The 200-foot floating boardwalk is the second of its kind at Ohio’s state parks. The accessible boardwalk skims the shoreline of Wingfoot Lake and provides two 10’ x 10’ fishing access areas, as well as easier access to the nature center. Photo by Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Kayakers — and kayaker wannabes — have a new place to paddle, thanks to a recently installed kayak kiosk at Wingfoot Lake State Park in Suffield.
Each kiosk contains eight kayaks, paddles and lifejackets separated into easily accessible compartments. Park Manager Michael Studeny says kayakers can use their smartphones to scan a QR code on the kiosk to unlock a compartment, arrange online rentals, and then scan the code again to return the items.
The park’s marina, filled with paddle boats and more kayaks, is set to open in May.
Also relatively new is the park’s upgraded nature center and 200-foot floating boardwalk with two accessible fishing piers. Studeny is looking forward to upgrading the park’s 18-hole miniature golf course, replacing the deteriorating wood elements with more durable Trex.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has also partnered with Gov. Mike DeWine’s literacy initiative, adding a half-mile Storybook Trail that ties in to country music star Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
The current book, As the Oak Tree Grows, is available at Kent Free Library and Aurora Memorial Library in Portage County and at several Akron Public Library locations. Hardback and paperback copies are available online as well.
With the book in hand, parents and their children walk the trail and pause at 16-18 strategically placed child-height panels, each correlated with a page in the book. Every stop is an opportunity to engage in interesting activities that promote literacy, a healthy lifestyle and connections with nature.
The books, and the sign panels, change twice a year, Studeny said.
Children may also enjoy a kid-themed Little Free Library located at the beginning of the trail. As with all such libraries, children are welcome to take or leave a book.
Studeny estimates about 150,000-200,000 people visit the park each year. Among the activities and amenities at the park are:
Shooting & Archery Range: operated and maintained in partnership with Wingfoot Lake Bowhunters Club at their facility off East Waterloo Road, approximately a half mile from Wingfoot Lake State Park. Open daily October to February, and open Saturdays until 2 p.m. during March through September. Tournaments are held Sundays.
Motor boating, which is permitted on the 444-acre lake as long as boats remain at idle speed (no wake). Two launch ramps are located in the Wingfoot Lake Wildlife Area adjacent to the park.
Disc golf: an 18-hole disc golf course
Dog park: Two fenced-in areas, one for large dogs and one for small.
Fishing: Anglers enjoy fishing for bluegill and bass from the shoreline. There is an accessible fishing pier by the canteen. Additional fishing opportunities are available at nearby Wingfoot Lake Wildlife Area, which features a launch ramp. Ohio fishing regulations apply, and a valid Ohio fishing license is required for people age 16 and older.
Hunting: Contact the ODNR Division of Wildlife at 330-644-2293 or by email to inquire about hunting opportunities at the adjacent Wingfoot Lake Wildlife Area.
Nature Center: Winter Hours: Friday through Sunday, 2-6 p.m.
Picnicking: Scenic picnic areas with spacious shelter houses along the lakeshore and in wooded areas.
Playgrounds: Children of all ages can enjoy horseshoe pits, an 18-hole mini-golf course, and courts for basketball, volleyball and bocce ball.
Reservable shelters: Six reservable shelters with both open and closed styles, with the larger ones including fireplaces and other amenities. Firewood and charcoal are not provided. All shelters include grills and electrical service, and the enclosed Pinetree Pavilion features a sound system. Reservations are required by calling 866-644-6727.
Trails: Paved walking paths connect parking areas with picnic shelters, playgrounds, ball fields and recreational facilities.
Winter Activities: Under proper conditions, visitors may enjoy ice fishing, sledding and ice skating.
Upcoming events include a program on snakes from 1-2 p.m. April 30, “Coffee and Tea with the Birds” from 11 a.m.-noon May 1, and a beavers program from 1-2 p.m. May 7. All programs are led by Wingfoot Naturalist Richelle Gatto.
Wingfoot Lake State Park, originally owned by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., became part of the ODNR park system in 2009. It consists of over 121 acres on the north side of the 444-acre Wingfoot Lake and is adjacent to the 690-acre Wingfoot Wildlife Area. Visitors to the park can watch Goodyear blimps take off and land just across the lake.
To get to the park, take Goodyear Park Boulevard off Waterloo Road in Suffield. The house-lined boulevard looks like a typical side street, but in 0.2 miles the park entrance will be evident.
The park is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Call the park office at 330-628-4720 for more information.