A Celebration for the Senses

From whitewater to wineries to waterfalls, eastern Ohio offers visitors a natural feast.
Lisa Renze-Rhodes

For fortunate floaters on Little Beaver Creek, sounds of water sloshing through gentle rapids are cut by a bald eagle’s high-pitched call.

Those sounds, and the sights of a pioneer-era canal lock — officially Lock No. 27, but known locally as Lusk’s Lock — give the waterway a primitive feel that helps travelers easily imagine the pioneer days when the creek would have moved much more than people.

“That abandoned lock system, I’ve always been intrigued by that,” said John Pomeroy, who has spent the last several years helping vacationers and day-trippers get away from the tension of today to relax into a seemingly different time.

“I’ve had people from 5 to 85 make the trip. It’s a mild whitewater, not a flat, lazy river, but a gentle whitewater ‘get wet’ kind of trip,” Pomeroy said. “I always say it might not be for everybody, but anybody can make the trip.”

Pomeroy’s Beaver Creek Kayak Company, headquartered in East Liverpool, runs four-mile, eight-mile, 12- and 16-mile routes; the shortest trip is a minimum two-hour commitment, the longest a full day. He first fell in love with kayaking in the late 1990s, when he was living in Arizona and he rushed rivers that flow between steep canyons.

Pomeroy made his way back to Ohio, where he said spring rains make May and June days some of the best times to be on the creek.

“Those are the most reliable months, and it’s a nice flowing river,” he said.

Groups as large as 12 can set off at once, and Pomeroy said kayakers should plan to take it slow and easy.

“The most popular trip is the four-mile stretch,” Pomeroy said. “They’ll see bald eagles and white-tailed deer, and there are several places on the water way that are great for stopping and eating. You know if you want to pack a lunch, there’s so many places to stop and enjoy.”

A taste of the Midwest

Enjoying a leisurely afternoon is a mantra employed at Black Sheep Vineyard, found just over an hour south of Beaver Creek in Adena.

Open to visitors on Fridays and Saturdays, Black Sheep Vineyard offers 10 different wines, “Dry through sweet and things in the middle,” said Rebecca Black, who along with her husband John, owns Black Sheep.

Black said it was a research project she began when finishing her business degree that moved the couple to start the vineyard a dozen years ago.

“We started planting grapes because I was doing this research project. One thing led to another, we slowly started more grapes and then started remodeling the barn,” she said.

That barn — a peg and beam construction — serves as an open-air tasting room and guests can enjoy live music in what Black said is a “family atmosphere,” complete with hospitality ambassadors Polo and Foch, the couple’s mixed-breed dogs who wander among the company making friends with the guests.

“We get asked all the time, ‘Where are the dogs?’” Black said. “They’re extremely popular here.”

The couple made the move to winemaking slowly, she said.

“We learned how to make wine about three years before we opened,” Black said. “We had no idea if it would go, but it really has.”

Black Sheep Vineyard is just one of 300 wineries in Ohio, Black said.

Grape growing and winemaking has become so popular, the Ohio Wine Producers Association promotes six wine trails that target all different parts of the state. And Ohio wine and wine grapes are a more than $1.3 billion business in the state, according to an economic impact report commissioned by the Ohio Grape Industries Committee.

“Midwest grapes bring a lot to wine,” Black said. “You don’t have to go to California for quality.”

What’s more, the small vineyards create an opportunity for regular visits — a benefit for curator and consumer alike Black said.

“We really like meeting new people, and this is a popular place for people to come and enjoy themselves,” she said. “Over the years, we’ve made some really great friends.

“Wine people are just great people.”

And for anyone wondering, that research project that started it all?

“I got an A,” Black said.

Bounty of beauty and… Bigfoot

Easy days and laid-back nights also await visitors to Salt Fork State Park, the largest of Ohio’s state parks. 

Boating, hiking, archery, bridle trails, fishing and golfing are just some of the activities offered across the park’s 17,000-plus acres. There’s even been Bigfoot “sightings” for guests who are looking for a different kind of fun.

“I’ve never seen him, but he’s supposed to be out there,” said Brenynn Mowery, who helps manage Salt Fork Lodge, one of the largest of what’s known as the Great Ohio Lodges.

Guests can rent rooms in the main lodge, or choose individual cabins and even campsites for their stay.

“The cabins are secluded so you have your own entrance and exit,” Mowery said, with chalet cabins featuring gas fireplaces and hot tubs — great places to relax after a day’s hike.

One of those trails will take visitors to historic Hosak’s Cave, designated as an easy to moderate route that, when the weather cooperates, features a small seasonal waterfall.

“You can’t go in the cave, but you can walk right up to the mouth of it,” Mowery said.

For park goers seeking history of a different kind, there’s the Kennedy Stone House, which dates to pre-Civil War Ohio.

Built by Irish masonry workers for Benjamin Kennedy and his bride Margaret Ott, the home that features a summer kitchen, herb garden and root cellar, stayed in the Kennedy family until 1966 when the home and surrounding acreage became the centerpiece of the park.

 “At the end of the day, our guests can come back to the lodge, sit out on their private balconies and take in the view,” Mowery said. “It has a really great feel.”



Beaver Creek Kayak Company
16870 Clearview Drive
East Liverpool, Ohio 43920

Of note: Prices vary. A two-person, four-mile route including transport is $75.

Black Sheep Vineyard
1454 US Route 250
Aden, Ohio 43901

Of note: The winery is only open on Fridays and Saturdays so plan accordingly.

Salt Fork Lodge and Conference Center
14755 Cadiz Road
Lore City, Ohio 43755

Of note: Room rates vary, cabins come with kitchen basics, bedding and bath basics and a charcoal grill.

Salt Fork State Park
14755 Cadiz Road
Lore City, Ohio 43755
(740) 432-1508

Of note: Ohio does not charge a general admission to access its parks.