Surrounded by the lush, green farmland of northern Ohio, the Michael J. Kirwan Dam provides miles of clean waters and scenic countryside for your enjoyment. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers invites you to visit the reservoir and experience the outdoor recreational opportunities that await you.
The Kirwan Reservoir is an impoundment of the West Branch of the Mahoning River and is an ideal site to boat, camp, fish and enjoy year round outdoor activities. The reservoir and its surrounding lands are leased by the Corps of Engineers to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources as West Branch State Park. Visitors to the park will find numerous, well maintained facilities available for their enjoyment.
Ideally situated at the end of a long wooded peninsula, the West Branch State Park Campground features 200 newly renovated campsites – 155 with electric that are suitable for either trailer or tent camping, 29 full service campsites, 14 without electric and two group campsites. Each site is equipped with a picnic table and fire ring and campers will find restroom and water facilities conveniently located throughout the campground. The campground has heated showers, flush toilets, laundry facilities and a trailer dump station. Campers will also enjoy hiking the several well-maintained trails which traverse the campground peninsula campground peninsula.
All sizes and types of watercraft are found boating on the reservoir. Types range from cruisers and runabouts of unlimited horsepower – many with skiers in tow, to small fishing boats and canoes plying the coves and inlets in search of fish. Sailboats, with their colorful sails, are also found taking advantage of the summer breezes that come off of Lake Erie. The entire area west of Rock Spring Road causeway is a no-wake zone, excellent for a quite, leisurely boating or fishing trip.
Marine supplies, gasoline, boat rentals, docking facilities and a concession stand for hungry boaters are available at the modern marina located on the south shore. There are two concrete launching ramps maintained on the reservoir and the Fisherman's Parking Area, located on the north shore adjacent to the causeway, is ideal for launching canoes and other small boats.
Fishing at Michael J. Kirwan is a rewarding activity. The numerous deep feeder channels and shallow shoreline provide habitat for a variety of fish species. The reservoir has yielded many trophy size walleye, muskie and striped bass. Largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie and bluegills are also found in abundance. During the winter months, ice fishing is popular and many fine catches of walleye and panfish are taken. Prior to going onto the ice, anglers should check with the State Park or Corps Park Office for current ice conditions.
The 12 miles of mountain bike trails, developed by the Cleveland Area Mountain Bike Association, at West Branch State Park offer an outstanding biking experience and have earned a five star rating. The lakeside portion of the trail consists of flowing single-track that traces along the shore of the reservoir and includes many short climbs and descents in and out of the ravines that line the lake. This portion of the trail is suitable for most riders, although there are some challenging downhill sections that may be a bit much for the absolute beginner. The single-track on the south side of Cable Line Road is more technical and challenging and is not suitable for beginners. The Rock Gorge Trail offers some very scenic riding with single-track that drops the rider into a gorge with a flowing creek below and includes several very rocky sections. The Rock Wall Trail offers some extremely challenging rock riding for advanced/expert riders but should NOT be attempted by beginners.
Hiking enthusiasts can spend their time on any of the several trails. The State maintains several hiking trails adjacent to the camping area and an eight mile loop of the Buckeye Trail traverses the western end of the reservoir. The Corps maintains a nature trail, Little Jewel Run, located in the vicinity of the dam's outflow. In addition, there are also snowmobile, cross-country skiing and bridle trails available.
Even if you're just out for an afternoon drive sightseeing, why not stop and have a lakeside picnic at the reservoir? The picnic areas are conveniently located and are provided with picnic tables, shelters and grills for your enjoyment. Also, the park’s 700 foot sandy beach is ideal for cooling off on a hot summer day with clean restrooms and changing rooms.
If you like a nice leisurely walk, jog or a day of bicycling, then you will enjoy the dam access road. This two mile roadway, closed to vehicular traffic, runs across the dam for a spectacular view of the reservoir. Early spring and summer mornings are calming and beautiful when the sun's rays are just sparkling on the water and the early morning sky is an array of pinks and blues.