Tappan Lake, Ohio, USA

Also known as:  Tappan Reservoir

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Tappan Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

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All About Tappan Lake

Lake Locations: USA - US Midwest Region - Ohio - Northeast Ohio -

Tappan Lake is a 2,350-acre reservoir in Northeast Ohio, one of a series of lakes managed by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created the lake in 1936 with construction of a dam across the Little Stillwater Creek. Tappan Lake controlled flooding along the Muskingum River as part of the Ohio-Mississippi Flood Control Program. There are ten permanent dams with lakes draining to the Muskingum River and four ‘dry dams’ which impound water only during periods of high water. The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District manages activities in the lake easement areas- land controlled along the shoreline to allow for flood-stage storage. Two additional dams have since been built but are not under MWCD management. Tappan Lake has become a favorite recreation destination since its creation.

In addition fo 2,350 acres of water, another 5,000 acres of land along the 47-mile shoreline offer many activities for the public to enjoy. A series of causeway bridges carry US 250 traffic along the northern shore and over several arms of the reservoir. Part of the area along the northern shore is developed with lake view homes; however, the homeowners do not own to the water’s edge. A lucky few can lease dock space from the MWCD. There is plenty of space for the general public to access the lake for all types of recreation. Two public launch sites, including one at the marina, offer boaters access to the water. A 399 horsepower limit exists on the lake, and no-wake areas and rules must be followed. Water skiing, tubing, sailing, wake-boarding, sail-boarding and power boating are all enjoyed. The shallow arms of the reservoir are particularly popular for canoeing and kayaking. A swimming beach is available at Tappan Lake Park along with a concession stand, picnic grounds, and playground. A hiking trail leads to Tappan Wetlands, a designated Watchable Wildlife Area.

Tappan Lake Park also offers over 500 camping spaces, many with full hook-ups. Both rustic camping cabins and ‘vacation’ cabins are also available and even have WiFi. A laundry, nature center, and an activity center all assure that there will be few cases of boredom among young visitors. Seasonal rental of campsites is so popular that a lottery is held to award space. The well-known Buckeye Trail System has its headquarters at Tappan Lake. From the lake serious hikers can access hundreds of miles of ‘blue-blazed’ trails encircling the entire state. Hunting in season is permitted in certain areas of the MWCD management area, both near Tappan Lake and within the nearly 55,000 acres of land under their control in the area.

Tappan Lake is a popular fishery. Channel catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, saugeye, smallmouth bass, sunfish and white bass are all caught. The Ohio Division of Wildlife regulates both fishing and hunting on MWCD lands and requires appropriate licenses be held and all regulations followed. Tappan Lake is especially popular for shore fishing as it contains more accessible shoreline than most reservoirs in the area. Its many arms offer excellent spawning habitat for many of the fish species, and casting from a boat in toward shore is usually productive. The marina rents boats including small pontoon rafts and sells bait, along with providing a restaurant and both overnight and seasonal docking. The marina arranges the rental of vacation cabins and hosts tournaments and seasonal events at the lake.

The towns of Uhrichville and Cadiz are less than ten miles in either direction. Both offer grocery stores, restaurants, and other shopping. A water park near Uhrichville will please the youngsters, while Cadiz holds a special treat for movie fans: Clark Gable’s birthplace and museum. The Clark Gable Birth Home, Museum and Store is a reconstruction of the original building where the movie idol was born in an upstairs room. Both the home and the bed-and-breakfast next door are decorated in period furnishings and hold Gable memorabilia. Gable didn’t grow up here: after his birth in the boarding house, his mother died seven months later and he moved with his father to a town not far away. That town, Hopedale, has nothing to commemorate Gable so the Cadiz Museum is a combined effort.

If these diversions are too tame, the City of Wheeling, WV is only 50 miles away and offers a ton of history and entertainment. This often-overlooked historic gem was the first capital of West Virginia and played an important role in the development of the young nation. A number of historical buildings still remain downtown. The Wheeling Artisan Center is being developed in former industrial space in the downtown area and already offers a variety of arts and crafts shops open for visitors’ shopping pleasure. Those wishing a little nightlife to add to their vacation should check out the entertainment venues in Wheeling. Both the Oglebay Institute and the Wheeling Symphony offer fine arts performances on a regular basis. The area in and around Wheeling also offers a variety of lodgings for those whose tolerance for camping has been exhausted.

Along with the camping and vacation cabin choices at Tappan Lake, visitors can often find private rentals near the shoreline. Other lodgings in the way of guest cottages, small motels, and bed-and breakfasts are found nearby. Conventional hotel rooms are found in the larger cities. Real estate is usually available near the lakefront, often with contractual rights to dock space on the lake itself. So if an Ohio vacation beckons, make the trip to Tappan Lake.

Things to Do at Tappan Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Museum
  • Playground
  • Shopping

Fish Species Found at Tappan Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Saugeye Perch
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • White Bass

Find Places to Stay at Tappan Lake

If you’re considering a Tappan Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Tappan Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Tappan Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Tappan Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 2,350 acres

Shoreline Length: 47 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 899 feet

Maximum Depth: 24 feet

Water Volume: 35,100 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1936

Drainage Area: 71 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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