Go for playgrounds, great lake views
There’s a fun family park below the dam at Alum Creek, but it appears nobody wanted the responsibility of coming up with a name for it.
It’s called the Below Dam Recreation Area, and it’s located near the dam’s spillway along Lewis Center Road.
Despite the uninspiring moniker, visiting the attraction for the first time is a perception-altering experience. The 93-foot-high dam is an impressive wall of concrete and an engineering feat that keeps the area from flooding. The 11-mile-long, manmade Alum Creek Lake is obscured from view at the park. What you see is a neatly mowed embankment with tiny, silhouetted people milling around on top.
There are few trees at the park, so it’s good to visit in the late afternoon when the sun is less harsh. There are two playgrounds with unique features, such as a webbed climbing tower. The picnic shelters were all in use the evening we visited. We witnessed a family on the big lawn flying kites.
But the real fun began when we climbed the dozens of steps alongside the spillway to get to the top of the dam. It’s a long way up, but it’s worth it for the view of the sprawling park below as well as the calm scenery of Alum Creek. We could see fishermen and sunbathers on the beach at the opposite side of the lake, and we walked across the top of the dam to witness the dizzying view to the water below.
It’s also apparently great exercise, as we saw several people running up and down the steps. One trip was enough for us, as we huffed and puffed at the top.
A sign about Alum Creek stated that its beach measures 3,000 feet and is the longest inland beach in Ohio. The reservoir was created in 1974 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It supplies water to the surrounding area and also serves as recreational spot for swimming, boating and fishing. Alum Creek Dam was constructed between 1970 and 1974 to contain the flow of Alum Creek. The waterway is a tributary of Big Walnut Creek, which drains into the Scioto River.
I’m not sure if our kids learned a whole lot about civil engineering during our visit, but it did divert their attention from computer screens for a while. And for that, we were thankful.
The Below Dam Recreation Area is located at 5905 Lewis Center Rd., Lewis Center. Learn more.