Caesar Creek State Park Perimeter Loop Trail
Nearest town: Harveysburg
Total distance: 11.7-mile loop
Hiking time: 6 to 8 hours as a day hike or 2 days for an overnight hike. Backpacking and camping permits required.
Trail conditions: Well marked and well worn. Meadow traverses can become overgrown in summer.
Water: Available seasonally from April 1st to November 1st at group campgrounds (except Day Lodge Group Camp) and other developed facilities in the park
Highlights: Wooded lakeside hiking, lake views, Horseshoe Falls, opportunities for fossil hunting
Contact info: Caesar Creek State Park, 8570 E. State Route 73, Waynesville, Ohio 45068, phone: 513-897-3055
Getting there: To put the largest and more secluded camping area—Day Lodge Group Camp—near the halfway point of the hike, park at the Wellman Meadows Trailhead on the southeast side of the lake. From the interchange of Interstate 71 and State Route 73, take SR 73 west for 4.0 miles and turn left onto Oregonia Road. Travel 2.3 miles on Oregonia Road and turn right onto the road leading to the Wellman Meadows Boat Ramp. Look for a large state park sign reading “Wellman Meadows Group Camp / Wellman Meadows Boat Ramp” at the road’s entrance. Travel this road for 0.6 mile and turn right into the trailhead parking area. The Wellman Meadows Group Camp is located just ahead on the left. Day hikers and overnight hikers selecting a different camp have the option of parking at numerous other developed facilities around the southern one-third of the lake.
Trailhead coordinates: 39.4859°N, 84.0457°W (WGS84); UTM 16 754077E 4374682N (NAD27)
Like Burr Oak, Caesar Creek State Park’s focal point is a recreational lake. In this case a much larger one, coming in at just over 2800 acres. Again, flood control was the impetus for damming this valley in 1978, part of the Little Miami watershed. Tales of history run deep in this region of Ohio, dating all the way back to the Paleozoic era, when a shallow sea covered most of the state. The park’s excellent fossil hunting in ancient sedimentary limestones and shales—exposed courtesy of an ancient bedrock upheaval–gives testimony to the life of this long vanished body of water. In more modern times, several early Ohio Indian cultures inhabited the park’s forests. The Hopewell Indian race lived in the region during a period from 300 B.C. to 600 A.D. and left behind the nearby Fort Ancient earthworks. From 1200 A.D. to 1600 A.D., a later Indian race known as the Fort Ancient Indians lived on the banks of Caesars Creek. Woodland Indian tribes such as the Wyandot, Miami and Shawnee also called this part of Ohio home. The area’s name originates from a slave captured by the Shawnee, and then later adopted and given the valley.
Surrounding the lake are lands dedicated to Caesar Creek State Park and Caesar Creek Lake Wildlife Area. Below the dam, 483 acres are set aside for the Caesar Creek Gorge Nature Preserve. The preserve’s main attraction is a 180-foot deep gorge formed by glacial meltwater cutting down through bedrock. Fossil rich Ordovician limestone and shale are exposed in the gorge. Caesar Creek State Park is located in the glaciated Till Plains region of Ohio, so the landscape is not as dramatic as in unglaciated hill country, but still scenic. Terrain relief generally struggles to reach 100 feet around the lake and is greatest in the gorge. The area is rich in plant life with several different plant communities thriving. Oak, hickory, beech and maple trees grace the wooded hillsides.
A hike on Caesar Creek’s Perimeter Loop Trail is a pleasant and a not-more-than-mildly-strenuous stroll through an often changing landscape surrounding the lower one-third of Caesar Creek Lake—Ohio’s deepest. Along the way you’ll pass many lake views, two waterfalls, a restored pioneer village, fossil-rich limestone exposures and many state park facilities. All this while staying in or near the cedar sprinkled deciduous woodlands that hug the lake. The first day of an overnight hike, using the route we have described below, takes you near park facilities and the more active, noisier central section of the lake, using a busy four-lane section of State Route 73 to cross over the lake. The second day offers more peaceful wooded walkingfarther away from roads near the shore of the quieter southern end of the lake, but still not out of earshot of revving boat engines. There is a bit of road walking over the lake’s dam, but the trail finishes nicely with visits to Horseshoe Falls and the rocky Flat Fork Creek. Below the dam, the Caesar Creek Gorge State Nature Preserve provides additional opportunities for hiking and exploring a 180’ deep gorge cut by glacial meltwater through the same fossil-rich Ordovician limestone and shale found in the park.
The yellow-blazed Perimeter Loop Trail is actually comprised of a joined series of point-to-point trails, or segments. Most segments don’t really have names, but are identified by the points of interest they connect on either end. In the field, you will see 4”x 4” posts with single-letter reference points and larger signs indicating mileage to both ends of that respective segment. From the variety of maps available from the state park office, only a crudely hand drawn map shows the single-letter reference points. This map is not readily handed out to park visitors. No map seems to show trail segments consistent with the way signage indicates in the field. The official state park map doesn’t show reference points or segments. Fortunately, for the hiker/backpacker, the trail (or segments) is blazed consistently and often, and easy to follow. We have elected not to include either letter or segment references on our enclosed map.
The complete trail report, trail notes and trail maps for the Perimeter Loop Trail is available as a 7-page downloadable eTrailsOhio PDF file for $4.95. Camping can be costly here if you don’t plan accordingly. We are the only source to provide the thorough information you’ll need. BUY IT NOW.