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Kentucky River - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip

Report Type: Day Trip Report
Trip Dates: October 3, 2007
Nearest City: Irvine, KY
Difficulty: Easy
Submitted by: kayaktrek


Kentucky River: Riverview Restaurant Ramp to Dam 11

Itís officially do-able! I knew it would be difficult, but I found out that it is possible to do 34 miles in one day on this river. Youíre entire upper body will feel like jell-o and youíll be completely exhausted - but it is possible. I started at a quarter till 7AM and didnít get back till 7PM. I also had to wake up at 4:30 to get ready and get there by this time. Iíve heard that farmers wake up at this hour all the time, but Iím sure not accustomed to it!

It was still dark when I started off. Itís very peaceful to begin at this time of day so although I couldnít see much it was still enjoyable. As you start downriver from this ramp thereís a marina right there. Itís the first marina Iíve come to on this trip and there were about 10 to 15 boats there. Iíve been seeing a lot of remnant columns from old bridge piers and about 1/2 mile down I came to some more. These metal structures look to have been dated around the same period because they look very similar in construction. Iíve encountered them before near mile 236 and mile 249.

The water level on the incoming creeks seems to be getting better the farther down I come. White Oak Creek came in after mile 217 as did a road bridge that must be fairly new because itís not on my charts. Thereís farmland on both sides in here and I heard what sounded like thousands of birds in the trees on the right bank. These eventually began to fly overhead in a southbound direction. Guess itís that time of year although the weather certainly doesnít feel like it. Itís supposed to be in the 80ís again today.

This is a fairly straight stretch and up ahead I was seeing some very interesting structures. They look to me to be grain elevators. Once I got closer to mile 215 I could see them better. The town of Calloway Crossing is here on the right bank as is Cubbard Rock. This is an interesting rock outcrop above which are the grain elevators. The charts indicate that intakes for the South East Coal company are here. Can I assume that the grain elevators are part of this company? Iím not sure.

As the river launched into a curve here I began to get very sleepy. Iím thinking: "Yeah, this is just great! My longest trip yet and Iím tired already!" I guess its 'cause Iím not used to waking up this early. My body must be thinking it needs more sleep, but I canít give in to that. If I took a nap I wouldnít be able to get this done. If I can get it done then the rest of this Kentucky River voyage will be easier by comparison.

Mile 215 to 212 is a long slow curve and Calloway Creek (7-8 feet wide) comes in at mile 213. Thereís a really cool old wooden bridge too across another little (unnamed) creek on the right bank after this. On the left bank at the bend in mile 212 I saw some more wild turkeys in a nice spot where farmland had begun to give way to a more hilly section.

The river between mile 212 and 207 is very nearly heart shaped. Richardson Bend and Shaving Machine Bend form the curves at the top. Polecat Creek (foot wide) comes in after mile 211. A favorite band of mine called the Magnolias had a song by that name and I wondered if I still had that cd in the car. How appropriate would that be to listen to it in the car ride on the way back! I think their song must have been about a creek of the same name in Minnesota though since thatís where theyíre from I believe.

Thereís a house at the top of Shaving Machine Bend by the way that sits in an awesome spot for river views. I see my first cows of the day on the right bank just before this. Apparently cows never got the word that itís impolite to stare! I get a lot of that. The funniest is when they stop in mid-chew to stare at you. They just stand there with grass hanging out of both sides of their mouth! Is this the equivalent of cow gaping? I donít think cows gapeÖ At least Iíve never seen itÖ

Possum Run has about 8-10 feet of water after mile 207. Blue Lick Branch at mile 206 has about 6-8 Iíd say. At mile 205 is Drowning Creek which is a fairly large creek which is on par with some of the others like Sturgeon and Cow Creeks before. I was in for a surprise when I came up on it. Lo and behold! Thereís a boat ramp! Itís in a somewhat crumbled state, but I could have used it to break up this trip more efficiently had I known about it. There was a family fishing there and they told me that it was public and was operated by the county (Madison in this case). They also informed me that it was right down the street from Bybee Pottery. Iíll be checking this out on another trip.
[For anyone wanting to paddle this pool as I have, I would suggest going from Riverview Restaurant up to dam 12 and then down to Richardson Bend and back. The rest could be done another day from this ramp. You could paddle up to Richardson Bend and then down to dam 11 and back. Just a suggestion. This would amount to 22 miles one day and 18 the next.]

After this there are signs on both sides that warn you not to dredge or anchor due a gas line running under the river. Falling Rock Branch, Little Polecat Creek and Flint Creek are very low. Maybe I spoke too soon before about the water levels getting better. Just after mile 202 was the Richmond Municipal intake. They were doing some construction here as it appears theyíre trying to prevent erosion.

There was more exposed rock as I made the next turn. Very scenic! The dam was right down from that. This was very scenic as well. This dam actually has steps going up the side of it and would be the easiest portage yet! Again though, the underbrush hasnít been cut back so itís a little overgrown. Nonetheless, it appears to be the most kayak friendly dam yet. Iíll have to see what itís like from the other direction though. Iíll do that soon.

I had been thinking that if I could make this dam by 1PM I could possibly be back before nightfall if I could manage the same pace. Turns out I got to the dam at 12:58! My luck in the past has been similar in this fashion so my appropriation of time seems to be pretty accurate. Strange. Anyway, I did make it back before night fell and I was able to get in pictures of some of the things I missed in the dark when I started out. Dinner at the Riverside Restaurant was a pleasant one today as well.

I also should note that on my way back I began encountering very large schools of minnows. Iíve seen larger schools farther downriver on other trips, but these are about the first Iíve seen this far up the river. This river is literally teeming with what must be billions of these minnows! Millions doesnít cover it. There have to be billions. Youíll know theyíre there when you see a shimmering on the top of the water. Get closer, stop paddling, and youíll hear a Ďsplishingí sound all around you Ė theyíre jumping around! Closer yet, and youíll see them. When scared youíll hear a Ďsplooshí and theyíll dart away from your boat Ė not willy-nilly as individuals, but as one fish! Total coordination! The first time I saw these I thought I was looking at a tire under the water. It was a school of minnows packed so tightly that they looked like a tire. If these minnows are a sign of river health (hopefully) then weíve got a good one here!

I plan to take an extra recuperation day on Friday but will begin my trip anew on Monday. I donít want to do too much too quickly and get burnt out on this river. Thereís so much more to see and Iíve got a long way to go. Monday will begin a 2 day stretch between dam 11 and 10.




$2 parking fee unless you dine at the restaurant.


KY 52 to KY 89. Thereís a bridge at this intersection. The put in is on the Southeast side of this bridge. Youíll see a road going down the side of it. This will lead you straight to the ramp.


"A Canoeing and Kayaking Guide to Kentucky" (general info)
Kentucky River Authority Navigation Charts (specifics)

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