This is my favorite lake among the choices in my area (Caesar's Lake, Cowan Lake, Rocky Fork Lake and Paint Creek Lake). Mainly due to the destinations available on the lake. Number one is the visitor's center. It has a boat dock and the only kayak dock I've ever seen. It's a floating dock with handrail so you can pull your kayak up on the rollers right onto the dock! It's a lot of fun! Then the visitor's center has a nature museum.
On the opposite side of the lake, a little north of the boat dock, is a road bed that runs down into the water. Beach your kayak, walk 1/4 mile up the road and discover a village of log cabins called Pioneer Village. There are no fees. Usually there are no people. You're free to wander around the town on your own.
Directly across the lake from where you found the road to Pioneer Village is an island. A nice island with lots of elevation, big trees and little undergrowth. A perfect place for a picnic.
In the middle of the lake near the main beach is a hand launch area where you can launch everything from kayaks to jet skis. Directly across the lake is a tower in the lake and behind that is another road. Up this road is the village of Harveysburg. A quiet little town that the highway has passed by. It's about a mile hike to the sole store/gas station. They only have ice cream bars in a freezer, but it's enough motivation for me. Besides after kayaking a couple of hours it's good to get out and stretch.
Northeast of the hand launch area is an Indian mound out in the water the lake has made into an island. It's been excavated and no significant artifacts found. So you can climb on it. It has a tiny little beach ideal for kayaks.
On the north end of the lake is the former site of the village of New Burlington. There's a spot where it's possible, but not easy to launch a kayak. The reward is about a mile of lake that's too shallow for most boats. Or you could go the easy route and access it from the campground's boat launch.
There are hiking trails, mountain bike trails, and horse trails all around the lake. If you can find a place to get out of your kayak the trails all have views of the lake.
Sure it's an unlimited horsepower lake... in the middle. There are lots of no wake zones and some places only accessible by kayak. I view the crowds like any other force-of-nature; I avoid them. But even on weekends after 5:00 PM all the boats go home, the lake calms down and I have it all to myself.
It's also a big lake, so on windy days you're going to feel it. Maybe even blowing a little chop in the water. On calm days thru the week the water can smooth out like a piece of glass. That's when I like it best.
There are 5 boat ramps on the lake including the one for the campground with restrooms at each one. There are other places you can launch but the boat ramps are easier and there's parking.
Snacks are minimal so pack a lunch, bring some water and don't forget the sun block. And maybe bring some hiking shoes in your kayak.
Ohio requires license for all watercraft including kayaks. It's cheap, easy to do on-line, and supports the parks. Plus it's a theft deterrent.
The campground sometimes lets me launch for free, sometimes wants to charge a small fee for the car.
Other than that it's all free.
So be a good sport, pick up litter out of the water. It's difficult for boaters to do. And don't forget your life vest.
To find the former site of the village of New Burlington, I'll assume you're coming from the intersection of I-71 & SR 73. Go east on SR 73 a few feet to SR 380. Go north on SR 380 a couple of miles to the bridge over the northern tip of the lake. There's a sign stating "Former site of New Burlington" on the right. At the end of the guardrail is a gravel lane to the site. Drive down it, turn left, cross the little bridge and the launch point is on the right. You'll have to carry a hundred feet. It's kind of muddy and a little steep of a bank but doable.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Army Corps of Engineers
The visitor's center has some rudimentary maps of the lake & hiking trails. I think the lake is meant to be explored, not just a find it on a map and go there type of experience.
Exploring is fun!