Little Beaver Creek, Ohio, US
2. State Park to Fredericktown (Sprucevale Reach)
||I(II) (for normal flows)
Surfin on the Lil Beav (KHCC)
Surfin on the Lil Beav (KHCC)Photo by Steve Zerefos (KHCC) @ about 350 cfs
Little Beaver Creek runs from the Lisbon area generally eastward to the Ohio River near East
Liverpool. It is the site of the Sandy and Beaver Canal from the canal boom in the nineteenth
century and the remains of dozens of the old stone locks are visible from the creek. Beaver Creek
State Park, near Elkton, has a rebuilt lock and grist mill, as well as several other restored
historical buildings. This park is helpful to the paddler, providing access and parking, camping,
and a phone in water level gauge. Another recreational possibility to be aware of is the North
Country National Scenic Trail, which passes through the park and along the creek.
The character of the creek is basically gentle, with slow current and little depth at normal
paddling levels. The stream bed is mostly rocky, with serious strainers being a rare occurrence.
Class I riffles are found along the length of the creek, with plenty of opportunities to practice
eddy cuts & peel-outs. There is only one serious rapid, a class II that approaches class III at
higher water levels, found just downstream from the Fredericktown access. This is a good stream for
beginner kayakers to learn their water reading skills and to develop the basic surfing/ferrying
skills, as well as getting the feel of easy rapids.
The start of this section is at the State Park. To get there exit off route 11 at route 154 and
head east towards Elkton. Just past the Elkton post office (on the left), route 154 turns to the
left. Go straight here, down CR 419 and continue till you reach the stop sign at route 7. Turn to
the right onto route 7 south, and continue about a mile. Turn to the left up a steep hill at the
intersection with the brown and white state park sign pointing towards camping. Follow this road up
the hill, past the campground on the right, and another mile or so till it comes to a stop sign.
Turn to the right at the stop sign, following the gravel road back down the hill. The state park is
immediately across the bridge at the bottom, with the painted on gauge on the far side of the
bridge, left hand side. There is parking all along the bottom here, and access is easy.
The take-out for this section is at Fredericktown. The land surrounding this town, and most of the
property in it, belong to one family. This land is being preserved as a wildlife refuge and
trespassing is not allowed (please observe the signs). You'll also notice that the whole community
is posted with 'No Parking' signs. Please be careful of where you park so as not to polarize the
locals against paddlers. To get to the best parking spot leave the put-in the way you came in,
across the bridge and up the hill. Continue past the road on the left that you came in on, to the
stop sign by the church a quarter mile further on. Turn to the left and go on to the first
intersection, where you turn to the right. Follow this road down the hill to the first fork in the
road, where you take the right fork. Follow this road a few miles till it comes to a stop sign on
route 170. Turn right on 170 south and follow it down into Fredericktown. The village is very
small, with a bridge over the creek just past the center. Turn to the right at the small road just
over the bridge and drive a few hundred feet, over the tiny bridge to a small roadside parking
space. If you go around the sharp turn to the left, you missed these tiny parking spaces.
This section can be broken in half by using a midway take-out. This access is at a part of the
state park known as Gretchen's Lock or Sprucevale. To reach Sprucevale from the put-in return
across the bridge, up the road you entered on. Continue past the road on the left that you came in
on, to the stop sign by the church. Turn right here, and follow the road about 4 miles or so, till
it drops back into the creek valley. You'll see an old stone mill on the left, with the entrance to
the Gretchen's Lock area directly across from it. Drive on to the back parking lot for the best
This section of the creek has more of the small riffles that characterize the upstream section of
the creek, with a few rapids that are a little more powerful. As you paddle downstream, you'll come
across the remains of an old lock right up against the water on the left side of the creek. There
is an island in the creek here, with the locks visible down the left channel. At the far end of
this lock several of its large stone blocks have fallen into the creek, forming a small rapid
called Lock Ledge. This small ledge is easily avoided, but can provide a nice surfing spot for
beginners (the photo for this section shows Lock Ledge at about 1'-8" on the park gauge). As of
2007 these blocks have been moving slowly downstream, changing the nature of the rapid with every
high water event.
Farther down the creek another lock appears against the water on the left side of the creek, and
just past it another island lies in the middle of the creek. The best rapid of the section is in
the right channel at the island, against the right bank. About half way down the island a large
rock forms a nice wave, known as Piano rapid. This rapid is a great little surf hole, but it may be
hard for beginners to catch the very small eddy against the bank. As of early 2007 there is a tree
down directly in the wave.
Not long after Piano you come to the Gretchen's Lock access, with the only bridge of the section
crossing the creek at the far end of the park. There are some big pools downstream of Gretchen's
Lock, interspersed with islands and small rapids. The take-out at Fredericktown is at a pool just
upstream from the route 170 bridge, with a larger rapid below it. If you want to run this rapid,
known as Eagle, there is a pretty good trail on the right bank for carrying your boat back up to
the parking area.
PARK N PLAY
Don't think that this creek is ever going to be a major destination for playboaters, but Piano wave
is good for beginner/intermediate surf at a wide range of water levels. Even at the minimum level
(300 cfs) it can be surfed, though the ledge is barely under the water and the fun level is
minimal. When the gauge gets to 600-700 cfs the fun level increases quite a bit. Just above 1000
cfs you get the best play, as the wave deepens and lengthens a bit. As the water rises the wave
starts to lose definition - at about 2500 cfs (2ft9in on the stick gauge at the park) the main wave
is hard to get on, but the secondary wave is well defined. At this level you might want to head
down to Fredericktown and check the waves on Eagle rapid instead. To park n play at Piano, head to
the Sprucevale (Gretchen's Lock) section of the park and carry upstream about 1/2 mile from the
parking lot. When the foot trail splits from the horse trail go another 100 feet and launch. The
wave is on the other side of the island.
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2007-03-08 22:14:15