Trying to find a last minute resort getaway anywhere ( due to weather spoiling plans at previously planned resort getaway) is tough. Trying to find a weather report when you don’t know where you’re going to go, is even harder. Perhaps people don’t typically travel based on the weather…
but for this staycation at a resort I needed it to be sunny. Everywhere on the east coast seemed to call for rain, and the west coast flights get pretty pricey when you need a flight last minute. My instinct, pretty much always, is a Disney resort. Mainly because believe or not the hotel rooms there are cheaper than one would expect, with amenities you don’t get anywhere else, even if you’re not thinking of stepping foot in the parks. But, Orlando was getting rain- and not the one hour in the afternoon kind – the all day 90% chance kind for three days . Virginia Beach was another option as was the resort at Vero Beach. Nope, both locations had rain. A top notch place I could pretty much take a pilgrimage to and is always a first choice is the Travaasa resort in San Antonio, TX, but they too were getting rain and last minute rooms are around 500 bucks a night…so no. Finally, I found somewhere relatively close that wouldn’t need a flight that wasn’t going to get rain.
The Salt Fork Lodge at Salt Fork State Park in Cambridge, Ohio. Now, I’m not one to love the idea of travelling so far out into the wilderness, pass places like “Deerasic Park” , just for some tanning alone time. I had however seen pictures and as a state park lodge Salt Fork would boast most amenities for pretty cheap. Things I needed on this trip: beach chair, fitness center, hiking trails and beautiful things to take pictures of as I am still practicing photography. I also needed free wi-fi, free parking and a fridge in my room for my three day detox. In addition to all the above I also got a balcony with a view of the pool and three more nights racked up for my hotels.com loyalty program. Now, don’t get me wrong- they didn’t have a spa on site, so no facials or massages. It’s not the Hilton, so I didn’t get my free water and cookies like I do as a rewards member, but for what I paid (107/night) I was pretty impressed!
How to get to Salt Fork Lodge
Right off of I-77, the Salt Fork State Park is not difficult to get to. It is however in a pretty remote area. So plan to bring food or grab all your eats at the lodge restaurant. You will find a new burger place called 360 Burger on the way to Salt Fork if you’re coming from the south. Still quite far away from the park itself, it is an alternative if you’re looking for some awesome food nearby. There also isn’t any shopping around here. So you’ll need to stop in the outlier cities like Zanesville and Canton if you need last minute items prior to making your way towards the park.
Finding the park is quite easy as its rather prominent on the main road but the drive into the lodge is about an additional 10 miles after you actually turn in to Salt Fork State Park. There are lots and lots of deer here so be careful on the drive in, especially at night. They are everywhere. During the drive you will see signs for camping, the beach, the golf course, the archery target, and finally the lodge.
The Beach at Salt Fork
Yes, there is a beach here but there are no hiking trails from the lodge to get to it since it’s quite far away – a little over 5 miles. The map of this is deceiving because it does look like there would be multiple trails hat connect all elements of the park. But no. The camping sites are slightly closer to the beach and would be a better bet. The beach, however, was not a stellar attraction and I actually chose to stay away instead. I feel bad about this, because I am a beach fiend, but really the resort pool just looked so much more inviting and clean!
Salt Fork Lodge at Salt Fork State Park
Since Salt Fork is a family resort you don’t have to worry too much about loads of drunk people tripping over your beach chair. Not that we don’t love our drunkard friends, but they do better at the cabins- far away from the kiddies. The walls are all quite thick- which is amazing- so much better than The Palmer in Chicago or The Menger at the Alamo– so you can’t hear other families or newlyweds through the walls.
The rooms are beautiful and the maids come once a day to take care of restocking items. The resort is split into two small wings across two floors of rooms and a ground floor that houses the game room and fitness center. Because the resort is quite small the ice machine is always close by, right in the middle of each wing on each floor and it’s never far to the exits, pool or restaurant.
The Pool at Salt Fork Lodge
In order to get access to the pool area you have to wear a small paper bracelet, at least if you’re going in the pool. The pool is open for certain hours, but you do have access to it pretty much anytime. And you can be sure the whole pool area is super clean. The staff are there every morning, spraying down the walks, the chairs, the tables, everything. Be forewarned, if you’re the type who will burn easily and plan to be at the pool, go early and claim a table with an umbrella. These are considered high end real estate and the guests who frequent the pool pretty much arrive at 9am and claim a table for the day. Mind you there is no shortage of seats or beach chairs so no worries on that account.
Things to do at Salt Fork Lodge
The lodge has a volleyball court, a tennis court, two bonfire pits, and a large picnic area. All in all the lodge houses so few guests that the extras are always available for use.
Additionally you’ll find all of your basic State Park offerings here. In the lodge specifically you’ll find a game room, indoor pool, outdoor pool, restaurant, fitness room, gift shop and common areas for lounging.
The restaurant offers meals for around the 10-14 dollar range, with breakfast options closer to 8 dollars. They also do have a very simple, very American, carry out menu that includes pizza and burgers if you’re busy out and about and not up for a sit down meal.
At the back of the lodge, towards the tennis courts is the Big Buck Nature Trail. This is a cute trail but very small and it often disappears into the forest floor. There aren’t really any views on this one, but it is a nice shaded hike for hot days and very easy to walk. If you’re looking for something with a little more of a view hike down past the pool, down by a small circular fire pit area towards where the parking lots are. You will see a pathway marked “down to cabins”. This is the path that winds through the woods down to the lake cabins. A very simple walk with a beautiful view at the end of it, so be sure to venture down if you have a minute.
If you’re looking for something a little more involved you can access another path from the far end of the parking lot facing the entrance of the lodge. If you walk away from the lodge past the basketball hoops you can take a clearing in the grass to the 2 mile trail that leads to the campsites. You can also access this trail by parking at the Golf building and walking down to the entrance of the trail.
There wasn’t nearly as much hiking here as I had originally thought. Lots of small truncated trails makes it feel walkable but nothing like Hocking Hills or Mohican.
As a cheap weekend getaway I would highly recommend this type of relaxing trip. As a bonus the lodge ( as all state park lodges I imagine) sends around via email after your stay a 20% off coupon towards your next stay at any state park lodge. Since Ohio has 5 State Park Lodges I do have plans to try them all out at some point. What was nice about this was that this wasn’t even a direct booking ( as I booked through hotels.com) and I still got the coupon, so make sure they have your email.