Richland and Ashland counties offer a number of campgrounds

PERRYSVILLE — With gas prices soaring past $5 a gallon and accompanying inflation, many people are opting for camping as a cheaper vacation option.

According to Harvest Hosts, 51% of travelers are planning to book campgrounds this summer.

Louis Andres, a park naturalist with the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, saw an uptick in campers even sooner.

“The last two years, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of campers,” he said. “COVID affected us differently than a lot of other businesses. People chose outdoor activities as opposed to indoor activities.”

Adria Bergeron is the director of marketing and communications for MWCD.

“It (attendance) continues to rise with the variables that come into play,” she said. “We are very busy.”

MWCD has eight campgrounds, including Pleasant Hill in Perrysville and Charles Mill in Mifflin.

Andres, whose home base is Pleasant Hill, said camping offers a number of advantages.

Camping allows people to enjoy nature

“The appeal is you’re out by yourself,” he said. “You can take your family unit and go outside.”

Campers can enjoy a day at the beach, hiking, kayaking or even horseback riding at Pleasant Hill.

Brynn Mulligan enjoys horseback riding while camping at Pleasant Hill Lake.  Jason J. Molyet/News Journal

Mike Gerard helped open the horse camp there in 2009.

“It used to be a ball diamond. It had a picnic area,” he said. “It’s the only equine campground in Ohio next to a lake. The whole setting is so different from what you find in most horse camps.”

On a recent afternoon, five horses were tied out on high lines. One of them munched on straw.

In addition, trails at the horse camp connect to Malabar Farm State Park.

Dan Stevens enjoys camping at Pleasant Hill Lake Park.

Dan Stevens, of Mansfield, is retired. He has had a camper at Pleasant Hill for six years.

“We’re 40 minutes from home. If we have to go back, it’s easy,” Stevens said. “It’s kind of relaxing through the week, especially. It’s still convenient for people to go to work.”

Stevens enjoyed some quiet time before campers arrived for the weekend. He was making shredded chicken and barbecued meatballs in a crock pot.

“We’re having a little get-together,” he said.

Some campers don’t mind longer drives

At least two people interviewed by the News Journal made fairly long trips to get to their campers.

Quinton Mulligan, his wife and two daughters made the drive from Oak Harbor, some two hours and 15 minutes away.

“We’ve been coming since 2018,” Mulligan said. “In this state, this is one of the closer ones (campgrounds).”

Lauren Mulligan of Oak Harbor enjoys lunch while camping with her family.

Still, Mulligan estimated it would cost $200 in gas “just to come down and back.”

“We try to stay at least three days. The price of gas sucks,” he said.

Mulligan said once his family arrives at Pleasant Hill, they don’t have to drive anymore, which he appreciates given the long drive home.

“The kids love it,” he said. “You can walk to the beach.”

Peggy Costic makes the trip from Medina. She said she and her husband drive a diesel truck.

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