Rocky Fork (SW)
9800 North Shore Drive
Hillsboro, Ohio 45133
Shelter & Camping Reservations
Rocky Fork State Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Unlimited horsepower boating allows for excellent skiing on the 2,080-acre lake which also provides catches of bass, muskellunge and walleye for skilled fishermen. A scenic gorge, dolomite caves and natural wetlands add to the popularity of this recreation area.
Nature of the Area
Rocky Fork State Park nestled in 1,384 acres in Highland County derives its name from the stream flowing through the park. This stream, winding over dolomite limestone, has eroded spectacular gorges and caves which we can enjoy today.
Present-day Rocky Fork Creek flows through an ancient valley. Blocked by glacial ice more than 12,000 years ago, the stream reversed direction and rapidly cut the 75-foot gorge seen today. Caves in the region formed as rainwater, trickling through the limestone, dissolved the bedrock. Dolomite limestone is particularly vulnerable to this type of weathering. Sullivantia, extremely rare in Ohio, blooms in the gorge. The small white flowers can be seen from the moist cliff face in mid-summer. Other wildflowers include wild geranium, jewelweed, yarrow and Queen Anne’s lace.
Rocky Fork provides habitat for numerous waterfowl, songbirds, raccoons, skunk, red fox and white-tailed deer. The wetlands in the park are home to the green frog, bullfrog, opossum and muskrat.
History of the Area
Rocky Fork State Park is an area steeped in the rich Indian history of Ohio. The land provided abundant game and a ready transportation system in the nearby creeks and rivers. These same streams provided access to the Rocky Fork area for the first settlers.
Plentiful water attracted a number of millwrights to the Highland County region. During the 1800s and the early 1900s, at least six different mill sites were established along Rocky Fork’s banks. These mills not only ground flour, but also cut lumber, carded wool and even wove blankets. Water-powered industry was instrumental in the early development of the locale.
In 1897, surveyors for a proposed railroad came to the countryside that would one day be the park. Local people had high hopes that the new “Black Diamond” rail line would bring prosperity to the area. The addition of rail transportation would enable the local mills to ship flour and other mill industry goods all over the country. There was to be a depot built in Rainsboro with a stockyard and telegraph office. Meetings were held by railroad officials to secure a right-of-way from nearby landowners. A town was planned near McCoppin’s (at that time Costello’s) Mill. Unfortunately, the “Black Diamond” never got past the planning stages, and the new town of Lodore never came to be.
The eastern part of Highland County has been a resort location for many years. The “Seven Caves” and nearby Rocky Fork gorge attracted visitors even in the mid 1800s. At the turn of the century, Colonel Walter H. Hutchins, a regular visitor to the area from Cincinnati, first dreamed of building a dam near McCoppin’s Mill. He was the lake’s biggest promoter and saw construction begin in 1949.
Rocky Fork became a state park in 1950 and the first water spilled over the dam in April 1953. Since that summer, thousands of people have visited Rocky Fork State Park. The lake has become a favorite of fishermen and water sports enthusiasts.
- 171 campsites suitable for trailers and tents at the northwest corner of the lake
- 96 sites with electric hookups
- 44 sites with full-service hookups
- Equipped with showers, flush toilets, laundry facilities, dump station, camp store and campers’ beach
- Pets are permitted on all sites
- Launch ramp and docks are provided for campers with boats
- Free WiFi is available at the camo office to registered campers
- Miniature golf course, basketball court and corn hole are available
- Camp office loans games and sporting equipment to registered campers
- A separate group camp may be reserved by contacting the park office
- Download the Campground map
- 2 hiking trails
- Bird Observation Trail • 1/3 Mile • Easy
- Deer Loop Trail • 1 Mile • Moderate
- Motors of unlimited horsepower are permitted on the 2,080-acre Rocky Fork Lake
- 6 boat launch ramps are located around the lake
- Rental docks are available at the Marina
- Designated areas for boat camping and swimming on the lake
- The marina provides fuel, docking space and parking
- Boat rentals, fishing and boating supplies, ice and snacks are available
- Check for water quality advisories
- Boating laws and information
- Anglers will enjoy excellent catches of bass, bluegill, crappie, saugeye, white bass, and catfish
- A wheelchair accessible fishing pier is located on the southeast side of the lake
- Valid Ohio fishing license is required
- 6 Picnic areas are located on the north and east shores in wooded areas overlooking the lake
- East End Overlook shelter, Group Activity Area, & the Activity Center can be reserved online or by calling 866-644-6727
- 2 large public beaches provide 800 ‘ of lake access for swimming
- Restrooms are available nearby
- A boat/swim area is available for boaters
- The beach is open during daylight hours only
- Swim at your own risk & be sure to keep an eye on the kids
- Pets are NOT permitted on swimming beaches
- Check for water quality advisories
- 18 holes
- Located at the South Beach
- Rental equipment is available
- No fee is charged to play
- See what other parks have disc golf courses
- Hunting is permitted in designated areas
- Valid Ohio hunting license is required
Winter Recreation (conditions permitting)
More To Do
- Volleyball and playground equipment can be found at both the campground and day-use areas of the park
- Nature center near the campground offers programs during the summer months
- Special events, call the park office for information
- Fort Hill, south of Bainbridge off State Route 41, is the site of a complex of Hopewell Indian mounds. These mounds are more than 1,000 years old and the site includes a museum.
- Serpent Mound, in northeastern Adams County, is one of the most spectacular Indian earthworks in Ohio. Built by the prehistoric Adena Indians, Serpent Mound is a 1,000-foot snake effigy mound. Both of these sites are operated by the Ohio Historical Society.
- Adena State Memorial, the restored home of Thomas Worthington is one of The Ohio Historical Society’s premier sites. It includes Worthington’s newly-restored 1807 mansion and a 13,000 square foot Museum/Visitor Center.
- Paint Creek and Pike Lake state parks are located within a short drive of Rocky Fork. Both parks offer excellent camping, fishing and hiking opportunities.
- Oldaker, Fallsville and Hillsboro Reservoir are areas operated by the ODNR Division of Wildlife and offer fishing and hunting.
- For more information on area attractions, visit
- Highland County Convention & Visitors Bureau website or call 937-393-4883
- Ohio Tourism Division website or call 800-BUCKEYE