Pleasant Hill Lake Park hosts opening of horse riding trail in Mohican Region

June 29, 2014

A horse riding trail system that connects several popular attractions in Mohican Country in Ashland and Richland counties is now open.

Officials held a grand opening celebration Saturday afternoon (June 28) at Pleasant Hill Lake Park near Perrysville to open the section of trail in the park that connects the park, Mohican Memorial State Forest, Mohican State Park and Malabar Farm State Park.

“This has been 10 years in the making, and sometimes it may have been frustrating, but it is great to see what we have done and that it is now open,” said Mike Gerard of the Ohio Horseman’s Council (OHC) prior to the official ribbon-cutting at a trailhead located inside Pleasant Hill Lake Park. “I’m so happy to see this project reach this point and so glad that so many people were dedicated to connecting these beautiful locations through a trail that riders will enjoy for many years to come.”

Gerard helped lead the effort to develop the various bridle trails and to include Pleasant Hill Lake Park as part of the network of biking, hiking and horse riding trails, as well as camping and hunting areas in the region. A custom built overnight campgrounds featuring appropriate-sized campsites and other amenities for horse riding enthusiasts also has been open inside Pleasant Hill Lake Park for a couple of years and offers riders easy access to the trail system.

About 100 people attended the grand opening event, and many then headed off on horseback to explore the trail.

“It was through the determination of people like Mike and all of the volunteers who have given so much time, knowledge and expertise that this trail is now open,” said Bill Martin, park manager at Pleasant Hill Lake Park. “I want to thank all of you for being our partners in helping your vision for this trail become a reality.”

Martin also announced that signs will be installed later at the trailhead inside Pleasant Hill Lake Park to recognize the partners, including personal recognition for Gerard.

The OHC signed an agreement several years ago with the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD), which owns and operates Pleasant Hill Lake Park, to develop the horse riding trail system on MWCD property. OHC volunteers, other interested volunteers and officials from Mohican Memorial State Forest, Mohican State Park and Malabar Farm State Park held regular meetings to develop the system across all of the partnering properties.

“It took a lot of dedicated people to give significant amounts of time and to come together in a collaborative strategy to make this happen with so much success,” said Louis Andres, a park specialist at Pleasant Hill Lake Park who retired after many years as the manager of Malabar Farm State Park and has been a part of the entire trail development. “I applaud not only the individuals who were part of this trail coming to life, but also the attractions for recognizing what could be built from key partnerships.”

The system also includes numerous multiple-use and specialty trails for hikers and bikers, along with hunting areas. Details and maps are available at the locations of participating partners.

“We have a true gem here and it won’t be long before the word will be out about this trail system and how popular it will become,” Gerard said. “This is just an incredible setting with so many interesting features and nice locations for riders to visit.”

The MWCD, a political subdivision of the state, was organized in 1933 to develop and implement a plan to reduce flooding and conserve water for beneficial public uses in the Muskingum River Watershed, the largest wholly contained watershed in Ohio. Since their construction, the 16 reservoirs and dams in the MWCD region have been credited for saving an estimated $11.1 billion worth of potential property damage from flooding, according to the federal government, as well as providing popular recreational opportunities that bolster the region’s economy. A significant portion of the reservoirs are managed by the MWCD and the dams are managed for flood-risk management by the federal U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

For more information about the MWCD, visit www.mwcd.org and follow the MWCD on Facebook and Twitter.

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