Options available for swimming the heat away in Portage County

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Beachgoers enjoy the sand and water at West Branch State Park, one of at least a few places in Portage County where people can get some relief from the summer heat.
Beachgoers enjoy the sand and water at West Branch State Park, one of at least a few places in Portage County where people can get some relief from the summer heat.

With a heat wave blasting through the region for several days in mid-June and summer just officially starting, Portage County residents may be looking for ways to cool off while still being outdoors.

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West Branch State Park manager John John Trevellin said that on Wednesday, the hottest day of year so far, the park saw a lot of people looking to beat the heat.

"It doesn't matter if it's a weekday, my beach was fairly crowded last night," he said on Thursday.

For those looking to make a splash this summer, here are a few of the swimming options in Portage County:

Swimmers enjoy the lake at Woodside Lake Park in Streetsboro.
Swimmers enjoy the lake at Woodside Lake Park in Streetsboro.

Friendship Acres Campground

Address: 2210 state Route 44 in Randolph, just north of the Portage County Fairground.

Individuals wanting to take a dip in the inground heated pool do not have to be campers, said Dave Chalmers, Friendship Acres' owner for 28 years.

The pool is 30-by-60 feet and 3-to-4½ feet deep, making it especially suitable for children, said Chalmers.

The cost to swim is $5 for children and $7 for adults. The pool does not have lifeguards.

"All children must be accompanied by an adult," Chalmers said.

Amenities include showers and restrooms. The pool operates 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, weather permitting, from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day.

The campground also includes a restaurant, bar and grill, a large entertainment center featuring live bands and two catch-and-release fishing areas.

Call 330-325-9527 or go to https://friendshipacrescampground.com/ for more information.

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Nelson Ledges Quarry Park

Address: 12001 Nelson Ledge Road, Garrettsville.

Attempts at reaching the park by phone and email were unsuccessful.

According to the park's website, the spring-fed water in the quarry is clean — tested twice each season — and up to 30 feet deep "with many shelves, rock formations, fish and plant life. If chasing large-mouth bass, blue-gill, crappie and catfish sounds like fun, one can experience a wide variety of wildlife at NLQP."

Visitors can swim, scuba dive and snorkel in the quarry, and there are Red Cross-certified lifeguards.

Swimming is allowed 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day when the temperature is above 70 degrees and it is sunny.

There also is a campground, but with no water or electrical hookups, on the 250 acres, where visitors can also hike, bike and fish. In addition, there are full-court basketball and volleyball, as well as music and arts and crafts festivals.

Call 440-548-2716, email nlqpstaff@gmail.com or go to https://nlqp.com/ for more information, including rates for day and weekend passes.

Six-year-old Carson Freet plays in the sand along the lake beach at West Branch State Park.
Six-year-old Carson Freet plays in the sand along the lake beach at West Branch State Park.

West Branch State Park beach.

Directions: To get to the beach, enter the drive on the east side of the curve where Cable Line and Alliance roads intersect.

The approximately 700-foot beach is on the south side of Michael J. Kirwan Lake, which Trevellin said is a little over 2,600 acres in size. Swimming is free and open to the general public, but there are no lifeguards.

"It's swim at your own risk," said Trevellin. "And alcohol is not permitted."

There are restrooms and exterior showers at the beach, which is close to picnic areas with grills and a marina, where people can swim from boats in certain areas. There is a concessionaire at the marina.

"People want to cool off and relax and have picnics and other things," said Trevellin. "It's definitely one of the great places in the park to go when stuff gets hot. We know that warm weather is going to drive the crowd. It doesn't matter the day of the week."

There also is swimming at the campground across the lake, but only for registered campers.

No swimming is allowed after dark and pets are not allowed on the beach.

Call 330-235-0030 or go to https://ohiodnr.gov/go-and-do/plan-a-visit/find-a-property/west-branch-state-park for information.

Go to https://publicapps.odh.ohio.gov/beachguardpublic/ for Ohio Department of Health beach water quality advisories.

Woodside Lake Park

Address: 2486 Frost Road in Streetsboro.

The family-owned park features a nearly 5-acre lake for swimming.

"We do have it managed by professionals so that it's very healthy and clean and it's spring fed," said Pam Danner, who owns the park with her husband, Bob, and brother Michael Bezzeg.

The lake is up to 14 feet deep but is roped off, keeping younger children from venturing out of shallower water less than 5 feet deep, said Danner. Life jackets are provided and there are Red Cross-certified lifeguards. There also are showers.

"We also have the amenities of inflatables, which are 12-foot towers in the water that the young folks enjoy," Danner said.

Those using the inflatables, which are in the deeper water, must be at least 48 inches tall, but there is a slide in the shallower part of the lake for younger children. Also available are paddle boats, paddle boards, kayaks and water tricycles.

Fishing is allowed on the lake, but in a different location.

"Our fish are very understanding. They stay on their side and don't bother the swimmers," Danner said.

In addition, there is a picnic area with grills, a game room, volleyball and basketball courts, horseshoe pits and a playground. An annual Independence Day fireworks show is planned for the evening of July 3.

The cost just to swim or fish is $5 per person and an additional $10 to use the inflatables and other "water toys."

Swimming is 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., but fishing can continue until dark. The swimming season runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekends.

The Danners and Bezzeg have owned the park for 22 years, but the family's history with it goes back much further.

"My husband and his parents actually developed the park back in 1960," said Danner. "My husband and I met here in '67 and we were married in 1969. His parents sold the park in '73 and we bought it back from those owners in 2000."

Call 330-626-4251 or 866-241-0492, email to woodside@woodsidelake.com or go to https://woodsidelake.com/ for more information.

Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at jsaunders@recordpub.com.

This article originally appeared on Record-Courier: Options for outdoor swimming in Portage County for Summer 2022