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11 Fantastic Lakes for Recreation near Cleveland, OH

Lake Erie is the number one water destination for Cleveland residents and guests, but there are many more lakes in the area. Swimming, fishing, paddling, camping, and water skiing are all possible at these lakes.
itiswild.com Best Lakes near Cleveland Ohio

Lake Erie dominates water recreation in Cleveland, but there are many more lakes in the area with fun things to do, some of which even hold state fishing records.

The selection of lakes around the city is varied. Visitors will find small cozy ponds ideally suited for a quiet day fishing or paddling, as well as large reservoirs with no speed restrictions.

Many of the lakes allow swimming and have designated beaches for cooling off in summer. And some have campgrounds suited for family trips.

In winter, many of the lakes allow the full range of winter activities, including ice fishing, ice boating, and ice skating, as well as cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

Learn more about the area and check out what Cleveland has to offer!

Lakes near Cleveland:

  1. Lake Erie
  2. Coe Lake
  3. Wallace Lake
  4. LaDue Reservoir
  5. Sunny Lake
  6. Mogadore Reservoir
  7. East Branch Reservoir
  8. Michael J. Kirwan Reservoir
  9. Punderson Lake
  10. Mosquito Creek Lake
  11. Hinckley Lake
Lakes near Cleveland Ohio Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Lake Erie

Summer in Cleveland Ohio Beach
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Erie
  • Distance from Cleveland: 2 miles (5 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Sailing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Ice Fishing, Ice Boating, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing

Lake Erie has shaped the history and development of Cleveland. More than the source of the city’s drinking water, the lake’s shoreline has offered recreational opportunities since early settlers arrived. 

Along Euclid Creek, 9.5 miles northeast of downtown, Euclid Beach Park first opened in 1895 and remained a popular attraction until it closed in 1969. Today, lakefront access is available at Euclid Beach.

The city’s Lakefront Reservation includes Gordon Park and its busy boat launch, 22-acre Wendy Park near downtown, and the 147-acre Edgewater Park that touts 9,000 feet of shoreline and a fishing pier. 

Lakewood Park, six miles west of downtown in Lakewood, and Rocky River Park, nine miles west in Rocky River, are other fantastic options for Cleveland residents and guests.

2. Coe Lake

coe lake park in ohio
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Coe Lake
  • Distance from Cleveland: 16 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Snowshoeing

As visitors enjoy strolling along Coe Lake or past its gazebo or pavilion, they may not know that these beautiful grounds were once an abandoned sandstone quarry. 

Today, this 25-acre reservoir in the heart of Berea and a little more than 13 miles southwest of downtown Cleveland is Coe Lake Park, a popular gathering place in the community. 

Trails, picnic areas, a playground, and a seasonal pool sit along grounds that once served industrial purposes. Coe Lake’s Mucklo Park offers children in the area a place to congregate and enjoy outdoor activities.

This artificial body of water also serves a utilitarian purpose. Coe Lake operates as a secondary reservoir for the city when chloride levels rise in the East Branch Rocky River during periods with excessive road salt runoff. 

Along with the river and nearby Baldwin Creek, Coe Lake is a water source for the local utility’s customers.

Anglers also enjoy visiting this lake. Popular fish caught here include largemouth bass, bluegill, and black crappie. Warmouth and white crappie are occasionally found in these waters, as well. 

3. Wallace Lake

Wallace Lake in Berea Ohio
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Wallace Lake 
  • Distance from Cleveland: 16 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Ice Fishing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing

Less than a half-mile west of Coe Lake, Wallace Lake shares a similar history. This 17.6-acre reservoir was also an area near the banks of the East Branch Rocky River that workers had excavated. 

From this quarry, crews once removed sandstone of incredibly high quality. After digging to depths that reached over 30 feet, a decision was made in 1941 to flood the former quarry and create an artificial lake with a sandy beach for summertime swimmers to enjoy.

Managed by Cleveland Metroparks, this Berea location also has a picnic area, a seasonal cafe, and a paddleboat rental facility. Those who visit during the winter have also found this to be a great place for tobogganing.

Regardless of the time of year, anglers will find a great diversity of species in this small lake. A connecting channel allows for fish to swim into this lake from other nearby quarry areas, and seasonal stockings of catfish in the spring and rainbow trout for winter ice fishing bring anglers here. 

Other commonly caught fish include bluegill, white crappie, largemouth bass, carp, and brown bullhead. 

4. LaDue Reservoir

  • Website: LaDue Reservoir
  • Distance from Cleveland: 33 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Ice Fishing, Snowshoeing

A drive of approximately 30 miles east-southeast of downtown Cleveland, LaDue Reservoir is an impounded area of Bridge Creek. 

Completed in the early 1960s, this 1,475-acre artificial lake, known locally as the Bridge Creek Reservoir, Akron City Reservoir, and Wendell R. Ladue Reservoir, receives inflow from Black Brook and Bridge Creek. 

A secondary water supply for the City of Akron – located 25 miles to the southwest – this reservoir also serves to replenish the Cuyahoga River during periods of drought and provides additional flood control during excessive periods of precipitation. 

Parts of the reservoir were originally small kettle lakes before they were flooded over in the early 1960s. 

Although direct body contact with this source of drinking water is prohibited, the seasonal LaDue Boathouse and Marina rents canoes and kayaks. 

Portions of the 8,856-acre LaDue Public Hunting Area surround this reservoir, as well as other lands near the Cuyahoga River and East Branch Reservoir. Wild turkeys, squirrels, and white-tailed deer are found here. 

Those who fish in the reservoir will find walleye, catfish, yellow perch, largemouth bass, bluegill, and crappie. A state record channel catfish weighing 37 lbs. 10.4 oz. was caught here in 1992. 

5. Sunny Lake

Sunny Lake in Ohio
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Sunny Lake
  • Distance from Cleveland: 34 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Snowshoeing

Sunny Lake is 30 miles southeast of downtown and a couple of miles southeast of the heart of Aurora. 

This 68-acre lake serves as the centerpiece of Sunny Lake Park, an Aurora city recreation site with northern and southern sections alongside the lake. 

Trails, picnic areas, baseball fields, the “Aurora Gold” disc golf course, and seasonal kayak and rowboat rentals are available. 

The city has recently acquired land south of the park for preservation purposes and has taken a strong interest in preserving the park and lake as a community gem. 

Boats in the lake may have electric motors but not gas-powered engines. Catch-and-release fishing for bream, bluegill and crappie occurs here. 

6. Mogadore Reservoir

Mogadore Reservoir fishing pier
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Mogadore Reservoir
  • Distance from Cleveland: 49 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Camping

Another reservoir owned by Akron, Mogadore Reservoir took shape in 1939 along the valley of the Little Cuyahoga River. 

This 1,104-acre reservoir is used for flood protection and to supply untreated water to industrial enterprises, not drinking water for people. 

Located 35 miles south of Cleveland as the bird flies, this body of water is a ten-mile drive east of Akron.

Recreation opportunities at the Mogadore Reservoir include access to the state’s Buckeye Trail, hunting, and fishing. 

This body of water has 26.8 miles of shoreline, with five boat ramps. Watercraft and boats must be hand-propelled or use electric motors. 

Shoreline fishing is popular. Fish commonly found within the reservoir include crappie, perch, catfish, brown bullhead, and bluegill. 

7. East Branch Reservoir

Sunset on a lake in Ohio
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: East Branch Reservoir
  • Distance from Cleveland: 42 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping

A little more than 35 miles east of downtown, the 420-acre East Branch Reservoir was created when workers impounded waters flowing from the upper portion of the Cuyahoga River in 1939. 

Another secondary reservoir for the City of Akron, water from this reservoir replenishes the Cuyahoga during dry periods and prevents flooding at wetter times.

The Geauga Park District manages recreation access for those who come here to fish, hike, ride horseback, boat, and enjoy rustic camping on the 926-acre Headwaters Park

The Buckeye Trail also connects to this location and offers waterfront views of the reservoir. 

Although swimming and other direct water contact are prohibited within the East Branch Reservoir, fishing is a popular pastime. 

Anglers who cast a line here will find northern pike, largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish, and perch.

8. Kirwan Reservoir

  • Website: Kirwan Reservoir
  • Distance from Cleveland: 45 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Sailing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Ice Fishing, Ice Boating, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Snowmobiling

A 45-mile drive southeast of downtown Cleveland, the Michael J. Kirwan Reservoir was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers to offer flood control protection along the Mahoning River Valley, Beaver River, and, ultimately, the Ohio River. 

Since entering service in 1966, the dam that impounds the West Branch of the Mahoning River regularly maintains 2,650 surface acres in this reservoir. 

West Branch State Park offers access to Kirwan Reservoir. The Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association has developed bike trails within the park. Many fish by boat, while others enjoy revving their engines on the water. 

Fishing is a popular year-round activity, with shallow shorelines and deep feeder channels attracting the interest of anglers who visit, and ice fishing is permitted in the winter. 

Species found in the Kirwin Reservoir include crappie, bluegill, muskellunge, walleye, panfish, and smallmouth and largemouth bass. 

9. Punderson Lake

Lake with a peddalboat in Ohio
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Punderson Lake
  • Distance from Cleveland: 30 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Snowmobiling

A visit to Punderson Lake, 30 miles east of downtown Cleveland, offers visitors a chance to witness one of the last locations where an Ice Age glacier scraped the terrain in this region, as well as see an English Tudor manor. 

This 150-acre glacial lake honors Lemuel Punderson, who arrived in 1808 as the area’s first permanent settler. He built a small dam and grist mill on this site. 

In the early 1900s, the surrounding area became a resort with summer cottages for wealthy Clevelanders. One landowner began building a Tudor-style mansion.

The state acquired the land surrounding Punderson Lake in 1948, remodeled the unfinished mansion, and opened it to the public, as part of Punderson State Park, in 1956. 

The Manor now serves as a conference center along the largest and deepest kettle lake in Ohio. The park offers opportunities for camping, traditional and disc golfing, hiking, fishing, and relaxing along its shoreline. 

Winter recreation activities, including sledding and cross-country skiing, are popular. 

Fish found in Punderson Lake include crappie, catfish, bass, bluegill, bullhead, and trout. 

10. Mosquito Creek Lake

Mosquito Creek Lake and State Park in Ohio
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Mosquito Creek Lake
  • Distance from Cleveland: 55 miles (1hr 10min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Sailing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Ice Fishing, Ice Boating, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Ice Skating

Mosquito Creek Lake is an agricultural area 55 miles east of Cleveland. 

Due to occasional flooding in the Mahoning River – and the Beaver and Ohio Rivers – a dam was completed in 1944 to impound the waters within this 7,850-acre reservoir, one of the largest bodies of water within Ohio’s boundaries. 

Mosquito Lake State Park spans 2,483 acres of the lake’s lower shoreline, preserving marshlands and mature woodlands. 

Hiking, horseback riding, fishing, boating, and winter recreation such as ice skating, ice boating, snowmobiling, and ice fishing are the top activities at this year-round destination. 

The park includes an archery range, a seasonal beach, and campsites. The 9,021-acre Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area on the reservoir’s northern shore provides a safe haven for Canada geese and other waterfowl, including migratory birds.

Boats on Mosquito Creek Lake may use unlimited horsepower on some sections. Anglers in quieter corners often fish for walleye, crappie, bass, and northern pike. 

11. Hinckley Lake

Paddleboarding on a lake with gray sky
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Hinckley Lake
  • Distance from Cleveland: 25 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Ice Fishing, Snowshoeing

Hinckley Lake, located 25 miles south of downtown, impounds a portion of the East Branch Rocky River. 

This 90-acre lake is the focal point of Hinckley Reservation, a unit within the Cleveland Metroparks system. 

Similar to the annual return of the swallows to the Mission San Juan Capistrano in California on March 19, four days earlier, the buzzards annually return to Hinckley. 

The annual Return of the Buzzards at the Whipp’s Ledges sandstone features in the park each March 15 since the 19th century is a well-known local event. 

Soaring up to 350 feet above Hinckley Lake, Whipp’s Ledges offer a unique view for hikers. Carvings at Worden’s Ledges are another popular attraction, accessible on a loop trail. 

Open throughout the year, Hinckley Reservation attracts anglers who enjoy fishing for bullhead catfish, bluegill, rainbow trout, and largemouth bass. 

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