By JIM MAURER
There are a variety of outdoor activities in Findlay and Hancock County for residents and visitors who want to stay close to home, attend free or inexpensive events, and experience programs, hikes and entertainment during the summer months.
This story features those offered by the Van Buren State Park.
Disc golf, camping, butterflies, boating and hiking are available at Van Buren State Park.
An 18-hole disc golf course begins at the park’s west end.
The family campground has 28 campsites, 16 with electricity. The equestrian camp has 29 campsites, nine with electricity. Two restrooms are available.
Two rent-a-cabins are available. Each cabin includes two bunk beds, refrigerator, microwave, air conditioning, ceiling fan, table/chairs, fire ring and picnic table. Rental fee is $35 nightly.
A primitive group camp is located in the park’s southeast area. It offers a camping area by reservation for up to 200 people.
To reserve cabins and campsites, call 1-866-OHIOPARKS (644-6727) or visit www.dnr.state.oh.us. To reserve the group camp, or for campsite prices, contact Mary Jane Thurston State Park, 419-832-7662, which oversees Van Buren State Park operations.
The monarch butterfly rearing garden is adjacent to the family campground. The 2,500 square-foot area contains native perennials and other plants to attract butterflies and other pollinators. Also a gazebo, known as “Van Buren’s Caterpillar Nursery,” allows volunteers and staff to raise butterfly and moth caterpillars to release in the park.
Also in the area is the butterfly “Hoop House,” a screen structure. At times during the summer, monarch butterflies will be placed in the structure to increase monarch populations in the area. The park also offers butterfly educational programs listed in the events section.
There are three miles of mainly single-track mountain bike trails located in the south shore woods, for both novice and intermediate riders, with views of the lake and woodlands. The trails cross boardwalks over ravines and offer some challenging features.
The trailhead begins at the south shore picnic area parking lot.
Bikers should follow the blue blaze-marked hiking trails which allow mountain bikes,including: Scarlet Haw Trail, 1.5 miles; Pine Glen Loop Trail, half mile; Lake Shore Trail, 3 miles; Bike Trail, 3 miles.
Four bridle trails also allow hiking and mountain bikes: They are: Red Trail, 2.5 miles; Pink Trail, 4 miles; White Trail, 2 miles; and Yellow Trail, 3 miles.
Marked with purple arrows and blazes, the park also offers a 2-mile interpretive nature trail. Twenty signs along the self-guided trail present information about nature in the area. Hikers can get a map and brochure at the trailhead near Shelter 3, or in the family campground at the trail kiosk near the restroom.
The park’s 45-acre lake allows rowboats, canoes and boats with electric motors. The lake has bullhead, crappie, bluegill and largemouth bass. Boat launch access is at the north parking lot on Allen Township 229.
Volunteers are needed to help with projects such as trail upkeep and maintenance, butterfly rearing and butterfly garden maintenance. For more information, contact park manager Katie Reimund at 419-832-7662.
For general questions about Van Buren State Park, contact the Mary Jane Thurston State Park office, 419-832-7662.
Events at the park include:
- Moonlight movies will be held at 9 p.m. every Saturday during the summer in the amphitheater at the family campground. Popcorn, pop and root beer floats are available for a donation. Visitors should bring a lawn chair and a blanket.
- Christmas in July campout will be held July 19-20. The event will feature a moonlight movie, games, winter-themed crafts, a campsite decorating contest, nature programs and visits from Santa. Campsite reservations may be made by calling the state parks toll-free number.
Additional event listings can be viewed at www.dnr.state.oh.us; select Parks, then Van Buren, from the “Select A Park” drop down box.
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