Paddle the Little Beaver!

Walt Taylor was running his "Pagan Paddle" on Easter weekend, and for once I felt like going.  Walt, Jeff and myself teamed up in Walt's truck for the weekend, and had a great time!

The valley of Little Beaver is characterized by steep walls, high rock cliffs and numerous gentle rapids • Geologically, the valley of Little Beaver is extremely unique, being the only stream valley in the United States yet described, in which evidence of all four major glaciations is found
The flora of the park contains several interesting and unusual species, some of which are more commonly found in northern regions • Canada yew, yellow and black birch, hemlock and mountain laurel can be found in the deep stream valley • The stream banks are lined with delicate wildflowers including jewelweed, hepatica, violets and spring beauties
Many types of wildlife find the park's varying habitats inviting • Red fox, skunk, raccoon and white-tailed deer are commonly seen while the elusive wild turkey is making a comeback in the area • Recently, sightings of black bear have become more frequent

We headed out at about 1pm on Friday, with the Cabela's store in Wheeling WV the 1st destination.  Jeff set a time limit of one hour in the store, and that worked.  I was very suprised to find a pair of size 14 EEEE gore tex boots in the Bargain Cave - I have been needing to get a good pair of boots to wear while riding the scooter, lightweight running shoes will not do!

Next stop was go get the campsites at Beaver Creek State Park, and setup camp.  The primo campites for overlooks are 23, 24 and 25.
Beaver Creek State Park

Walt was somewhat dismayed at the number of campers, but we did find nice sites at the end of the loop that overlooked the valley.  23 was occupied, but 24 and 25 were ours.

Jeff, Walt and I went to Hoge's Restaurant for dinner, at Walt's suggestion.  They had Really good food - I would revisit anytime.

People trickled in on Friday night - Michael Lange, Tim, Mike and Kitty - and it got quite chilly, water bottles had a film of ice in the morning.  I had brought the warm bag, and warm it was!  Walt had to resort to using 2 sleeping bags.

Dan and Amy Pearse showed up Saturday morning, and Bill Miller.  Things were warming up by 10am, and that is when we left for the put-in.

The creek was well below normal levels for this time of year, but still a nice paddle.   
American Whitewater link for the lower Little Beaver

We did the lower Little Beaver on Saturday, from the park put-in to the Ohio River - about 15 miles.  

I had not realized that the Little Beaver had been extensively canalized.  The 73-mile Sandy and Beaver Canal was built in the mid-1800s and contained 90 locks and 30 dams 

Wikipedia entry for Sandy and Beaver Canal
 The creek was scrappy at the put-in, but soon settled down to deeper river sections with short, shallow riffles between.  

Many locks on the river, more than I had expected.   This is a great paddle for history and scenery!  The story of Gretchen's Lock whas sad and poignant. 

There were 2 rapids on the lower section of the Little Beaver that may cause some concern at higher water levels.  One is at the confluence of the Little Beaver and the North Fork Little Beaver. 

 The other rapid is near Frederickstown, about 3/4 of the way to the Ohio River.

We also saw 2 bald eagles on Saturday!

The take-out just above the Ohio River is very nice. there is a park with facilities and a picnic shelter. 

Sunday, Walt wanted to paddle the shorter section of the Little Beaver that have us take out at the same landing we used for the put-in on Saturday.   We saw a mink while waiting for the shuttle to return!

American Whitewater - Upper portion of Little Beaver Creek

    The morning was warmer than saturday, but clouds moved in while we shuttle was running, and a cool wind came up.  We were concerned about the water level, but it really was a fine trip.  I walked about 30ft of the first riffle below the put-in, and had to do a couple of other short walks later in the day - no real issue at all.  Just below the put-in we passed a sycamore tree that was a Great Blue heron rookery - very cool!
LOOK! - A Heron Rookery!

  Walt seemed startled!
This section of the river was different from the lower.  There were more deep sections divided by short riffles, with steeper creek sides and a lot of exposed shale cliffs..  There were also many hemlock groves.  We saw fewer of the big fish we saw in the lower section.  

I had time to try to figure what the bigger fish we were seeing just might be.

Here are my conclusions:

they were Redhorse Suckers - Ohio has 7 species, and 4 of them fit the location and size of fish

Golden Redhorse

Silver Redhorse

Black Readhorse

River Redhorse

or possibly large Creek Chubs

White Sucker is a possibility

as is the Northern Hogsucker

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