Lake Milton, Ohio, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Ohio - Northeast -

Also known as:  Milton Reservoir

Mahoning County’s Lake Milton in the Northeast Region of Ohio holds a century’s-worth of history along its picturesque shores. The area was part of the Connecticut Western Reserve, a 120-mile-wide strip of land granted to the colony of Connecticut in 1662. Once the settlement of Youngstown was established on the Mahoning River in the late 1700s, and coal discovered in the area, it wasn’t long until a growing nation’s need for steel led Youngstown to become Ohio’s steel manufacturing center. When the need for a reliable water supply for the mills and the growing population forced the City of Youngstown to plan a reservoir, 3,416 acres were purchased upstream along the Mahoning River and a dam built to create Lake Milton. First completed in 1917, Lake Milton has endured massive changes in use and development. Now the lovely lake offers water-based recreation, serene lake vistas, and outdoor enjoyment to its many residents and visitors.

Lake Milton covers 1,685 acres along the impounded Mahoning River about 10 miles west of Youngstown. There are no large cities along its shores, but many families call Lake Milton home. Milton Township governs the small neighborhoods and developments stretched along its 23-mile shoreline. The historic community of Craig Beach is the largest village on Lake Milton, although nearly all of the shoreline is developed and contains year-round homes. These are the homes of lakelubbers who spend much of their leisure time enjoying all Lake Milton has to offer. Lake Milton provides great swimming, boating and fishing; most lakefront homeowners have their own docks and many have a small swimming area.

The State of Ohio owns the lake itself, which is designated a part of Lake Milton State Park. Property owners around the shore pay a small fee to maintain their private docks in front of their property. There are no restrictions on motor size so the lake is a favorite of water-skiers, jet-skiers and power-boaters. Some areas are designated no-wake zones, as is the area near the shoreline. Three public launch sites mean not only property owners can enjoy a day of water-filled fun. Lake Milton is a great lake for pontooning and kayaking, with a well-treed shoreline and loads of natural wildlife co-existing with the residents. It isn’t uncommon to see a large variety of waterfowl, particularly during the migratory season, and bald eagles can occasionally be seen perched in the treetops.

Fishing is always a major drawing card at lake Milton. The lake supports walleye, largemouth bass, yellow perch, bluegill, smallmouth bass, crappies, white bass, suckers, channel catfish and muskellunge. The Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources stocks walleye and muskellunge regularly; both are a big attraction for game fishermen. In winter, much of the lake freezes enough that ice fishing is a favored pastime. The water level is usually lowered about six feet in winter to avoid ice damage. The lake is ideally located within driving distance of both Youngstown and Akron-Canton, making it a great place to raise children and commute to work. Lake Milton is within two hours of several large cities – Cleveland, Columbus and Pittsburgh – so it’s also a favorite for summer cottages and seasonal living. Two golf courses near the lake make sure that golfers in the family are content. The Lake Milton Association organizes activities and fund-raisers to complete special projects around the lake. The Lake Milton Ski Club has completed a water-skiing slalom course near the south end of the lake for their members and are working on building walking trails at the north end.

Lake Milton State Park has day-use facilities at the north end of the lake near Craig Beach and mid-lake near the causeway. The popular park offers a swimming beach, picnic facilities, walking trails, boat launch, playground, wheelchair-accessible fishing dock, basketball and volleyball courts, restrooms and a new Nature and Arts Amphitheater for presentations, concerts and productions. In winter, the trails are open for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Although there is no camping at Lake Milton State Park, a private RV campground is available on the Mahoning River south of the reservoir from which campers can access the lake itself. Fuel and seasonal dock rentals are available at the State Park-owned marina near the causeway.

Lake Milton’s future was in serious doubt at one time: the lake was only used as a water supply for about 10 years before the State Health Department declared the waters of the Mahoning River that flowed through Youngstown as unsafe to drink. A new reservoir was built a few miles to the east on another creek, but Lake Milton was still vital in controlling the water that flowed through Youngstown’s industrial areas. So important was this role, that a guard was stationed at the dam during WWII to insure the nation’s steel production was not endangered. By that time, an amusement park and rental cottage community had already made Craig Beach one of northeastern Ohio’s most popular recreational lakes. A 300-couple dance hall kept the area swinging through the big band era. Steubenville native Dean Martin got his start here when a friend challenged him to sing with the orchestra! Craig Beach went from a community of 10 families during the winter to thousands each summer as visitors filled the 500+ rental cottages in the community. Craig Beach was actually incorporated so that the dance hall could remain open on Sundays. Unfortunately, the amusement park failed financially during the Depression, was sold, and the new owners saw a major decline in attendance after a fatal roller coaster accident. Eventually, the amusement park was no more. Craig Beach settled into being a quiet lakefront community.

By 1984, it was obvious that the Lake Milton Dam was failing, and no more patching would maintain its integrity. The dam was finally breached and the lake went dry temporarily. Youngstown relinquished control of the dam to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. A new, modern dam was constructed, and the State enlisted the Army Corps of Engineers to maintain it. Lake Milton State Park was born, with facilities on the grounds of the old amusement park at Craig Beach. Since that time, the lake has returned to its former beauty, with fish stocked regularly and water quality carefully monitored by the State of Ohio. It is likely quieter than it was during the amusement park phase, but enjoyed by just as many visitors.

Residents at Lake Milton have the best of two worlds: lakefront living and nearby big-city amenities. There is a nationally-known water park only half an hour away, and zoos at both Akron and Cleveland. There is a wild animal/safari park a few miles to the east, arts and historical museums in Youngstown and major shopping in all of the larger cities. Restaurants and pizza parlors exist at Lake Milton, along with other basic services both in Craig Beach and in nearby towns. A few private rentals can still be found for a week or a season. New condos invite visitors for both seasonal and year-round living. And there is always real estate available in a wide variety of prices. Formal lodgings in the way of hotels and motels can be found in both Youngstown and Akron. So come and visit beautiful Lake Milton – you’ll be hooked. And, just maybe, so will one of those muskies!

Things to do at Lake Milton

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Museum
  • Playground
  • Amusement Park
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake Milton

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sucker
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • White Bass
  • Yellow Perch

Lake Milton Photo Gallery

    Lake Milton Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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