Northeast of Chardon in the Lake County Metroparks, the Girdled Road Reservation has several miles of muddy horseback riding trails.
The trail leaves the north end of the parking area and out through fields before descending into the Big Creek valley. This starter trail is a semi bridle path. On the way to the decsent, several smaller trails diverge eastward, each enticing future exploration. At the creek, the bridle trail from the lot meets a single track. The blue blazed Buckeye Trail, coming from Big Creek Reservation upstream, follows this single track. While the main adventure is still down stream, the half mile upstream section must be checked out. The topo's indicate that the upstream section is on an abandoned dirt service road to a camp. This must have been in a different century since little trace of either exists.
The downstream section loosely follows the east bank of the Big Creek (really not so big). After quite a distance and a sharply cut back to cross Aylworth Creek, prepare to enter serious mud (actually deep humus) just prior to going vertical. After the ascent out of the valley, run the rolling path until the trail descends a narrowing ridge line. The track cuts east half way down this ridge line (which ends abruptly ahead) and heads into the hollow. The trail shortly drops into and out of the ravine via stairs. Since the trail ends shortly at a small parking lot on Girdled Road, I usually turn around at the narrowing ridge to avoid portage on the stairs.
The return trip is along the same single track in the valley. Maybe one of those eastward trails in the valley could form a partial loop back up to those crossing the fields near the main parking area.
To reach the trailhead from US90, Use Exit 200. Proceed south on U.S. 44 to Girdled Rd. Head east on Girdled and then turn right (south) on S.R. 608. At Radcliffe Rd. turn left and find parking lot 500’ on north side of road.
Overall, Girdled Road Reservation is the 24th most popular horse trail of all 32 horseback rides in Ohio.