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Crisp clean air, glistening blue water, and miles of picturesque nature describe the majestic beauty of Pleasant Hill Lake. Located near Perrysville, Ohio in Ashland and Richland Counties, the lake offers boat lovers 850 acres of water with unlimited horsepower. Pleasant Hill Lake was created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1938 by damming the Clear Fork of the Mohican River for flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife management. Today, the reservoir remains one of the many breathtaking vacation spots in Ohio. Through the seasons Pleasant Hill Lake and surrounding area are buzzing with boaters, water skiers, anglers, swimmers, canoeists, hikers, bikers, horseback riders, campers, snowmobilers, downhill skiers, and visitors participating in the local area attractions. The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) manages Pleasant Hill Lake and surrounding 1,345 acre conservation area.
Prior to the arrival of the white settlers in the early 1800's, numerous Native American tribes occupied the Pleasant Hill Lake area, including the Delaware and Mohegan Indians. The Mohican River took its name from the Mohegan Indians. Jonny Appleseed (real name was John Chapman) lived in the area caring for his apple tree nurseries and carved his name in the sandstone at nearby Lyons Falls. Unfortunately, the passage of time has erased his sandstone etchings. The Mohican State Park and Mohican State Memorial Forest occupy land just below the Pleasant Hill Dam at the south end of the lake. During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built roads, bridges, trails, picnic shelters, fire breaks, and fire towers in the area; they also planted over two million trees. Today, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages the 4,525-acre Mohican State Memorial Forest and the 1,294-acre Mohican State Park.
Glacial forces changed the flow of the Mohican River about 12,000 years ago, carving out the scenic hourglass-shaped Clearfork Gorge, designated as a Registered Natural Landmark by the National Park Service in 1967. Clearfork Gorge is an impressive one thousand feet wide at the top and about three hundred feet deep with large outcroppings and steep cliff walls cut into the sandstone bedrock. The 28-acre Clear Fork Gorge State Nature Preserve is also managed by the Ohio DNR.
Fishing and other water activities at the lake are exceptional. Pleasant Hill Lake has a full marina with boat rentals and supplies. The diverse population of fish includes white crappie, saugeye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, brown bullhead, bluegill, rock bass, muskellunge, and channel catfish. Many anglers enjoy relaxing on the rocky southern shore reeling them in. Considered as one of the best family oriented canoeing rivers in Ohio, visitors can take a trip down the fast rapids of the Mohican River.
Mohican State Park offers a variety of accommodations, including a lodge with resort services, two-bedroom cottages, full-service campsites, campsites with electricity, and non-electric sites. There are 13 hiking trails that range from easy to difficult. The Lyons Fall Trail is an easy 2-mile hike that follows Clear Fork Gorge and features two waterfalls (Little Lyons Falls and Big Lyons Falls).. The Pleasant Hill Trail follows the shoreline and provides beautiful views of Pleasant Hill Lake. The Hemlock Trail leads to the covered wooden bridge. An 8.5-mile biking trail passes through the state park and state forest, offering scenic and varied terrain. Bridle trails, backpacking trails, snowmobiling trails, and hunting are available in the Mohican State Memorial Forest.
The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District operates extensive recreational facilities at Pleasant Hill Lake Park, located above the dam. The Park has a public boat launch ramp near the marina, a swimming beach with concession, playground, restaurant, Activity Center, vacation cabins, campsites (Class A full hookups and with electric), camper cabins, and a camp store. The Pleasant Hill Marina offers boat rentals, fuels, and docking.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also provides a recreation area at the dam site with picnic areas, grills, restrooms, shelter, and two short hiking trails. The Corps provides tours of the Pleasant Hill Dam, the intake structure, and the flood control facilities. The dam is one of only two constructed by the Corps with a flood control feature called "Morning Glory Spillway". A few miles northwest of Pleasant Hill Lake is Malabar Farm State Park which is the home of Pulitzer Prize awarded author Louis Bromfield. His farm is a popular historic attraction that numerous visitors pay homage to while at Pleasant Hill Lake.
For some off-water fun, the Pleasant Hill Lake area provides numerous attractions, activities, and festivals held from March through October. Children will enjoy go-karts, waterslides, and adventure golf. A 9-hole golf course is available for the more serious golfer. Other activities featured from spring through fall include chili cook-offs, flea markets, auctions, boating festivals, boat shows, blues fest, sport tournaments, craft weekends, and nature games. Pleasant Hill Lake is a place where lakelubbers can fully enjoy life.
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