Nimisila Reservoir: Part of the Portage Lakes
By Stephanie Walton
Looking for first-class fishing, kayaking, camping or birding opportunities in northeast Ohio? Summit Metro Parks has it all – right in your back yard. Located in Green, Nimisila Reservoir is one of 13 water bodies that make up the Portage Lakes, and at 825 acres, it’s also the largest body of water in the Summit Metro Parks district.
A Rich History
Nimisila Reservoir was the last of the Portage Lakes to be created, with the reservoir originally providing for the ever-expanding water needs of Akron’s industrial complex. Built in 1936 by the federal Works Progress Administration, the reservoir was created when an earthen dam 44 feet high and 2,350 feet long was built on Nimisila Creek.
Historically, Nimisila was an important trading post for European settlers and Native Americans, and the old portage path was part of the ancient territory boundary. The area was a recognized landmark during the War of 1812, serving as a rendezvous point for American troops.
In more recent history, a World War II airplane crash-landed in the reservoir on a training mission from Goodyear. According to legend, it remains stuck in the mud somewhere underwater
Drop a Line
If you’re a serious angler, Nimisila Reservoir is the spot for you. The lake is known for its channel catfish and largemouth bass, and other fish in the lake include northern pike, walleye, bluegill, black and white crappie, yellow perch, brown bullhead and redear sunfish. With only electric boat motors permitted, the pace at Nimisila is slower and quieter, making for a good fishing experience no matter what the day’s catch may be.
Paddle the Reservoir
Those who enjoy kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding will love Nimisila for its serenity and calm waters. Not comfortable yet with your paddling skills? Summit Metro Parks offers a variety of naturalist-led programming for all skill levels, at Nimisila and other area lakes. Paddle with a certified instructor and a naturalist to learn strokes, practice safety techniques and see wildlife around the water. Visit www.summitmetroparks.org for more information or to register for a program.
Camp Out with Us
Once you arrive at Nimisila, you may not want to leave. Twenty-nine individual campsites are available at the campground for just that purpose. Located near the eastern banks of the reservoir, all sites are equipped with a fire ring and picnic table. Six of the sites have electricity and three are ADA accessible. Campsites accommodate a tent or tents with combined floor space under 200 square feet, or a camper, RV or truck camper and a tent. There are no showers or drinking water at the campground, but it does feature a boat launch, playground and several graywater stations.
Reservations may be made online through Reserve America (www.reserveamerica.com) and in person at the park district’s administrative offices at 975 Treaty Line Road, Akron.
During peak season (May-October), sites with electricity are $30/weeknight and $35/night on weekends (Friday-Sunday) and holidays. Non-electric sites are $25/weeknight and $30/night on weekends and holidays. A flat processing fee applies to each reservation, and a 25 percent senior discount is available Monday through Thursday nights during peak season for people 60 and over.
For the Birds
An important migratory stop-over habitat, the reservoir is home to many species of waterfowl, as well as eagles and osprey. In late summer, Nimisila is also the staging area for several thousand purple martins. The birds roost on the lake’s grassy islands during the night, feast on the insect population and then continue their migration south for the winter. This nightly roosting ritual is a spectacular sight to behold.
Other Area Lakes
Summit Metro Parks also manages Munroe Falls Metro Park in Munroe Falls and Silver Creek Metro Park in Norton, both of which offer lake swimming from May 25 to August 11. Visitors can also rent pedal boats at Munroe Falls, and pedal boats, canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and rowboats at Silver Creek. At Summit Lake in Akron, Summit Metro Parks operates a “pop-up nature center” offering a variety of nature and water-based programming opportunities. The park district is currently in the process of converting the historic Summit Lake pump house into a permanent lakeside nature center.
Come see us!
Nimisila Reservoir Metro Park: 5550 Christman Road, Green
Munroe Falls Metro Park: 521 S. River Road, Munroe Falls
Silver Creek Metro Park: 5000 Hametown Road, Norton
Summit Lake Nature Center: 390 W. Crosier Street, Akron
Contact Summit Metro Parks at 330-867-5511 or visit www.summitmetroparks.org for details, hours and directions.