Ticket to Write: North Bass Island lets you really get away from it all
NORTH BASS ISLAND, Ohio — Travelers seeking an isolated Ohio getaway just hit the (very quiet) jackpot.
Sure, you can rent a cabin deep in the woods in the Hocking Hills, or backpack into the middle of Wayne National Forest. But if you really want to get away from it all, consider an island.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has just finished rehabbing a beautiful, 3,065-square-foot lakefront rental lodge on North Bass Island, population 8.
The building had been used for various functions by Meier’s Wine Cellars and Paramount Distillers, which operated vineyards on much of the island before the state bought the land in 2003. The state still leases 38 acres of vineyards to Firelands Winery in Sandusky.
The state did nearly $260,000 worth of repairs and improvements on the lodge, including a new roof, insulated siding, new windows, a new furnace and air conditioner and ADA-compliant parking. Craftsmen with the state’s Division of Forestry built the cabinets and tables.
For $350 a night, renters get four bedrooms, each with its own bath; an additional two beds in a cozy loft at the top of a spiral staircase; a gorgeous living room with a massive stone fireplace; a fully equipped modern kitchen; a washer and dryer; a rec room with a pool table and wet bar; an outdoor grill and patio — and no neighbors.
The lodge, which sleeps up to 12, even has two big-screen TVs and Wi-Fi, which might or might not be a plus for the get-away-from-it-all crowd. It's available for rent year-round.
"This is one of the most unique properties in the state of Ohio," said Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Jim Zehringer.
"It took a lot of work to get it ready," Zehringer said at a Sept. 20 ribbon-cutting at the lodge.
"It's very, very special."
The only drawback (if you’re not looking for nightlife) is transportation. No regular passenger service is scheduled to or from North Bass, also known as Isle St. George. Visitors can dock their own boat at the island's small marina, or take a small plane or a water taxi or charter boat from the mainland or Put-In-Bay.
Lodge guests will also have the use of an ATV during their stay to get from the dock to the lodge or to explore the island’s 688 acres, most of which is now part of North Bass State Park.
Visitors will find a historic church, a tiny post office and a closed one-room schoolhouse.
The island is ideal for bird-watching, especially during spring and fall migrations.
It’s also a terrific place to find "sea glass" — discarded glass, china and pottery worn smooth by water and waves and washed up on the island’s rocky beaches. Just before the ribbon-cutting, a park naturalist combed the beach and found a handful of sea glass that included a tiny piece of china from the Hotel Victory, the resort hotel on South Bass Island that burned down in 1919.
The waters around the island are also noted for walleye and perch fishing, and guests can hunt in season on the island’s designated public hunting lands for game such as rabbits or waterfowl.
But if you want anything else to eat, be sure to bring it. There are no stores or other businesses on the island.