Participating in the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist classes has exposed me to more than just that plants and animals of the Greater Cincinnati area, but some of the unique places. For our Birds of Prey demonstration we were hosted at the naturalist cabin at Cowan Lake State Park and I thought it was a charming park with a decent campground. It seems little more off the beaten path than it’s more popular neighbor, Caesar Creek.

For our second adventure in our Mini, we wanted to try out some highway driving, but not venture too far – especially since we would be attempting to leave after work on Friday. We did not want to attempt our second ever campsite set up in the dark. It seemed the perfect time to try out the Cowan Lake campground.

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A word of warning – on occasion, my GPS has directed me to I-71 via exit 32. This is a beautiful and interesting drive that actually traverses the mounds of Fort Ancient. I highly recommend it for anyone in a car. It is definitely not appropriate for anyone with a trailer. We made sure to take exit 36 for Wilmington Road.

Although Cowan Lake campground is 237 sites-large, smaller groupings and wooded lots make it feel less overwhelming. Sites 1-60, 111-129, and 211-237 are located along the perimeter and are more shaded than the open field sites. All sites have electricity, except an additional 17 tent sites near the water. Sites can be reserved online, but we decided we would prefer to pick one out in person. This was not a bad choice as many of the sites are extremely sloped. There are walk up sites as well. We initially picked site 116, even though we couldn’t find it in the Cowan Lake reservation system. We loved its seclusion and proximity to the lake and figured it was worth the gamble.

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We lost that gamble when we got a call Saturday morning letting us know we would have to move. Someone had reserved the site. Glass half full – we got more practice packing up and setting up our campsite. And we got to select a second great site. 219 would be a little less private if we had neighbors and was rather sloped, but had an even better view of the lake.

Bathrooms are older, but relatively clean and with flush toilets. Showers are available as well.

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There are not many hiking trails, but enough to keep you busy with casual strolling. We took a quick break from trailer work to do a half-mile on the Lakeview Trail. Birding is also great with a nice mix of waterfowl and songbirds. Cowan Lake is known for being the feeding grounds for a locally nesting pair of bald eagles so be sure to keep an eye out for large shadows sweeping overhead!

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