Key At-A-Glance Information
Length: 6.7 miles
Configuration: Lollipop and out-and-back
Scenery: Woods, wetlands, and lake
Exposure: Mostly shaded
Trail Surface: Soil, exposed rocks and roots
Hiking Time: 2.5-3 hours
Driving Distance: 25 minutes northeast of Cincinnati
Access: 6 a.m.-11 p.m.
Maps: USGS; Stonelick State Park Map
Wheelchair Accessible: No
Facilities: Restrooms and water
For More Information: Stonelick State Park office, (513) 734-4323 or www.ohiodnr.com
Special Comments: Enjoy panoramic views of the lake from any of the many benches along Lakeview Trail.
The Stonelick State Park area is one of the best spots in the state to see some amazing fossils. Erosion has exposed some of the oldest rocks in the arch, ranging in age from 350 to 500 million years old. The fossils in the Cincinnati Arch include trilobites, brachiopods, and cephalopods, which have attracted fossil hunters since the early 1800s. You can look, but keeping the fossils is forbidden. If you want to collect them, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allows fossil collecting via permit in designated areas of Hueston Woods, East Fork, and Caesar Creek state parks.
In 1948, the state of Ohio began purchasing land to create Stonelick State Park. In 1950, the dam across Stonelick Creek was finished, creating 200-acre Stonelick Lake.
Enter Stonelick State Park from OH 727 and park in the small parking area across the road from the maintenance service center. Walk to the right of the service center to find the trailhead for Beechtree Trail, which parallels the fence.
This trail meanders through the forest. Large low spots are scattered along the trail. During winter, the low spots are full of water, offering exciting mini ice-skating rinks when temperatures are low enough for the water to freeze. In spring the same low spots are great areas to look for tadpoles, frogs, and salamanders.
At 0.93 miles, you’ll see a water tower. The trail continues on the other side of the water tower and into the woods, then turns left at 1.12 miles. Portions of this trail are marked with blue blaze marks. The forest at 1.2 miles is co-dominated by sweetgum, American beech, and maple trees. This is unusual because sweetgums are usually a subordinate tree.
The trail intersects with a mountain bike trail at 1.44 miles. Continue on Beechtree Trail to the left. Cross the road at 1.48 miles and re-enter the woods. Immediately ahead of you are the entrances for Lakeview and Southwoods trails.
Take Southwoods Trail over a short, steep hill and into a small stand of red cedars. The trail on this portion of the hike is extremely eroded, with roots that crisscross the trail making it treacherous for your ankles.
At the bottom of the hill at 1.55 miles is a small stream. Stop and look for tracks of animals, such as raccoon and white-tailed deer. Cross the bridge over the small stream and continue on Southwoods Trail. Cross another footbridge at 1.63 miles before heading uphill. There are no markers for this portion of the trail, so be alert to staying on the trail and not following a deer path.
Cross the metal bridge at 1.66 miles and enter a younger forest with plenty of white and red oak trees. Cross another footbridge at 1.76 miles and notice that the forest is more open, with very few understory plants under the high canopy of oaks and sugar maples. Cross another footbridge at 1.79 miles, where the campground is visible from the trail.
At 1.88 miles, take Red Fox Trail to the left at the split. Its terrain is flat, and the forest transitions from open hardwoods to red cedars at 2 miles. Cross the footbridge at 2.19 miles, and at 2.23 miles enjoy a break on a bench. Walk a little farther to the wetland area at 2.35 miles and listen for frogs chorusing during spring and summer. Follow the trail onto a small finger of land that juts out into the lake with wetland areas on either side. Stop and watch for herons, waterfowl, and other wetland critters.
Return on this trail and take the footbridge to the left at 2.59 miles. This narrow footpath borders the edge of the lake for more than 0.2 miles. You’ll see a pleasant backwater cove at about 2.77 miles before the trail heads uphill along an extremely eroded trail.
Pass the connector trail at 2.84 miles and continue on Red Fox Trail to the left, following the red blaze marks on the trees. Walk quietly through the older forest of sugar maple, oak, and beech trees, and you might encounter a wild turkey scratching along the forest floor.
Cross the footbridge at 3.23 miles, and continue through the sugar maple, beech, shagbark hickory, and white oak trees. Continue following this trail, and when it connects to itself take the trail to the left, which becomes Southwoods Trail.
Follow Southwoods Trail back to the steep hill and the entrance to Lakeview Trail. Take Lakeview Trail to the right, and you’ll see the lake after 0.2 miles. Elm trees border the trail close to the road. The trail briefly passes along the edge of the road, crosses the waterway, and enters the woods on the other side.
This portion of the trail in the woods is muddy in wet weather. Spur trails radiate along Lakeview Trail to the edge of the lake. At 0.39 miles into the Lakeview Trail, you’re shaded by red cedar trees. Multiple benches provide excellent vantage points to view the lake.
Cross the creek at 4.5 miles, turn around in the parking area, and retrace your steps to the junction of Lakeview, Southwoods, and Beechtree trails. Turn right and follow Beechtree Trail back to your vehicle.
GPS Trailhead Coordinates
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UTM Zone (WGS84) 16S
Latitude: N 39 degrees 12' 58.64"
Longitude: W 84 degrees 04' 38.81"
East Fork State Park, Cincinnati Nature Center, and Sharon Woods Park offer additional hiking opportunities. Cowan Lake State Park and Indian Creek Wildlife Area are also nearby.