EAST FORK / HARSHA LAKE



Urban Sustenance For Cincinnati Area Day Hikers and Backpackers

Day after day: cubicles, traffic. Mindlessly performing your weekly tasks while dreaming of some nice lake in the backcountry. Your thoughts drift toward fantasies of crossing rocky streambeds, pristine lake views, and finally settling into your backcountry campsite in the evening, cooking over a warm and cozy campfire.

If, like me, you live in or around the Cincinnati area, your backcountry dreams seem to lie hopelessly distant as mere figments of your imagination, the nearest real sustenance at least 3 hours distant, too far for many of us to stray on our pitifully short weekends.

Not so. I know it's hard to believe, but there is backpacking to be found within a half-hour drive of downtown Cincinnati. The trails are as primitive as the camping. The streams are lovely when low and a major crisis when high, and everything about this place convinces you that you are in a vast wilderness.

Most in Cincinnati have heard of East Fork Lake, also known as Harsha Lake. What many do not realize is that boating and fishing are just the beginning of what this lake has to offer. Amazingly, this lake just east of Cincinnati, on the front-line where the sprawling suburbs continually gain ground on rural Ohio, has just what you need to get back to basics for a weekend. Not one, but two backpacking loops, a separate mountain bike trail, and a horse trail, make this system of trails a truly remarkable achievement.


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