Description - Much of the history of John Bryan State Park is "written in the rocks" of the Little Miami River gorge. Entering the area at Clifton, at 980 feet above sea level, the Little Miami drops 130 feet through layer upon layer of bedrock. Each layer has a story to tell of times when the area was covered by warm, shallow seas or was a part of a muddy river delta or was scoured by tons of slow-moving glacial ice. Each layer has its own characteristics as well. The forces of erosion, causing undercutting in the cliff face, easily wear some of the shale layers away. This undercutting weakens the more erosion-resistant dolomite or limestone rocks above and large "slump blocks" fall away, creating unusual rock formations including Steamboat Rock. Springs feeding small waterfalls and cascades are common.
Copyright: Ohio Department of Natural Resources
John Bryan State Park
The glaciers did not only affect the landforms, they also had an effect on the vegetation found here. As the last glacier retreated and the climate warmed, the cool shaded recesses of the gorge valley provided a suitable habitat for several Canadian plant species: Canada yew, redberry elder, mountain maple, arborvitae and even a few hemlocks. More than 100 different trees and shrubs have been identified in the park and more than 340 species of wildflowers grace the landscape. Birdlife is abundant with approximately 90 species recorded.
- The family camp area at John Bryan has 100 non-electric partially shaded sites equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, latrines, drinking water and a dump station. Campers with pets are permitted on any site. A 100-person group camp area is available for organized groups on a reservation basis.
The day use lodge is available for rentals throughout the year. The lodge is equipped with two fireplaces, restroom facilities, large screened-in porch and kitchen with stove, refrigerator and a 50-cup coffee maker. It's perfect for family reunions or youth banquets.
The Little Miami River provides excellent stream fishing opportunities for anglers. Smallmouth bass, rock bass and pan fish are in abundance. It is also excellent for canoeing. A launch area near the park on Jacoby Road provides access to this scenic river. As the river twists and bends, visitors will discover steep rock cliffs, towering sycamores and many historic sites along the way.
The park has four different picnic areas: upper, lower, Wingo and Orton. The lower area and Orton area each have a shelter available on a first come, first-served basis. All areas have tables, grills and latrines. Some areas also have drinking water.
Nature lovers can enjoy any of the ten different trails found in the park. Trails follow the scenic river gorge and meander through majestic woodlands. A portion of the Buckeye Trail travels through the park. Caution should be exercised along the rim of the gorge.
A rock climbing and rappelling area has been established within the park. Please stop at the park office to register for an available site. Organized groups may reserve the rappelling site by calling the park office.
Several areas are designated for bow hunting only. A valid Ohio fishing and / or license is required. Fishing is prohibited in the state nature preserve.
Recreation - John Bryan State Park offers the outdoor enthusiast an opportunity to camp, fish, hunt, hike, use a day lodge, canoe, rappell, rock climb, sled, and cross-country ski. Wintertime draws cross-country skiers and sledders.
Climate - This state has four distinct seasons and a brilliant fall foliage display in it southern woods during mid October. Winter lasts from December through February with average temperatures near 25 degrees F. Low temperatures dip to single digits, but do not often drop below zero. Northern regions of the state receive average snowfall amounts of 55 inches, while the central and southern regions of the state receive lesser amounts with averages near 30 inches. This difference is caused by lake-affect moisture patterns.
Spring temperatures begin to warm the landscapes of Ohio by mid March and are in full swing by April. Temperatures range from 40 through 70 degrees F through the spring months. This season often brings the most rainfall, before the drying heat of summer. Summer can be extremely hot and humid in the interior of Ohio. Temperatures reach above 90 degrees F frequently through July and August. Cooler fall temperatures don't reach the region until mid to late September. This is a pleasant time to visit as the air is crisp with low humidity levels. Ohio's annual precipitation usually reaches slightly above 50 inches.
Located in southwest Ohio, John Bryan State Park is accessible off U.S. Highway 68 north of Xenia.