Dillon State Park

Dillon State Park

Dillon Hills Drive Nashport, Ohio 43830

Official Website
Dillon State Park map

Tips for Birding

There is a great variety of habitats within the park. The reservoir was constructed in 1961, and at that time many of the farm fields were allowed to grow into shrubby woodlands. There are still some grassy areas. On the hillsides, there are mature mixed hardwood forests. The reservoir itself is very shallow at the western end, due to silt build-up. Deeper water occurs nearer the dam. Trails include the Ruffed Grouse Nature Trail, approximately 3/4-mile long, which is a branch of the 6-mile long Licking Bend Trail and skirts the lakeshore. Three other trails, Blackberry Ridge Trail (1 mile), King Ridge Loop (1.1 miles), and Hickory Grove Loop (1.5 miles), are located very near the camping and cottage area. At the beach area parking lot, behind the tennis courts, is a short, paved trail giving an excellent view from above the reservoir and mudflats. This trail is the best to take in winter, as most of the others are not passable, and it affords a good look at a variety of waterfowl. From late July to October, use this trail to access the mudflats. In recent years, the mudflats have given way to shrubby growth, but sometimes there are still excellent shorebirds found in the area. In spring, watch for migrating waterfowl, and don’t be surprised to see a Sandhill Crane.

This is a Corps of Engineers lake originally constructed for flood control, so the water levels are artificially managed, which also tends to make shorebird habitats unreliable.

Main Park Entrance (beach area): From Zanesville, take OH-146 west about 7.5 miles to Clay Littick Drive (CR-708). Turn left and go about .7 mile. Bear left, and watch for signs on the right.

From Newark, take OH-16 east about 8 miles. Exit onto OH-146 eastbound, about 8 miles. Turn right onto Clay Littick Drive (CR-708). After about .7 mile, bear left and watch for signs on the right.

The Sportsman Club area: From Zanesville, continue on about 5.5 miles beyond the turn-off for the main entrance to Dillon State Park on OH-146 (past the town of Nashport) to Pleasant Valley Road. Turn left (There are signs at this turn.) Go about 5 miles and turn left into the Sportsman’s area. Pass the drive to the clubhouse, and continue on toward the boat ramp for the best birding.

The park is open daily from dawn to dusk, although not all facilities are open year-round.

There is a large parking area near the beach house and tennis courts. There are also paved lots at picnic areas A (where the Ruffed Grouse Trail begins) and C.

Anglers use this area extensively. Sometimes there are fishing hooks and lines along the shore, along with other litter. Canoes and kayaks can be rented in the area, and this may be the ideal way to access the best shorebird habitat. Canoes can be launched above Black Hand Gorge, and follow the Licking River through the gorge and into the Dillon reservoir.

Birds of Interest

A good time of the year for Bald eagles, waterfowl, Northern Harriers, and gulls (year-round). Also, most woodland birds can be found here, including Pileated Woodpecker. In the past, Snow Buntings have also been reported.
A good time of the year for Bald eagles, waterfowl, Northern Harriers, and gulls (year-round). Also, most woodland birds can be found here, including Pileated Woodpecker. In the past, Snow Buntings have also been reported.
Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, and Yellow-breasted Chats regularly nest in the area near the reservoir, along DNR Road #7. This road follows the north side of the reservoir from Dillon Hills Drive, past the Nashport boat ramp (no longer used) to SR 146. Near the Nashport boat ramp, look for Green Herons and Wood Ducks. Sora can sometimes be found, as well as Great Egrets and the ubiquitous Great Blue Herons. The habitat here may also be good for rails. Look also for Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Near the Sportsman’s area, look for Blue-winged and Yellow Warblers. There is a lot of good sparrow habitat throughout the park. Along the Ruffed Grouse Trail, look for Scarlet Tanagers and Baltimore Orioles. Cerulean Warbler has also been reported in this area. By late summer, begin looking for shorebirds on the mudflats near the beach area. These areas can sometimes be viewed from DNR Road #7, but often the best view is obtained by taking the paved trail, from behind the tennis courts and beside the beach-area parking lot. Just a few feet off the trail, especially along the horse trail, there are some excellent overlooks of the mudflats. Sometimes shorebirds can also be spotted from the boat ramp on the Sports Club road. A scope is recommended. There is also a muddy peninsula used by fishers, which is accessed from DNR #7, just northwest of and across from the equestrian area. Shorebirds can sometimes be seen from this peninsula with a scope.
Most common migrants make their way through Dillon. Continue watching the areas described above for shorebirds and waterfowl. This is a duck-hunting area, so the number of fall waterfowl is affected by the hunting season.

About this Location

Dillon State Park in Muskingum County is situated in an area of the state that possesses diverse and interesting natural features resulting from the unique properties of the Black Hand Sandstone. Sand, eroded hundreds of millions of years ago from mountains farther east, accumulated in a vast delta in the sea covering the region. This hard bedrock erodes to form sheer cliffs and supports a lush, hardwood forest.

The rolling, reverting farmland of the Dillon area provides visitors the opportunity to see some of Ohio’s most magnificent wildlife. White-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, and wild turkey can be seen by quiet observers. During migration, numerous species of waterfowl visit Dillon’s waters and sightings of bald eagles have also been reported.

Notable Trails

Dillon State Park Trails
Dillon State Park has 9.6 miles of multi-use trails, 1.25 miles of trails used exclusively for hiking, 15 miles of bridle trails, and 12 miles of mountain bike trails.
Licking Bend Trail – yellow – 6 miles
Ruffed Grouse Loop – red – 0.75 miles
Hickory Ridge Loop – white – 1.5 miles
King Ridge Loop – orange – 1.1 miles
Eagle Ridge Loop – pink – 0.75 miles
Blackberry Ridge Trail – green – 1 mile

There are hikes, 2.9 miles, 3 miles, and 7.4 miles, described on the AllTrails website.


  • Restrooms on site

Content from Official Website and Ohio Ornithological Society