ElevationAscent: 150' 46 m
Descent: -134' -41 m
High: 1,065' 325 m
Low: 991' 302 m
GradeAvg Grade: 1% (1°)
Max Grade: 6% (3°)
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“A mostly flat area with some nice lake views but it can be difficult to follow your first time.”— Kevin Madzia
Enter the park through the main gate on Manchester Road, and follow the park road all the way to the end to the large parking lot at Turkeyfoot Beach. The trail starts on a gravel path that runs behind the playground set; go right to take the trail clockwise, or left to go counter-clockwise.
If you go clockwise, the gravel path takes you down past the sand volleyball court. Continue across the middle of the sand, and look for an un-marked entrance to the trail towards the left-hand shore of the lake. This will take you out to the end of a short peninsula, then continue back on the other side of the peninsula. If you're only looking for lake views, just do this and skip the rest.
If you go counter-clockwise, then shortly after you get past the playground, turn right down a gentle slope towards the end of the beach. You'll see a miniature lighthouse near the shore; turn left there and follow the trail signs.
This trail exemplifies what frustrates me about many trail systems. The signs are intended to help people who don't know the way, but the signs are put up by people who already know the way, so sometimes they can be quite confounding. The online map says the Shoreline Trail is a 5-mile loop. The maps on-site say the trail is 3.5-mile loop, but there is also a Shoreline Extension Trail, so you have to look for that to do the whole five miles.
However, the on-trail markers don't make any distinction between the main trail and the extension. There are maps at major intersections, which are often helpful, but some intersections with no map or signs at all. One map shows a three-way, but it's actually a four-way, so I was left to decipher which of the four was the one not represented. I assumed it was the one with the gas pipeline signs, but no, that's wrong; you DO want to follow the gas pipeline signs to continue on the Shoreline Trail. Another sign seems to tell you to hop over a fence into the dog park area; you really just need to run around the fence and pick up the trail on the other side.
To help navigate this route and prevent wrong turns, use the Trail Run Project mobile app.
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Need to Know, Flora & Fauna
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Land Manager: Ohio DNR - Portage Lakes State Park