Birding at East Fork State ParkBethel, Ohio
Visiting this Site
East Fork State Park
3294 Elklick Rd, Bethel, OH 45106
DeLorme Page Number and Coordinates
(7th Edition and earlier) Page 75, D-6
Directions from Nearest Town or City
The park office is located 12 miles east on Route 125 from I-275. Turn north on Bantam Road and follow the signs to the park entrance. The north entrance to the park from I-275 is via Route 32 east and is approximately 14 miles. Turn south on Half Acre Road then east to the park entrance.
About East Fork State Park
Clermont County’s rolling hills and meandering river valleys provide a colorful backdrop for spacious East Fork State Park. Shaped by the forces of the Illinoian and Wisconsinan glaciers, the East Fork region is characterized by beautiful hill country scenery and is noted for the occurrence of remnant prairie habitats. Illinoian glacial deposits are not common in Ohio but can be observed at East Fork and the surrounding area.
East Fork’s diverse landscape includes dry-forested hills, rocky cascades abandoned farmlands, thickly grown floodplains, marshy grasslands and swamp forests. This diversity lends well to an abundance of plant and animal life. Woodlands are composed of beech, sugar maple, red and white oak, shagbark hickory, and wild black cherry. The swamp forests contain silver maple, American elm, sycamore, and black gum. The meadows and remnant prairies contain big bluestem grass and purple coneflower among others.
Animals of the area include skunks, eastern plains garter snake, fence lizard, red fox, deer, and raccoon. Over 235 species of birds have been recorded in the park.
Size: 8448 land acres, 2160 water acres.
A separate Trail Guide is available at the park office.
The park is open year round, but the park office hours are: Monday-Friday 8:00AM to 5:00 PM. During the summer months, park personnel will also be available during special events.
On the south side of the lake, the parking is more than adequate. The north side of the park has very limited parking areas. The campsite is closed to the general public during the camping season. Do not park on the side of the roads or in the grass as you will be ticketed by the park police.
Restrooms are closed from late November to early May on the south side. The north side has open restrooms all season (no heat).
Harmful Insects, Poisonous Plants, or Animals
Lots of ticks, seasonally.
Restaurants in the Area
Frisch’s, Arby’s, and McDonald’s restaurants can be found at Bethel.
Other Useful Information
The Army Corps of Engineers visitor’s center is located on Slade Road, on the west side of the park. To get to Slade Road, turn north on Route 222 off of Route 125. Slade road is approximately 3/4 of a mile north. This area overlooks the lake and a side road leads to the base of the dam. There are restrooms inside the visitor’s center and at the foot of the dam.
If time permits, there are two areas of the park accessible to birders that are located at the east end of Williamsburg-Bantam Road (refer to park map). Park your car on the side of the turn-around. Go around the large gate and you will find that you are on an old road that runs beside the old forest. This road comes out at the lake approximately a mile from the gate. Another road similar to this one leads east and can be accessed from the same turn-around. It also terminates at the lake. These two trails are not shown on the park map.
Other Birding Spots in the Area
From Route 125, go north on Route 222 approximately 7 miles to Elklick Road and turn right. You can drive along the Little Miami River to the dead end. When you come to the split in the road, take the right fork. There is a small parking area at the end of the road. This road is not part of the park. Use caution here because it is a narrow, two-lane road and is well traveled. In season, Great Blue Herons and numerous species of waterfowl are found in the river. For the last ten years, great horned owls have nested approximately 1/4 mile before you get to the end of the road.
Limited access to the eastern portion of this park is via Route 133. Be sure to get a map of the entire area; available at the park office. The East Fork State Park bird checklist is also available here.
Birds of Interest by Season
This may be one of the best places in Southwest Ohio to see Red-shouldered Hawks; large numbers of waterfowl gather on the lake, if not disturbed by boaters. Early morning is the best time to view birds from the swimming beach. Western Grebe, Horned Grebe, Pied-billed Grebe, Long-tailed Duck, and Little Gull were all seen from the south beach (swimming beach) on January 20, 1999. All seven species of Ohio woodpeckers as well as three species of owls can be seen here during the winter months.
Good numbers of warbler species pass through the park in spring. A large population of Wild Turkey breeds here. Woodcock and Whip-poor-will can be seen on the north side of the park.
Both species of orioles nest in the park as well as Yellow-billed Cuckoo and three vireo species.
Thirteen species of sparrows have been sighted at this season. Osprey and Bald Eagles have also been sighted. Large numbers of Ring-billed Gulls begin to gather on the lake during late fall and into the winter months.