With over a dozen of lakes and reservoirs, the Dayton area offers plenty of options to cool off in summer.
Most lakes on the list are situated within state parks which provide boat ramps, campgrounds, trails, and beaches. Swimming, kayaking, fishing, and power boating are popular activities at these lakes.
In winter, most options offer ice fishing and ice skating, and some have ice boating, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing opportunities.
Basically, there is something for everyone here. Check out what Dayton has to offer!
Lakes near Dayton:
- Eastwood Lake
- Englewood Lake
- Caesar Creek Lake
- Armco Park Lake
- Kiser Lake
- Lake Loramie
- Grand Lake
- Indian Lake
- Cowan Lake
- Deer Creek Lake
- Acton Lake
- Whitewater Lake
- Brookville Lake
- Clarence J. Brown Reservoir
1. Eastwood Lake
- Website: Eastwood Lake
- Distance from Dayton: 5 miles (10 min)
- Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Sailing
Created from the Mad River, the 185-acre Eastwood Lake sits slightly upriver from downtown Dayton. Now a part of Eastwood MetroPark, the lands once known as Eastwood Park were originally created for flood control.
By the 1970s, this lake became a popular recreation site and also recharged the local aquifer. During this time, the lake also took on the name “Dayton Hydrobowl,” as it became a popular boating site and hosted large gatherings, such as rock concerts.
Substantial improvements along Eastwood Lake occurred during the 1990s. Better facilities, new trees, and a cleanup of the lake and adjacent parklands gave the area a much-needed revitalization.
The former “Hydrobowl” remains a mile-long hub of outdoor recreation in Dayton, a place where the community comes to fish and relax.
Although swimming is not permitted, visitors come here to boat, walk and bike along trails, and enjoy picnics.
Personal watercraft and boats share the lake, with a schedule that balances the wishes of those who bring canoes, kayaks, fishing boats, and power boats to the lake.
Anglers catch bass, bluegill, catfish, carp, and crappie in this lake.
2. Englewood Lake
- Website: Englewood Lake
- Distance from Dayton: 15 miles (20 min)
- Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking
Twelve miles northwest of downtown Dayton and just southwest of Dayton International Airport, the Englewood Recreation Reservoir is part of Englewood MetroPark.
This 1,900-acre natural retreat includes the 145-acre lake, along with meadows, wetlands, and woods that offer recreation and serve as a buffer for the Stillwater River. Completed in 1921, Englewood Dam offers flood control.
Public access to this nature preserve increased by the late 1960s. Equestrian trails, campsites, and fishing areas were developed or improved.
During the late 20th century, new amenities along Englewood Lake included a disc golf course and a hill area for sledding.
A lower dam built in 1935 was removed, offering a better way for the reservoir, also known as the Englewood Recreation Reservoir, to get recharged with fresh water.
Similar to the fish found in adjacent waters of the Stillwater River, those who cast a line in Englewood Lake will find bluegill and largemouth and smallmouth bass.
3. Caesar Creek Lake
- Website: Caesar Creek Lake
- Distance from Dayton: 26 miles (40 min)
- Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Sailing, Ice Fishing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing
Considered the deepest lake in the state, Caesar Creek Lake covers more than 2,600 acres and has a depth of 115 feet near the dam.
A little more than 15 miles southeast of Dayton and 30 miles northeast of Cincinnati, the earth-and-rock-fill dam constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers started to fill the reservoir in 1978.
Caesar Creek State Park includes a marina, dock rentals, and launch ramps that provide lake access. A nearby campground, trails for hiking and biking, and other facilities enhance recreation opportunities near the lake.
Small waterfalls and the extensive trail network attract visitors to this year-round destination. Crappie and muskellunge are popular catches.
4. Armco Park Lake
- Website: Armco Park Lake
- Distance from Dayton: 26 miles (30 min)
- Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Sports Fields
This 110-acre impoundment of Shaker Creek, now known as Armco Park Lake, was once home to a Shaker religious community.
Situated in Warren County’s rolling hills a little more than 20 miles south of downtown Dayton, the lake and surrounding lands later belonged to the American Rolling Mill Company (ARMCO) Steel Company.
Originally developed as a lake retreat for Armco’s employees, the company sold the land to a group in 2008 that later permitted the county to purchase it for use as a park.
The 311-acre park includes a playground, sports fields, tennis courts, and other amenities. A dock and bait shop support boaters who come to Armco Lake Park to fish.
Along with plenty of largemouth bass, the lake has bluegill, catfish, and white crappie.
5. Kiser Lake
- Website: Kiser Lake
- Distance from Dayton: 37 miles (50 min)
- Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Sailing, Ice Boating, Ice Fishing, Sledging
Once known as Mosquito Lake, Kiser Lake first came into existence in 1840 near the creek’s swampy headwaters as workers contained the water for a grist and saw mill.
By the 1930s, John Kiser’s family owned much of this land in the area known as Mosquito Creek Valley. They donated it to the state to re-establish the reservoir for recreational use. Work on the new dam was finished in 1940 as the rising waters created the 396-acre lake.
Kiser Lake State Park sits along 531 acres on the north end, with the campground on the lake’s east side. The swimming beach remains open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The year-round park is a popular spot for sledding, ice fishing, and ice boating during the winter. On the lake’s southeastern corner, Kiser Lake Wetlands State Nature Preserve occupies 51 acres that include nutrient-rich prairie fens, marshlands, and meadows.
Canoes, kayaks, and smaller boats are often found on Kiser Lake, though motorized boats are not permitted.
A boat ramp and four launch sites offer lake access for anglers who enjoy casting a line for wiper, crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, and largemouth bass.
6. Lake Loramie
- Website: Lake Loramie
- Distance from Dayton: 52 miles (55 min)
- Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Sailing, Ice Boating, Ice Fishing, Sledging, Ice Skating
Lake Loramie traces its origins to the Miami and Erie Canal, which was constructed between the mid-1820s and 1845 to connect the Ohio River near Cincinnati with Lake Erie at Toledo.
Created as a water storage reservoir for this canal along an impounded section of Loramie Creek, state officials turned the lake and adjacent land into Lake Loramie State Park in 1949.
The park provides recreation along Lake Loramie throughout the year. Although water skiing is not permitted, guests may swim, fish, ice fish, and boat along this 1655-acre lake.
Lake access is offered through six launch ramps, with seasonal rentals of kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats also available. Park activities include picnicking, hiking, camping, disc golfing, sledding, snowmobiling, and ice skating.
Anglers have four fishing piers and plenty of areas along the embankment for fishing. Bass, crappie, catfish, and bluegill are commonly found in the lake.
7. Grand Lake
- Website: Grand Lake
- Distance from Dayton: 66 miles (1hr 10min)
- Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Sailing, Ice Fishing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowmobiling
Grand Lake is a 65-mile drive north of downtown Dayton. Similar to Lake Loramie, this reservoir began to take shape in the late 1830s to provide water to maintain the proper depth of the Miami and Erie Canal.
The world’s largest artificial lake, when completed in 1845, this 13,500-acre reservoir would later become the first location where crews drilled for offshore oil in the late 1800s.
Grand Lake St. Marys State Park occupies part of the lake today. This park offers guests year-round activities, such as boating and camping, that cover portions of 52 miles of shoreline.
Speedboating is popular here, where multiple launch ramps accommodate boaters. A no-wake zone exists near the swimming area and shoreline.
Snowmobiling, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing are popular during the winter.
Anglers enjoy visiting Grand Lake. Species found in this body of water include carp, crappie, walleye, catfish, and bass.
8. Indian Lake
- Website: Indian Lake
- Distance from Dayton: 70 miles (1hr 10min)
- Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Sailing, Ice Fishing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowmobiling, Ice Boating, Ice Skating
Located 60 miles north of downtown, Indian Lake was created in the 1850s to serve as a water supply for the Miami and Erie Canal.
Irish immigrant laborers completed the original dam near where the North Fork and South Fork of the Great Miami River came together. The Ohio legislature offered this 5,100-acre reservoir for recreational use in 1898.
Considered the “Midwest’s Million Dollar Playground” in the early 20th century, the lake now has a mix of recreational land and private residences.
Indian Lake State Park sits along a section of the lake’s northern shoreline. A place for camping, archery, boating, swimming, fishing, ice fishing, jet skiing, and ice fishing, this park has two beach areas, multiple boat launches, and many lake access areas.
Abundant numbers of bass, white bass, crappie, walleye, yellow perch, catfish, and saugeye swim within the lake.
9. Cowan Lake
- Website: Cowan Lake
- Distance from Dayton: 42 miles (50 min)
- Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Sailing, Ice Fishing, Cross-Country Skiing, Sledging
Forty miles southeast of the Dayton area, Cowan Lake was once low-lying land that had remnants of mounds from a pre-Columbian Native American site.
After excavations were performed in 1949, plans were made to build a dam along Cowan Creek in 1950 in response to demands for new outdoor recreation areas. The 695-acre Cowan Lake took shape on this land, and the areas around the lake became a passive parkland.
Cowan Lake State Park was officially dedicated in 1968 after numerous improvements. The 1,075-acre park welcomes visitors with its mature woodlands that surround the lake, scenic lake inlets, a nature center, and its reputation for birdwatching throughout the year.
The park has a large campground, cabins, eight miles of trails, and a beach along the lake. Winter visitors come here to sled, ice fish, and enjoy cross-country skiing.
Anglers will notice an abundant number of bass, bluegill, catfish, and saugeye in the lake.
10. Deer Creek Lake
- Website: Deer Creek Lake
- Distance from Dayton: 63 miles (1hr 10min)
- Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Sailing, Ice Fishing, Ice Skating, Sledging, Snowmobiling
Deer Creek Lake is located approximately 60 miles east of downtown, south of Mount Sterling. A dam built along Deer Creek created this lake in 1968. Deer Creek State Park opened on land surrounding this 1,277-acre reservoir in 1974.
With the Deer Creek Lodge & Conference Center, campsites, cabins, a golf course, a marina, and a cabin that has historical connections to President Warren G. Harding, this year-round park is highly regarded throughout the state.
Deer Creek Lake is a popular place for anglers to visit. Crappie, catfish, and largemouth bass are frequently found in this body of water.
The Ohio records for rock bass and hybrid striped bass are from this lake, with the record-breaking rock bass caught in 1932 and the striped bass pulled from the lake in 2015.
11. Acton Lake
- Website: Acton Lake
- Distance from Dayton: 40 miles (55 min)
- Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Sailing, Ice Fishing, Cross-Country Skiing, Sledging, Ice Boating, Ice Skating
Forty miles southwest from downtown, Acton Lake appeared near a beech-maple forest along land once held by Matthew Hueston, who had fought alongside General Anthony Wayne during Indian wars in the area in the late 1700s.
The state took possession of Hueston’s ancestral lands in the 1940s, adding acreage to create the 3,524-acre Hueston Woods State Park that opened in 1957.
Part of the park’s design involved the impoundment of Four Mile Creek to create the 590-acre Acton Lake in 1956 as an important part of the park. The lake is named for Clyde Acton, a lawmaker who encouraged colleagues to buy the property.
Today, Hueston Woods has an extensive network of hiking, biking, and horse trails, as well as beaches, picnic areas, nature areas, campsites, and the Hueston Woods Lodge & Conference Center.
Those who fish near the impressive forests surrounding the lake will find crappie, largemouth, bass, bluegill, and saugeye.
12. Whitewater Lake
- Website: Whitewater Lake
- Distance from Dayton: 49 miles (1hr 5min)
- Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Ice Fishing
Less than 15 miles west of Acton Lake and Hueston Woods, Whitewater Lake is a popular destination that is surrounded by Whitewater Memorial State Park.
This 200-acre artificial lake contains the flowing waters of Silver Creek. The park has hiking and equestrian trails, and offers fishing, boating, and swimming opportunities.
Lands acquired in the late 1940s led to the creation of this state park in 1949, an entity within Indiana’s park system that honors and serves as a memorial to those who fought in World War II.
A unit within the Brookville Lake-Whitewater Memorial State Park Complex, this park is part of a larger recreation area in the region.
Channel catfish, bluegill, and largemouth bass swim within this lake.
13. Brookville Lake
- Website: Brookville Lake
- Distance from Dayton: 58 miles (1hr 15min)
- Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Sailing, Ice Fishing
Immediately west of Whitewater Lake, the US Army Corps of Engineers erected a dam along a portion of the East Fork of the Whitewater River to create Brookville Lake in 1974.
Designed as a flood control measure, the development of the 5,260-acre reservoir also led to the creation of two recreation sites.
The Quakertown State Recreation Area is located on the upper west side of Brookville Lake, a short distance from Whitewater Lake. A campground, hiking trails, and boating and fishing trails are found at Quakertown.
A larger site near the reservoir’s lower eastern shore, Mounds State Recreation Area also has facilities that attract visitors.
These combined sites provide convenient access for anglers who fish for channel catfish, walleye, bass, and muskellunge throughout the year.
14. Clarence J. Brown Reservoir
- Website: Clarence J. Brown Reservoir
- Distance from Dayton: 37 miles (45 min)
- Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Sailing, Sledging, Ice Fishing, Snowmobiling, Cross-Country Skiing
Clarence J. Brown Reservoir came into existence after the US Army Corps of Engineers impounded a section of Buck Creek to control flooding.
After the dam’s completion in 1975, this 2,120-acre reservoir on the northeastern outskirts of Springfield attracted a great deal of interest among those who enjoy outdoor recreation.
Fishing within the reservoir allows guests to catch walleye, bass, crappie, muskie, bluegill, and catfish.
The federal C.J. Brown Dam and Reservoir day-use area has picnic shelters. South of the dam, the 60-acre Old Reid Park offers sports fields and courts, along with a fishing area in Buck Creek immediately beyond the dam.
Buck Creek State Park provides lake access for those who wish to bring their vessels to the reservoir, along with opportunities for hiking, biking, camping, horse-riding, and other outdoor activities.
Snowmobiling, ice fishing, sledding, and cross-country skiing are popular during the winter.
More Lakes in Ohio:
Beaches in Ohio: