William H. Harsha Lake


Louisville District
Published Jan. 10, 2024
Ariel view of the Dam and tailwater at William H. Harsha Lake in Batavia, Ohio.

Ariel view of the Dam and tailwater at William H. Harsha Lake in Batavia, Ohio.


Ariel view of the Dam and tailwater at William H. Harsha Lake in Batavia, Ohio.

2185 Slade Road
Batavia, OH 45103-9707
Telephone 513-797-6081
Office hours: M-F, 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. (may vary, call ahead)

Office hours: Sat.-Sun., 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m Spring and Fall (may vary, call ahead)
Office hours: Sat.-Sun., 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day (may vary, call ahead)

Please visit our Facebook page by clicking here.

Welcome to William H. Harsha Lake

Located on the East Fork of the Little Miami River in central Clermont County, William H. Harsha Lake and East Fork State Park offer outstanding boating, hiking, hunting, fishing, camping and other outdoor recreation activities.  William H. Harsha Lake is a multipurpose project for flood reduction, water supply, recreation, and wildlife habitat.  Originally called East Fork Lake, the dam and lake were renamed in 1981 to honor retired congressman William H. Harsha.  Mr. Harsha was elected to Congress in 1960 and served until his retirement in 1981.  He was instrumental in getting the funding appropriated to construct the project.

We hope that your visit is safe and enjoyable, and that you will return often.

While the Corps manages the dam operations area, Ohio DNR Division of Parks – East Fork State Park operates many of the recreation areas.   Federal Recreation Passports are not accepted at the East Fork State Park Campground.

General Information


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is committed to providing universal access so that the lake facilities and programs will be available to the widest possible range of visitors, including people with disabilities. William H. Harsha Lake has the following accessible facilities:



Visitor Center and Overlook

Exhibits, Restrooms, Overlook, Picnic Shelter


Picnic Site, Picnic Shelter, Fishing Access

Boat Ramp

Picnic Site, Restrooms, Boat Ramp Pier

East Fork State Park

Office/Restrooms, Cedar Cabin, Camper Cabin, Restrooms, Boat Ramp Floating Dock, Fishing Pier


Dam and Lake Facts 

Dam Type:

Earth Fill

Maximum Height:

200 feet


1,450 feet

Drainage Above dam:

342 square miles



Elevation (Feet Mean Sea Level)

Area (Acres)

Length (Miles)









Total Storage






To view rules and regulations concerning the public use of land and water areas under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers click here.

For more information on Hunting/Fishing Rules or Regulations, contact:

Division of Wildlife Headquarters
1840 Belcher Drive
Columbus, OH 43224-1300
(614) 265-6300
1 (800) wildlife
Click here.

For more information on Ohio State Parks Rules and Regulations, Click here.

For more information on Ohio DNR Division of Watercraft Rules and Regulations, contact:

Division of Watercraft Headquarters
4435 Fountain Square Drive
Columbus, OH 43224
(614) 265-6480



Imagine racing across a beautiful lake in a powerboat or jet ski, sending a plume of white spray behind or sailing under clear skies with a steady wind and strong sails. Enter a quiet cove to cast a line and catch bass, bluegill or crappie, or glide slowly past an ever-changing shoreline with the only sounds of canoe or kayak paddles dipping into the water. If any of these scenarios sound appealing, plan a visit to Harsha Lake today. William H. Harsha Lake offers 2,160 water acres for boating enthusiasts of all types. Six launch ramps, including one for registered campers only, offer easy access to any area of the lake.

All Ohio DNR Division of Watercraft regulations apply. A no-wake zone extends 300 feet from shore around the entire lake. No-wake zones are also marked in narrow channels and around launch ramps. Boats are not permitted in the area adjacent to the dam and control tower.

Boat Ramp Availability
No fees are charged to launch your boat at William H. Harsha Lake. Boat ramps are normally available year-round except during construction activity or times of high water or other unsafe conditions, such as ice-covered ramps. The Corps and Northshore Boat Ramps may be closed and access to the west bay may be restricted during special events such as rowing regattas. Check the Events Page for dates.


East Fork State Park operates a 416-site class A campground located off SR 32 at the Half Acre Road exit. Each site includes 30 or 50 amp electric hook up, a paved pad, a picnic table and a campfire grill. Several full-hook up sites are also available. The campground offers four cedar cabins and four camper cabins. Seventeen sites are designated for campers with horses.

The campground also offers two walking trails, a beach and boat ramp exclusively for registered campers. Campsites are now reserveable by calling 1 (866) 644-6727 or at Ohio State Parks.

Four primitive campsites are available to backpackers who register to hike the Steve Newman World Walker Perimeter Trail or the Backpack Trail.


Tailwater Recreation Area – This area offers fourteen picnic tables with grills that are always available on a first come, first serve basis. A picnic shelter with eight tables and two grills may be reserved.

Corps Boat Ramp – This cozy site offers five tables with grills and is popular with boaters and anglers. This site is not reservable.

East Fork State Park Picnic Areas

Matt Maupin Pavillion - Located at the Main Beach, this large shelter has a sweeping view of the lake and is open to picknicking on a first-come, first serve basis at this time.

Beech Grove – Located just above the Beach on Park Road # 2, this site offers tables and a grill, and is shaded most of the day.

Indian Mound – Located on Park Road # 2 across from Park Road # 3, this area has a shelter that is available on a first-come, first-serve basis and several picnic sites. The Elk Lick Indian Mound can also be found at this site.

Apple Blossom Meadow – This area is located on Park Road # 1. It includes tables and a grill, and is shaded most of the time.


Children will enjoy the playground equipment recently added to the Tailwater Recreation Area.  It is located near picnic sites, a reservable picnic shelter and fishing access.  You will also find a playground at the Williamsburg Community Park and within the East Fork Campground in Loop C.

Fishing and Hunting

The beautiful waters of William H. Harsha Lake offer innumerable opportunities to catch the "Big One." Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife stocks the lake with hybrid striped bass and walleye, providing the angler with two of the most thrilling game fishes found in inland waters. Crappie, bass, bluegill and channel catfish can be caught in the lake and tailwater. Fly fishing has also become popular in the river downstream from the dam. Anglers may fish anywhere along the lake shoreline except boat docks and ramps, and immediately below the Control Tower.

Approximately 5,000 acres of public land is open to hunting at William H. Harsha Lake. Hunters need to be aware of the various restrictions. Most of the area is managed by the Division of Parks and Recreation. Sunday hunting is not permitted on park administered land.

East Fork State Wildlife Area and the open water area of the lake are open to hunting during legal times and dates, including Sundays.

All Ohio DNR fishing and hunting regulations apply. Fishing and hunting maps are available from the Ohio DNR Division of Wildlife. Copies are also available at the Corps of Engineers Visitor Center and the East Fork State Park office. For general wildlife information, visit the Division of Wildlife website.

For more information contact:

Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Division of Wildlife District 5 Office
1076 Old Springfield Pike
Xenia, OH 45385
Phone: (937) 372-9261

East Fork State Wildlife Area Manager
c/o Indian Creek Wildlife Area
4258 Snow Hill Road
Fayetteville, OH 45118
Phone: (513) 875-2111


Ohio State Park regulations restrict swimming to the following designated areas at William H. Harsha Lake:

Swimming is only permitted at East Fork State Park's Main South Beach located off State Route 125. Registered campers may swim at the Camper's Beach.  Swimming is not permitted in non-designated areas such as boat launching sites, designated mooring points and public docks. Swimming is also not permitted along the lake's shoreline.

Lifeguards are not provided, swim at one's own risk.

State Park regulations state that flotation devices may not be used while swimming. U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets may be worn.

Boaters may swim from their boats in the designated area only. The Boat Swim Area is the wide cove between the Main Beach and Tate Boat Ramp.

Ohio State Parks require permission of the State Park Manager to scuba dive in Ohio State Parks.

If you have questions about swimming, contact the park manager at (513) 734-4323.  For information about water quality monitoring at East Fork State Park's two swimming beaches, click here.

Group Picnic Shelters

Planning a family reunion, company outing or social get-together? Two group picnic shelters may be reserved in the Corps Operations Area. Current rates are $75 for weekends and federal holidays, and $35 for weekdays. The Tailwater and Overlook Shelters may be reserved by calling the Visitor Center at (513) 797-6081.

The Tailwater Shelter accommodates 60 people and is conveniently located near a playground and fishing access below the dam.  Electric is available at the shelter and water is located at the nearby restroom building.

The Overlook Shelter accommodates 40 people and is conveniently located near the Visitor Center and Overlook.  Electric and water are available at the shelter.  

If you would like to reserve a Shelter and/or the Overlook for your wedding, contact the Visitor Center at 513-797-6081 to request a special events permit. 

Volunteer Opportunities

Here at Harsha Lake, volunteers help maintain all the natural wonders the park has to offer, and help others to appreciate them through a variety of tasks. Volunteering is for those who enjoy the outdoors, have a few hours to spare, and enjoy meeting new people. Check out the list below for a volunteer opportunity to suit your skills and abilities.  If you see anything that interests you, call 513-797-6081 or contact the webmaster.

Boundary Maintenance – With over 30 miles of park boundary, volunteers can help survey, mark and clear the park boundary.

Program Assistant – Every year school children, scouts and other groups visit William H. Harsha Lake. Volunteers can share their love of the outdoors with people of all ages.

Public Lands Day – Spend a crisp Autumn morning keeping the park cleaner and safer for all to enjoy. Great for families, scouts and students seeking community service hours. This event is held in September.

River Sweep – This annual event draws families, groups and individuals to help the entire park with a variety of projects. Participants might plant trees or flowers, build trails, clean up litter from boat or canoe, or grease bluebird posts. Make plans to be a part of this event in April.

Trail Maintenance – Hiking is a favorite activity at William H. Harsha Lake. Volunteers are needed to walk trails, remove debris, look for safety hazards, and aid with trail improvements.

Wildlife Management – At William H. Harsha Lake, volunteers help wildlife to thrive. Volunteers might gather prairie seeds, plant trees, create a wetland pond, gather seeds of trees, shrubs and flowers, or remove non-native plants.

Wildlife Monitor - Become a Nest Box Monitor, checking up on bluebirds, tree swallows, chickadees and wrens. Or, become a Butterfly Monitor and count red admirals, tiger swallowtails, hairstreaks and more!

You can find more information and volunteer applications at the Volunteer Clearinghouse

Water Safety

Enjoy an outstanding outdoor recreation experience while visiting William H. Harsha Lake. Visitors planning to hunt, camp, hike or picnic near the water, or fish, swim or enjoy other water sports are asked to use common sense and practice water safety. Lives depend on it. Remember, water safety is everyone's responsibility.  For more information about water safety including fun activities for children, click on the water safety link on the right.

No matter where the location or size boat, safe boating should be the number one priority. For more information, call Boating Safety Hotline at 800-368-5647. Call BOAT/U.S. Foundation Courseline for a class at 800-336-BOAT or go to the BOAT/U.S. website for an on-line course.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary performs boat safety checks free of charge at the Corps of Engineers Boat Ramp. The exams are usually scheduled in May - July. Contact William H. Harsha Lake to see when the next boat safety checks are scheduled, or go to the Coast Guard Auxiliary website and click on vessel safety to find out what is included in a safety check and how to schedule one.  The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Watercraft also offers boating safety courses and performs vessel safety checks.

Brand New Life Jacket Loaner Program!
Boating at William H. Harsha Lake has just gotten a little bit safer because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has teamed up with Boat U.S. Foundation to offer life jackets for temporary loan. Let's say you have guests for the weekend. You want to take them out on the lake, but you not have enough life jackets for everyone. Just call our office at 513-797-6081 to request a loan and stop by between 7:30 am and 3:30 pm to pick up a life jacket on loan for the day or weekend. After a day on the water, just drop off the jacket at the Visitor Center located on Slade Road near the dam. This program will run from May 1 through the end of September.

Are You Next?
Expect the Unexpected - Wear Your Life Jacket

A slip or fall overboard can happen to anyone.

Wearing a life jacket buys time for you to be rescued.

It takes an average of 60 seconds for an adult to drown, but just 20 seconds for a child.

A STRONG swimmer averages 10 MINUTES to put on a life jacket after entering the water. How long would it take YOU?

Regardless of how well you swim, you could have to fight for your life due to unexpected conditions such as waves, current, exhaustion or injury.

A fellow swimmer or boater can help you when you encounter the unexpected, so never swim alone.

Swimming abilities are likely to decrease with age, so don't overdo it.

If you won't wear a life jacket for yourself, WEAR IT for those who love you.

Remember these tips to be safer in and around the water:

Learn to swim WELL.

Always swim with a Buddy.

Never dive into unknown water.

Do not overload the boat.

Alcohol, drugs and water do not mix.

Always wear a life jacket; it's a friend for life.

The leading causes of boating accidents are capsizing, falls overboard, and collisions. Be safe while boating. Learn the rules of the road. Keep a distance from other boats and fishermen.

Alcohol is believed to be a factor in more than 40 percent of fatal boating accidents. Alcohol induces fatigue, and affects coordination and balance. In combination with motion and engine noise of the boat and the effects of the sun, wind and glare, alcohol can be deadly for anyone on the water.

Life jackets can prevent serious injury or death, but will only work when used properly. Boat Smart from the Start - Wear a Life Jacket.


William H. Harsha Lake and East Fork State Park offer an extensive trail system for hikers, bikers and horseback riders, with over 70 miles available for short rambles or several-day jaunts. In the Corps Operations Area, hikers will find access to three trails. The North Entrance to East Fork State Park gives access to many miles of bridle trails open to hiking plus two walking trails in the Campground. The South Trailhead Access Parking Lot is the main staging area for hikers, backpackers and mountain bikers alike. Also located in the South Entrance to East Fork State Park are three walking trails. Trail Maps showing trailheads may be obtained from East Fork State Park and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Corps Operations Area Trails:

Deer Ridge Trail – Located across from the Visitor Center, this ½ mile trail tells the story of change in the East Fork River Valley. Maps of this interpretive trail are available from the Visitor Center and at the trailhead.

Tailwater Trail – Located below the dam near the restroom building, this one-mile loop climbs a steep hill through mature woodlands and an open field. Spring wildflowers are plentiful, and deer and other wildlife may be seen year round. (White Blazes)

Steve Newman World Walker Perimeter Trail – The park’s longest trail may be accessed from the Spillway Entrance Parking lot by hikers and horseback riders. It is a challenging 31.5 miles and is blazed in green. A section of the Buckeye Trail follows this same portion of the Perimeter trail. For more information, contact the Buckeye Trail Association at P.O. Box 254, Worthington, OH 43085, or visit their website.

North Entrance Trails – Bridle Trails open to Horseback Riding and Hiking

Perimeter Trail – This 31.5 mile loop trail for riders and hikers alike is East Fork’s longest and most demanding trail. It provides beautiful scenery and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities year-round.  It can be accessed from Horseman’s Loop A and via the Campground Trail.

Cascades Trail- Named after a steep-sided ravine. Sparkling waters tumble over limestone bedrock, forming miniature waterfalls. This three-mile loop trail winds through hardwood forests and offers challenging ravine crossings. (White Blazes).

Pin Oak Trail – A three- mile loop through mostly flat fields and woods, this trail offers good viewing of wildlife. (Red Blazes).

Twin Bridges Trail – This nine-mile loop takes the rider along rocky, picturesque creeks with miniature waterfalls and offers scenic views of Harsha Lake. It has many steep ravine crossings. (Yellow Blazes).

Red Fox Trail – This challenging five-mile loop crosses many steep ravines and winds along the hilltops high above Harsha Lake, offering spectacular views. (Orange Blazes).

Campground Trail – This two-mile trail connects the Horseman’s parking lot with the Horseman’s Camp Loop. (Medium Blue Blazes).

Connector Trails – These trails allow the rider to shorten a loop or switch to a different trail, and are marked by white squares with a colored dot in the center.

Campground Walking Trails

Whippoorwill Trail – Park in the Camp Office parking lot and find the trailhead just to the west. This trail traverses wooded hillsides and bubbling creeks. Look for wild turkey in the mature woods. Access to the Perimeter Trail is located across from the Camp Office lot.

Fern Hill Trail – This moderate but challenging two-mile trail provides hilly terrain and many stream and ravine crossings. The trail is located just north of the Camper’s Beach parking lot, and is open to registered campers only.

South Access Trailhead Parking Area Trails

Backpack Trail – This 12-mile trail, blazed in red/orange, provides a moderate hike through oak-hickory forests and open fields. Two overnight areas are accessible from this trail, and all backpackers must register with East Fork State Park.

East Fork Ridge Mountain Bike Trails – Dedicated to mountain bikers, these trails are also open to hikers. Three loops of varying skill levels take the adventurer through wooded hillsides and beautiful meadows. A map is available at the State Park Office and Corps of Engineers Visitor Center.

Steve Newman World Walker Perimeter Trail – Popular with hikers and equestrians alike, this is the park’s longest and most challenging trail at 31.5 miles. It is blazed in green, and circles the entire lake. Four overnight areas are provided, and registration is required.

South Entrance Area Walking Trails

Cedar Pond Loop Trail – An easy loop trail located just west of the Turkey Ridge Shelter area on Park Road # 1. It offers a great opportunity to view wildlife and is one-half mile long.

Prairie Trail – Located across Park Road # 3 from the Blackberry Thicket picnic area, this trail is one mile long. It was developed through the cooperative efforts of the Division of Wildlife, the National Wild Turkey Federation and East Fork State Park.

Lake Trail – This moderate one and one-half mile trail begins at the south end of the Lake Overlook parking lot on Park Road # 3. This woodland trail offers abundant spring wildflowers and spectacular vistas of Harsha Lake year round. 


2024 calendar of events coming soon!

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Rangers are proud to offer a variety of programs and events for our community.  Many of the programs and events listed here are held at the Corps Visitor Center located at 2185 Slade Road, Batavia, OH 45103. Note: If you use MapQuest, GPS or similar tools, the visitor center is located approximately one and a half miles further on Slade Road, just past the main dam and boat ramp.

If you are an educator looking for a special activity for your group, scroll down to the bottom of the page for information about how to schedule a program with a Park Ranger.

Always call ahead to confirm the program is being held by calling the Park Ranger at 513-797-6081.