Growing up my parents took my siblings and I all over to go hiking and kayaking. Which makes it embarrassing that before this summer I had never been to an Ohio State Park located less than 15 minutes from my house.
It is fitting that my parents were the ones who convinced me to go. Although I’ve had a kayak for a couple years (guess who that was a gift from?) I haven’t used it nearly as much as I should, especially since there are so many places in Hancock County to go kayaking! So when my parents asked if I wanted to kayak with them and my sister at Van Buren State Park I had to say yes – and I’m really glad I did!
Getting to the boat launch at Van Buren State Park is really easy. You can go straight there by following TR 218, bypassing the park and going past Adventure Bound Camping Resort, before heading South on TR 229. There is a small parking lot on the right where you can leave your car and put your kayaks in the water. This is also a great spot to jump on one of the trails!
Once we divvyed up who was riding with who – it is always a fight over who gets to ride with Papa, who is known to hide water guns in his kayak! – we decided to paddle the main part of Van Buren Lake first. This was a really calm paddle and very beautiful. We were the only ones on the lake and it was very peaceful…until Eli and I had to race my sister to the other side of the lake (we won).
Because things aren’t simple, we had to rearrange kids a couple times, which was a challenge, but every one stayed dry (even Bella, my parent’s dog, although she really, really wanted to go for a swim!). In the lake we saw fish, a couple turtles, and lots of egrets and herons which kept the kids entertained.
We thought the lake was all that we could paddle, but as we were making our way back to the launch we passed others that had explored down the creek that was on the other side the bridge, later Google Maps taught me that it was called Rocky Ford Creek. Originally we thought it wasn’t wide or deep enough to paddle, but it is and is definitely worth checking out!
We paddled pretty far down this section (bug spray is strongly recommended!), this was extra fun for the kids who let their imagination go wild and we were transported to the jungle with all the tall trees lining both sides of the water. Unfortunately, no alligators or jaguars were discovered!
If you’re looking for a good spot to ease back in to kayaking, or trying it for the first time, Van Buren State Park is a great place to do so. It was a really fun afternoon that we all enjoyed and will definitely be back – hope to see you there!