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Spring Camping at West Branch State Park in NE Ohio

By Jenn

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I am always on the prowl for the best, campground close to the University of Akron I can find, to make it easy to camp when I go to my nephew’s football games. The area boondocking spots are a little too far for me because I need to be able to minimize travel time to keep my pup, Rocky, happy. So, with the spring football game coming up and a trip to Pleasant Valley Trailers in Sugar Creek, OH, to have new upholstery, window valances, and bed rails installed on the agenda, I decided to make a weekend of it and camped at West Branch State Park in NE Ohio.

Rocky Approved New Upholstery and Cushions
Rocky Approved New Upholstery and Cushions

The campground is situated on a peninsula on the Michael J. Kirwan Reservoir, along the west branch of the Mahoning River.  The park features hiking, bridle trails, a beach, hunting, and what are reported to be some of the best mountain biking trails in OH. Fishing and boating, however, appear to be among the most popular activities in the park. The boats start early and run all day. West Branch is not the quietest park you will visit, but boating in the many lakes in NE Ohio is very popular and it is difficult to deny the locals their recreation of choice.

Rocky and I hiked the trails north of the lake as it was Turkey hunting season and hunting is permitted along the southern part of the lake. A ranger assured me that hunting was restricted anywhere near a trail, however, I did not want Rocky to get spooked by gunshots. The trails were very muddy, which is not a huge surprise since the area had around 8″ of snow the previous weekend.

Trees Along Deer Trail
                  Trees Along Deer Trail
shower house
                       Newer Shower House

The campground has been recently upgraded, including a newer shower house. I had an electric site, hitch had 15, 30, and 50 amp service and pedestal was in excellent condition. There are a limited number of full hook-up sites, but they were all reserved. The sites are paved and my site was fairly level, although not perfectly level.  Site 44 was not a lakeside site. Consult the campground map if a waterside site is important to you.

Michael J. Kirwan Resevoir
               Michael J. Kirwan Resevoir

My site (44) did not have much space on the passenger side of the T@b, the space was primarily on the driver side. I could have wheeled the T@b around, but for campers that cannot be rolled around by hand or campers with slide-outs, it could be a problem. When I was reserving my site, a gentleman with a big rig came in and indicated he needed a larger site, so be careful to match your rig with the right site.

Passenger Side View
    Passenger Side View

My site also had a lot of mud, which limited the usable space. It did not appear as though any spring clean-up had occurred as there were branches laying around the site.

Front View
                             Front View

The staff at the campground were all very helpful and friendly, as were the other campers. I appreciated that it was a nice mix of campers and I was not made to feel as though I had invaded someone’s private party, as you sometimes get at campgrounds frequented by locals.

Although some Ohio State Parks provide WiFi, West Branch does not. I had full Verizon 4G without a booster at this campground and was able to Skype without difficulty.

The staff advised me that the campground is often full in the summer and into the fall, so advanced reservations are recommended. You can make reservations beginning 6 months prior to the desired dates. Rear ViewRear View

Rear View
                                      Rear View

Ravenna and Kent are less than 30 minutes away, making both dining options and grocery and supply locations readily available. Akron is about 30 minutes away.

The campground has a nice dump station that allows 2 RVs to empty at once. Rinse water and a trash can is available at the dump station. Potable water is also available in the dump station parking lot, close to the road. Numerous garbage receptacles are available around the park. Water fountains and sinks are spread throughout the campground but were not turned on for the season when I visited the park.

I will likely camp here, again primarily due to its location. I didn’t love the campground, but it might be more aesthetically appealing once the mud dries up, the branches are cleaned up, and there are leaves on the trees, again.

What I liked:

  • Modern facilities
  • Friendly staff
  • Many electric sites
  • Location
  • Felt very safe
What could have been better:
  • The maintenance of the sites – sticks, leaves, mud – but, again, it was early in the camping season for NE Ohio
  • Not so many campfires. Everybody wants their own fire, at some point, it is not pleasant to have everyone’s smoke wafting through your site.
  • Kids were up late and were loud in he site next to me. I was not asleep, but it was disturbing to my pup. There was no CG host yet, so it might be different once the season kicks in.