The 4000 acre Beaver Creek State Park is nestled in the sandstone foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, just a few miles west of the Pennsylvania border. The generally calm waters of Little Beaver Creek flow within the gorge of this richly forested river valley, over 30 miles of which were designated National Scenic River. The valley is characterized by steep walls, high rock cliffs (relative to Ohio terrain) and gentle rapids. The remnants from numerous locks are evident along the river from the mid-1800 era Beaver Canal, which extended 73.5 miles with 30 dams, 90 locks and 2 tunnels.
There are 23 miles of bridle trails on both shores and ridges. Nice loops can be formed, however, the bridle trails are unbelievably muddy throughout their entirety.
There are several black beer dens among the rocky cliffs above the river -- empty (luckily) except for their old fecal remnants. This was not uncommon since black bears seek out a new den each year in caves, rock ledges or under trees in regions of inaccessible terrain with thick bushy cover. I guess that about describes these ridges.
Look for the remnants of Gretchen's Lock just short of Sprucevale (the eastern parking area). Gretchens Lock (No. 41) was built by an engineer, E. H. Gill, who had come to America from Europe with his wife and daughter, Gretchen. According to legend, Gretchens mother died on the trip over and was buried at sea. Later, Gretchen died during the construction of the lock and was entombed within the stonework. Her casket was removed when Mr. Gill returned to Europe several years later, however, during the return voyage the ship sank with all hands from a storm. Many tales are told of a ghostly apparition near the lock site.
To reach the horseback riding trailhead from Youngstown, proceed south on SR 7 for 18 miles past the Ohio Turnpike (Exit 16). At Bell School Road, head east to Echo Dell Road. Take a left and proceed down into the river valley. Use the parking lot past the park office near river.