What to do in Mary Jane Thurston State Park

Northwestern Ohio was covered by a massive ice sheet during the Ice Age. As the ice melted, the area from Fort Wayne, Indiana to western New York was covered by a large lake named Lake Maumee by geologists. With the retreating of the ice, new eastern outlets opened and eventually present-day Lake Erie was formed.

As the water drained from the state, swamps formed in the lowlands. The Great Black Swamp, 120 miles long and 30 to 40 miles wide, included the Maumee Valley. The heavily wooded swamp was a barrier to westward settlement. By 1900, through the use of a major system of dikes and ditches, the area was drained. The dark soils of the old swamp became fertile agricultural lands.

In 1928, Mary Jane Thurston, a Grand Rapids schoolteacher bequeathed fourteen acres of land to be used as a park. After several transfers and leases, Mary Jane Thurston State Park was dedicated in 1968. Adjacent property and additional land upriver, known as North Turkeyfoot Area, were purchased in 1968 and 1969.

Mary Jane Thurston State Park offers a small campground with 31 non-electric sites. Fifteen of these sites are designated for walk-in tent camping. Picnic tables and fire rings are provided. Latrines and restrooms are located nearby. Pet camping is permitted all sites. Additional walk-in sites are available in the North Turkeyfoot Area. Permits can be obtained at the park office.

Picnic tables, grills, restrooms and water are located along the river shore. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructed an enclosed day use lodge in 1936. This heated building can be reserved year round for reunions and meetings at a nominal fee. Contact the park office for details.

A one-mile portion of the Buckeye Trail passes through the park following the side cut canal. The trail continues on to the Village of Grand Rapids. A mile loop trail winds through the floodplain forest while an easy half mile trail circles the day use area. Six miles of trails in the North Turkeyfoot Area may be used for backpacking, horseback riding or mountain biking.

The Maumee River's northern pike, walleye, white bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, bullhead, sheepshead, and crappie offer good sport. Children can enjoy fishing in the pond near the marina. There are twenty miles of open water for boating on the Maumee River. Two launch ramps along with the marina are situated in the park. Contact the park office for a more detailed explanation of the open and closed areas and information pertaining to dock rental.

At North Turkeyfoot, there is a designated hunting area. The Maumee River provides excellent waterfowl hunting. A valid Ohio fishing and / or hunting license is required.

Situated along the historic Maumee River, people come to the park to fish, hunt, hike, bike, horseback ride, picnic, boat, camp, sled, cross-country ski, and ice skate.

Located on the banks of the Maumee River east of Bowling Green, Mary Jane Thurston State Park is accessible off State Route 65.

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.

1-466 State Route 65
McClure, OH 43534

Phone: 419-832-7662

  • Mary Jane Thurston State Park Travel Q&A