Adams Lake (SW)
14633 State Route 41
West Union, Ohio 45693
Call or reserve online:
Shawnee State Park
4404 State Route 125
Portsmouth, OH 45663-9003
Located in Ohio’s Bluegrass region, one of the state’s most scenic and biologically interesting areas, Adams Lake State Park has much to offer the nature enthusiast. Remnant prairies and a quiet lake can be enjoyed in this small (50 acre) unique park.
Nature of the Area
Adams Lake State Park lies in an area rich in natural diversity with many unique plants and animals. Wedged between the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains to the east and the glaciated land to the north and west, no other area of Ohio boasts a richer abundance of plant species.
Known as the Bluegrass Region of Ohio, Adams County harbors scattered pockets of prairie communities, a remnant of the past when the great western prairies reached into Ohio. Sometime after the last glacial advance, the climate turned warmer and drier. It was during such periods that the prairie advanced eastward into Ohio. Purple coneflower, little blue stem and prairie dock provide an impressive display during the peak blooming season of mid-summer.
The glaciers which covered most of Ohio did not reach Adams County, but their effect is still evident. As the glaciers advanced and the climate changed, many northern species of plants expanded their range southward and remained after the glaciers retreated. White cedar and maidenhair fern represent two such northern transplants.
Before the glaciers advanced, a great river called the Teays flowed through Ohio. As the glaciers moved forward, they had a profound effect on the drainage system by blocking existing rivers. The ancient Teays River was blocked and its waters were backed up forming the Ohio River. The Teays River transported plants native to more southern conditions to Adams County. Mountain laurel is one such traveler still found in the area.
Once teeming with elk, buffalo and bear, animals of the region now include numerous songbirds, as well as opossum, gray squirrel, raccoon and other mammals.
History of the Area
The Adams Lake region was once inhabited by prehistoric and mound building cultures, most notably the Adenas and Hopewell. Internationally renown Serpent Mound, the hallmark of the Adena culture (1000 B.C.-100 A.D.) remains a mystery in regard to its origin and purpose. The historical site can be found north of the park near Locust Grove off State Route 41.
The shorter-lived Hopewell culture (100 B.C.-600 A.D.) created Tremper Mound, located along State Route 104 in adjacent Scioto County. Here, effigy pipes which were fashioned in stylized images of native animals were discovered in great numbers.
In more recent history, the powerful Shawnee Nation controlled this area until trappers and traders seized upon its abundance of furbearers. Pioneers followed in vast numbers as the permanent settlement of the Northwest Territory continued. Adams County was one of the original four counties of this huge district.
Adams Lake was originally constructed to provide drinking water for the village of West Union. When an alternative county water system was developed, the state purchased the lake and surrounding land in 1950. The 95-acre park is now operated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation.
- An accessible 3/4-mile walking path follows the southern shore of the lake
- Download the Trails Map
- Additional trails at Adams Lake are found on the adjacent Adams Lake Prairie State Nature Preserve. Due to the botanical uniqueness of this area, visitors are not permitted to wander from the established trails. Questions about the prairie or its rules should be directed to the preserve manager at 513-544-9750
- Only non-powered craft and those with electric motors are permitted on the lake
- 1 small launch ramp near the park entrance provides access to the 47-acre lake
- Boating laws and information
- Anglers will enjoy nice catches of largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, channel catfish, bullhead and carp
- Valid Ohio fishing license is required
- 4 picnic areas with tables and restrooms are located throughout the park
- All picnic areas are “Carry In Carry Out“, no trash cans are provided. Please bring trash bags with you.
- 1 picnic shelter is reservable online or by calling
- Playground facilities are located in a few areas
- Swimming is not permitted in Adams Lake
- Nearby Shawnee State Park provides overnight accommodations in their lodge and cabin complex as well as in a family campground with 107 sites. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis only, but cabins and lodge rooms may be reserved by calling 800-At-A-Park. Additional facilities include an 18-hole golf course along the Ohio River, two fishing lakes, picnic areas, swimming beaches and a full-service marina with Ohio River launch facilitie.
- Surrounding the park, 60,000-acre Shawnee State Forest encompasses the largest contiguous woodland in the state. This rugged wilderness is often called Ohio’s Little Smokies. The forest is primarily oak-hickory with Virginia pine on dry sites. Miles of forest roads provide access to the wilderness and scenic vistas.
- Tranquility Wildlife Area is found north of Adams Lake off State Route 247. Public hunting and fishing are permitted. Questions regarding license requirements should be directed to the Wildlife District Five Office, 1076 Old Springfield Pike, Box 576, Xenia, Ohio 45385 or call 513-372-9261.
More To Do
- Hikers, picnickers and other park visitors can also enjoy horseshoe pits and playground equipment