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Van Buren State Park (Ohio) facts for kids

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For the Michigan state park, see Van Buren State Park (Michigan).
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Van Buren State Park
IUCN Category III (Natural Monument)
Lake water
Van Buren Lake
Location Hancock County, Ohio, United States
Area 296 acres (120 ha)
Elevation 751 feet (229 m)
Designation Ohio state park
Established 1950
Named for Martin Van Buren
Administrator Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Website Van Buren State Park

Van Buren State Park is a 296-acre (120 ha) public recreation area in Van Buren, Hancock County, Ohio, in the United States. The state park centers on 53-acre (21 ha) Van Buren Lake. It is in a small patch of woods in Northwestern Ohio surrounded by thousands of acres of fields of corn, wheat and soybeans, and is open for year-round recreation.


Van Buren State Park is in a region of Ohio that was once populated by members of the Shawnee nation. The Shawnee migrated to the area from south central Ohio. The area in and around the park represented the last stronghold for the Shawnee in Ohio before they were forced to move west of the Mississippi River by the encroachment of Anglo-American pioneers.

The process of creating Van Buren State Park began in 1939 when a dam was built over Rocky Ford Creek creating what is now Van Buren Lake. This lake was part of a private wildlife preserve. The lake and preserve were transferred to the state of Ohio in 1950. The park, named for the 8th U.S. President, Martin Van Buren, was opened to the public in 1950.


Van Buren State Park is in a rich agricultural area. Northwest Ohio is part of the Interior Plains region of North America. The land is largely flat with a few hills that are a remnant of the last ice age. Beneath the topsoil lies a layer of dolomitic limestone.

The land was largely forested before it was cleared by farmers. A small patch of woodland, made mostly of beech and sugar maple trees, remains at Van Buren State Park. Typical woodland mammals found in the park include white-tailed deer, red fox, red squirrel, skunk, and opossum. Bird species include the cowbird, woodcock, eastern bluebird, short-eared owl and eastern meadowlark. The park is also home to garter snakes and spring peepers. Wildflowers in the area include chicory, spring beauty, Dutchman's breeches, daisy fleabane and thimbleweed.


Camping and trails

There are three separate camping areas at Van Buren State Park. The family campground is on the eastern end of the park. It has 29 campsites. Ten campsites have electrical connections, the other 19 do not. There is an equestrian campground with 31 campsites, just three have electrical hookups. These campsites feature tie rails, picket lines and manure bins. A large, primitive, youth group oriented for up to 200 campers is located in the southeastern corner of the park.

Van Buren State Park features 6 miles (9.7 km) of hiking trails along the southern shore of Lake Van Buren. The trail is open for hiking, jogging and bird and wildlife observation. There are 12 miles (19 km) of trails open to hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders that cross through ravines and woodlands. A three-mile (5 km) trail in the woods on the southern shore of the lake is open to mountain bikes.

Boating, hunting and fishing

Van Buren Lake is open to boating and fishing. Boating is limited to electric powered boats, rowboats and canoes. There is a launch area on the northern end of the lake just off Township Road 229. The lake is home to a variety of fish species including largemouth bass, carp, bluegill, channel catfish, bullhead and crappie. Hunting is limited to bowhunting only. All hunters and anglers are required to have a license issued by the state of Ohio.

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