Days are shorter and nights are turning cold. But just because the earth is tilting us away from the sun, its not time to hibernate and shut yourself in at home. Instead, imagine yourself on an exhilarating autumn hike or savoring blue-white landscapes during a winter weekend getaway. Discover a secret retreat in a cozy woodland cottage at one of Ohios more secluded, lesser known state parks.
These woodland hideaways are a complete home away from home. While the settings are rustic and quiet, there's no lack of modern conveniences. Virtually every family cottage comes fully furnished right down to color televisions, linens, towels and kitchen utensils. Each of these two bedroom cottages sleeps six people and features gas heat most offer gas-log fireplaces making family gatherings more enjoyable and more memorable!
"Staying at a state park cottage in the off-season offers advantages not found during busy summer months," said Dan West, chief of the Ohio State Park system. "Fewer visitors, quiet surroundings and some discounted rates can be soothing for the soul - as well as the pocketbook."
Dillon State Park in Muskingum County has 29 two-bedroom family cottages nestled in woods overlooking the north shore of a large reservoir. Nearby Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve is home to rare flora and fauna and is one of the prettiest places in Ohio to view the change of seasons. Winter recreation at Dillon includes an ice-skating rink and a sledding hill.
Deep in the forests of southern Ohio youll find Pike Lake State Park, home to a dozen family cottages all with newly refurbished kitchens, central heating, gas-log fireplaces and color TV. Pike Lake is surrounded with dense forests of oak, hickory, tulip, ash and other hardwoods. Deer, grouse, red foxes and elusive wild turkeys live in these woods, as do a variety of ferns, mosses, lichens and fungi. The park offers traditional winter activities and nearby attractions include Spicy Run Ski Mountain.
Cowan Lake State Park in Clinton County has 27 year-round family cottages in an area that abounds with pheasants, ducks, geese and other wildlife. Rock hounds will find the park and its surrounding countryside particularly intriguing. Cowan Lake lies near the Cincinnati Arch, an uplifting of bedrock that occurred during the formation of the Appalachian Mountains. The ongoing erosion of this arch exposes fossil-rich limestone. The limestone near Cowan and other parts of the exposed arch are some of the best-known fossil hunting fields in the world.
Antique lovers and aviation buffs might naturally want to gravitate toward Buck Creek State Park, situated on a bluff overlooking the expanse of Clarence J. Brown Reservoir. Located on the northeast edge of Springfield, visitors staying at one of the parks 26 family cottages will find themselves close to great antique shopping and the U.S. Air Force Museum. Winter recreation includes sledding, cross-country skiing, ice fishing and nine miles of park trails.
Pymatuning State Park in Ashtabula County, on the Pennsylvania-Ohio border, offers 26 family cottages as well as a luxurious premium cottage. The premium cottage has two gas-log fireplaces, a Florida room with dining area, an indoor hot tub and a large deck with outdoor gas grill.
The countryside around this northeastern Ohio park was shaped by glaciers that covered the area more than 14,000 years ago. As the last ice melted away, a rolling terrain was left behind.
Because of its location in the snow belt, Pymatuning is popular for such winter sports as cross-country skiing, ice skating, ice boating and fishing. Snowmobiling is accommodated on the Pennsylvania side of the lake.
Many of Ohios state parks are now offering reduced rates and Nature Lover specials, providing a price break to cottage users who stay more than one night. So, chase those winter blues away before they even begin by planning your winter getaway.
Cottage reservations in Ohio State Parks can be made up to one year in advance on the first day of the month. Call 1-800-AT-A-PARK or the individual park office for information and reservations. A brochure detailing prices is available through 1-800-BUCKEYE or on the Internet at www.dnr.state.oh.us.