please bring your own trash bags.
Check for water quality advisories
Cowan Lake fishing information
Ohio fishing regulations

Six picnic areas with tables and grills are located in many tree-shaded areas overlooking the lake. Camp shelterhouse and dance pavilion are reservable online or by calling (866) 644-6727.
Shelterhouse and the dance pavilion near the beach are Carry In/Carry Out areas. No trash cans are available. Please bring your own trash bags.

A 1,000 foot public beach is located on the south lake shore. Bathhouse, showers and a snack bar are available for public use Swimming is permitted during daylight hours only. Swim at your own risk. Pets are NOT permitted on swimming beaches.
The beach is a Carry In Carry Out area. No trash cans are available. Please bring your own trash bags.
Check for water quality advisories

Six hiking trails are available in the park:
Beechnut Loop Trail - 0.5 Mile - Easy
Dogwood Trail - 0.7 Miles - Easy
Emerald Woods Trail - 1.8 Miles - Easy
Lotus Cove Trail - 0.7 Miles - Moderate - Offers a boardwalk view of an American Lotus (water lily) colony
Old Field Trail - 0.8 Miles - Moderate
Lakeview Trail - 1.1 Miles - Moderate
Spillway Trail - 2.5 Miles - Moderate

Winter Recreation
Under the proper conditions, park visitors can enjoy sledding and cross-country skiing. Hike our trails on the southern side of the lake, or within the campgrounds, located on Osborn Road.

Hunting is permitted in designated areas during scheduled hunting seasons. A valid Ohio hunting license is required.
Ohio hunting laws and information