Atwood Lake isn’t a toe-dipping destination — it’s a jump-in-with-both-feet kind of place where you can easily dive in to activities such as boating and kayaking. Winding through 2,925 acres of forest, the man-made lake looks like a snake on a map — its head in Tuscarawas County and its body stretching through Carroll County. Built in 1936 for flood control and complete with its own dam, the 1,540 watery acres begged for something more. Now, it’s run as its own small town with certified rangers and a community of seasonal campers who treat it like home. The pleasantries you’d find in a big city are replaced with waves and nods — a silent affirmation that you’re all witnessing the beauty around you.
County: Tuscarawas and Carroll
Average depth: 15.3 feet
Deepest point: 41 feet
The Water: With an average depth of 15.3 feet and a horsepower limit of 25 mph for watercrafts, the waves are small enough to still see ripples from fish — bluegill, crappie and more — playing on the surface of the water. Rent a pontoon boat from Atwood Marina to chart your course on this calm lake. Cast a line under one of the bridges on the east side of the lake — a hot spot for fish hanging out in the shaded area — or drop anchor at one of the two boater swimming areas for a more private party. “You can literally spend the entire day on the water without having to get off the boat,” says Atwood Lake Park manager Aaron Stump.
The Land: Atwood’s geocaching community draws people from throughout the region with 11 geocaches in the Explore The Shores Geotrail. Almost like a digital scavenger hunt, a GPS leads you to areas where containers have been hidden. Once you’ve found the box, sign the logbook and look for trade items — small items like key chains and souvenirs. You can even get 10 percent off your camping or 10 percent off your meal at the Lighthouse Bistro once you find all 11.
Where to Stay: If you don’t want to bother pitching a tent and don’t own a camper, don’t sweat it. Atwood Lake Park has 10 vacation cabins starting at $137.55 per night for two bedrooms, one full bath, a full kitchen, air conditioning and even satellite TV. Sip your coffee from the porch and watch the sunrise over the lake to start your day. End it around the cabin’s private fire pit making s’mores. You might have the amenities of home, but you’ll still feel immersed in nature.
Where to Eat: Just because you’re off the beaten path doesn’t mean you’re far from fine dining. The Lighthouse Bistro sits lakeside at the west marina and overlooks the docks. The patio offers a breezy place to catch the sunset or listen to the live music it hosts throughout the summer months. Even with a massive range of options (think Asian, Italian, Southern and more), the star of the menu remains the burgers. Try the constellation burger ($10.50), which comes with two all-beef patties, lettuce, cheese and fried pickle spears on a brioche bun, a perfect meal after a long day on the water.
Expert Take: You’ve spent all day on the water, now head up into the air. Climb the 40-foot-tall observation tower perched in the forest, just above the tree line behind the welcome center to see a 360-degree view of the lake, park and more.