When you hear the name Tallgrass Trail, you probably think of walking, jogging, and bicycling, long before you think of boating; however, the Marion County Park District recently announced that canoes, kayaks, and other non-motorized watercraft may be used on Marion Community Foundation Lake. The 53-acre lake, which stretches for a half mile along the eastern end of the Tallgrass Trail, ranges from 1-15 feet deep, with an average depth of 5-6 feet.
“We’ve been getting lots of requests for kayak and canoe access,” said County Park Board chair Dan Sheridan, “and we’re thrilled to offer this to the community. The Tallgrass Trail exists so that people can exercise while enjoying nature, and people-powered boating is a logical extension of this.”
The County Park District recently added a crushed stone parking lot along Herr Road, at the northwest corner of the lake. A walking trail, which circles the lake, connects the parking lot to the lake. Sheridan cautioned that motor vehicles are not permitted on the walking trail, so users need to be able to manually transport their boat a hundred feet or so to the water.
Naturalist James Anderson said, “The easiest place to put a kayak or canoe in the water is along the western shore of the lake. This spot is close to the parking lot, and the slope to the water is shallow.”
Anderson explained the ground rules for boating at the lake:
- This is for people-powered boats only. No motors of any kind are allowed.
- You must follow Ohio boating and fishing rules. The boat must have tags from the state, and anyone 16 or older is required to have a fishing license if they will be fishing. Children ten and under must wear a life jacket, and we encourage everyone else to wear one.
- We don’t allow swimming or wading, although we do realize that you may need to step into the water in order to board your watercraft.
- We ask that you respect the wildlife. bald eagles and trumpeter swans frequent the area, and beavers live in the lake. Please leave them alone.
- The park is open from dawn to dark, so the hours will vary with the season. We don’t allow night boating or fishing.
A 2017 fish inventory by the Ohio Division of Wildlife showed that the lake contains a healthy and varied population of fish. According to Anderson, this includes largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, pan sunfish, yellow belly catfish and carp. The County Park District partners with the Division of Wildlife and Marion County Sheriff’s Office to allow state wildlife officers to monitor compliance with fishing and boating rules while helping to enforce park rules.
Marion Community Foundation Lake is located next to Herr Road, about three miles west of Marion between SR 95 and SR 309. The Tallgrass Trail stretches for 12.4 miles from 2093 Holland Road West to its western termini on Hardin-Marion Road at the county line.
For more information, including a trail map, see www.MarionCountyParks.info