EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was originally published by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
LOUDONVILLE -- Thousands of wooded acres greet visitors to the Mohican region. Mohican State Park's wild landscape offers truly stunning views from both land and water.
Clear Fork Gorge, Lyon's Falls, and the Mohican State Scenic River are just a few of the must-sees for adventurers. Overnight accommodations include a modern full-service lodge, large family campground with pool, deluxe vacation cabins, and a primitive camping area with stream-side sites.
Nearby Pleasant Hill Lake, which is managed by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, offers boating with no horsepower limits. A portion of the lake is no-wake speed, enjoyed by paddlers and anglers alike.
The Mohican State Park area was once the hunting grounds of the Delaware Native Americans, whose more famous warriors included Janacake, Bill Montour, Thomas Lyon, and James Smith. Smith was the first white man to come to this area after he was captured by the Native Americans and later adopted into their tribe. Several Delaware villages were also located in the Mohican vicinity.
European settlers began arriving at the turn of the 19th century, but settlement did not increase until the Native Americans were driven from the area after the War of 1812. John Chapman, immortalized as Johnny Appleseed, frequented the region during the 1800s, caring for his apple tree nurseries.
His name and the date, carved into the wall of Lyons Falls, were an attraction for years. Unfortunately, the etchings have been worn away over time.
Prior to 1949, most of the area that comprises the present state park was part of Mohican State Forest. The forest lands were administered by the Ohio Division of Forestry. In 1949, when the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) was created, Mohican and several other state parks were developed from existing state forests.
The new park was named Clear Fork State Park. Later, in 1966, the name was changed to Mohican State Park in order to alleviate confusion between Mansfield’s Clearfork Reservoir and the state park. Even before the official name change, visitors referred to the area as Mohican.
Mohican State Park’s scenic beauty and natural features can be attributed to events that occurred more than 14,000 years ago during the ice age in Ohio.
The last glaciers to enter Ohio, the Wisconsinan, ended their advance in the Mohican region, leaving behind an array of glacial deposits such as end and ground moraines, linear ridges of soil and rock, and till deposited along the edge of the ice sheet.
The erosional forces of glacial meltwaters hastened the carving of the narrow Clear Fork Gorge. This gorge cuts into sandstone bedrock, creating steep cliff walls and bedrock outcroppings. The gorge is more than 1,000 feet wide at the top and more than 300 feet deep.
The gorge’s towering hemlocks and stands of old-growth white pine, are of national significance. The National Park Service has dedicated the area as a Registered National Natural Landmark.
The Mohican-Memorial State Forest surrounds the park and harbors great plant and animal diversity. Ridge tops contain stands of white, red and black oaks, red maple and white pine trees. Beech, ash, and tulip trees can be found in the middle and lower slopes along with hemlock and yellow birch.
The bottomland forest contains sycamore, willow, buckeye, hawthorn and dogwood trees. The diversity of ferns in this region is astounding, with as many as 15 different species identified, including the rare walking fern.
Mohican is home to numerous mammals, including white-tailed deer, skunk, opossum and red fox. Dusky salamanders, American toads, and the gray tree frog are samples of local amphibians. Wild turkey have made a tremendous comeback in Ohio after being totally absent at one time. Now significant numbers can be found in the surrounding forest.
Additionally, bald eagles are regularly seen in the area. Birders will also enjoy the abundance of nesting warblers in the Clear Fork Gorge. More than 15 species — including northern parula, hooded, cerulean, and American redstart — nest here during spring and summer.