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Difficulty I(II)
Length 7 Miles
Gauge Little Beaver Creek near East Liverpool OH
Flow Range 300 - 15000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 32 minutes ago 114 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 03/08/2007 10:14 pm

River Description

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 access.


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.


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.

Rapid Descriptions


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Craig A. Andrews
6 years ago

Thank you Hammock, If the water level stays over 500 by Sunday I may hit Little Beaver Creek this weekend. First time out this year! Dear Hammock, I see you went on April 30th. How was the water and how were you dressed? I am thinking the water temperature was probably 50 - 55 degrees. Were you in a canoe or kayak? I am eager to go but do not have a full wet suit or dry suit................................................................................................................................................................................................................. On August 9, 2013 (2nd time in the kayak) I took my son, 15, (1st time in a kayak) from Beaver Creek State Park to Gretchen's Lock (Sprucevale Road). The flow was 1100 cfs. It took us a little under an hour on the water for the trip. The water was flowing well. There was one spot near half way were my son was on the left side of the stream and got caught on a bend where the water was keeping him from moving further. After paddling for a little while he finally paddled straight west and caught a current that pulled him out. At no time was he in any danger he just needed to learn to get out of the easy situation. This is the second time from the State park to Gretchen's Lock and the trip is great for beginners. My first trip was with flow at 241 cfs. This was a little low and took 2.5 hrs. We never had to get out to carry the kayak (weight 168 lbs. and stayed right on all splits) but we did feel rocks on the bottom several times. Next post will be when the flow is above 1500 cfs.

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Scott Wilson
6 years ago

Andrecg71, The water was cool. I think you are right guessing around 50 degrees or so. We had on our farmer john wetsuits with boots and were glad we did because of the cool weather. If the air is warm and the sun is shining I'd say go for it without the wetsuit. We were in our kayaks and really didn't get that wet although the river was running kind of slow that day.

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Scott Wilson
6 years ago

We were doing the Sprucevale to Grimms Bridge section on 4-29-14. The flow was about 500cfm. Just past the horse park at the S turn there was a tree across the river at the first turn. Portage is on the rivers right. Immediately after the S turn there is another tree although the river was low enough we were able to get under that one. Otherwise the portage would be on the rivers left to get around that one. I see that the flow is way higher today and climbing so I don't know what that will do to the obstructions. Shortly downriver from there we saw an amazing gathering of bald eagles! A total of eight, one adult and 7 juveniles all together in the same stretch! Awesome! One of the juveniles swooped down and wacked the head of a blue heron. Quite the sight. The ride took about 3 hours.

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12 years ago

Paddled this on June 26th. Flow was about 400 cfm. Not very deep through entire run. We are new to Kayaking but this was very fun for us. We didn't really have to paddle much if we didn't want to, we even fished quite a bit through the slower areas. We put in at the place in Elkton and took out right before Gretchens Lock. Entire trip took 3.5 hours. I am thinking of taking the kids and putting in at the same place and take out at Lusk Lock, it should only be 1 or 1.5 hours for this (I think). There was a tree across creek about 20-30 minutes before the Gretchens Lock Bridge which we were able to go under, but this may be a problem if water was higher. Did this again this spring 2010, the tree across the river is gone. the water was about 500cfm and it took about 4 hours but we paddled most of the way and didn't fish at all. Should have taken out at Gretchens lock ( where we did last year) and not at sprucevale bridge. It is a good area to take out because the last half hour or so was too long for us.

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John Rasinski
13 years ago

STRAINER WARNING. About 1 mile downstream from the Sprucevale Bridge, the creek cuts a hard right corner which looks like it disappears. Approach the corner with caution as it collects strainers, and root-balls. A portage may be necessary (river left). Coordinates N 40.72°, W 80.57° (WGS84), Rough Run enters just upstream of this point.

Gage Descriptions

There is a gauge painted on the bridge at Beaver Creek State Park. The water needs to be at least at the 1 foot mark to paddle, a level roughly equal to 300 cfs on the online gauge. The rangers at Beaver Creek State Park will relay the mornings reading by phone at (330)385-3091.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports



article main photo

New Hydro Project for Cuyahoga (OH)

Thomas O'Keefe

The Cuyahoga River, the river that burned, played a pivotal role in the birth of the nation's river conservation movement. While restoration gains have been significant, a proposal for a new hydropower project on a dam targeted for removal would represent a signficant setback in ongoing restoration efforts and would delay for at least half a century any effort to bring back the lost whitewater that sits buried behind the Ohio Edison Gorge Dam. Paddler participation at upcoming scoping meetings is important.

Stephen Zerefos


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1191264 03/08/07 Stephen Zerefos n/a