First visit to Punderson doesn’t disappoint
We visited Punderson State Park in Geauga County recently. This is one of the few parks (and the only lodge) in the 74-park Ohio system that I had never seen.
It is located just about a half-hour drive east of Cleveland. And I must say, it was a very pleasant surprise – especially the lodge.
Unlike most state park lodges that are modern in style, the Punderson lodge is a remodeled and extended English-Tudor manor house that dates from 1929. Although construction started that year, it wasn’t actually completed until 1948. And it has been upgraded and remodeled twice since then. Its 31 rooms have all the modern amenities, including wi-fi, cable TV, and coffee-makers. There are both indoor and outdoor pools.
Xanterra Resorts now manages the lodge and the food was very good in the dining room. Dining was indoor or out and both offered great views of Punderson Lake. The bar had an excellent selection of wines from Ohio and elsewhere. Some of the wines were for sale in the gift shop.
Since it was a summer weekday, there wasn’t much to do in the park itself. The boat rental (rowboats and trolling motors) appeared closed. But there were a few private fishing boats on the lake.
We did play 10 holes of frisbee golf on a course that was rugged and muddy and provided a real workout. The campground that sits on the site of a former Indian village appeared to be busy.
It is the only state park that I have ever visited that has an ice rink, sledding hill, and both cross-country skiing and “musher” trails – evidence that it is a busy place when snow is on the ground.
This park has a colorful history and has long been a getaway for Cleveland residents – even before it belonged to the state.
It’s named for Lemuel Punderson, the first permanent settler in the area, who came in 1808 and eventually built a dam and grist mill at one end of the lake.
It developed into a resort in the early 1900s with cottages and a small hotel. In 1948, the Ohio DNR’s wildlife division bought the lake and surrounding land for hunting and fishing. It was transferred to the parks division in 1951.
I took a walk along a wooden path that wound past to lodge and ended up among the 26 family cabins. It was a pleasant stroll with great views all along the way. A good way to spend a summer afternoon.