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Buck Creek in Kentucky

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

Buck Creek is one of those streams my wife Alice and I have been wanting to paddle for some time. According to "Canoeing and Kayaking in Kentucky", Buck Creek is best paddled when the Rockcastle is running high or flooding. The Rockcastle was running 550 cfs which is moderate. There is no gauge on Buck Creek. At this level the bottom of our kayaks hit rocks in a few places. There was no place that we had to get out and pull.

Our equipment consisted of a Dagger Crossfire kayak and a Noah AeroQuatic kayak. Alice used a touring sprayskirt while I opted for a white water skirt.

We put in on the west side of "old 80" bridge, near the community of Stab. You can park along the grass shoulder near the bridge. The trail down from the road to the creek is steep and slick in places.

From the moment we put in, Buck Creek was beautiful and lots of fun. The temperatures were in the low 60s with a steady sprinkle of rain. This 10-12 mile section of Buck Creek is characterized by lots of class I+ and a few class II rapids. The rapids are very close together the entire trip. This was a nice alternative to the stream we usually paddle, the upper Rockcastle, which has long pools of nearly standing water between the rapids and riffles. The only real hazzards on Buck Creek are the potential for "strainers.

We were both thrilled to get a good look at an otter. When he saw us the otter scrambled down the banks and into the creek. For several hundred feet the otter would swim under water in front of our kayaks, occasionally popping his head out of the water to get a look at us. This was the first otter Alice and I had ever seen in Kentucky. We also saw a lot of birds including great blue herons, green herons, several species of ducks, and lots of little song birds.

The banks of Buck Creek is lined with large vertical cliffs along one or both sides much of the way. The creek is feed by numerous fast flowing springs all along the banks.

The only people we saw during the trip were two fishermen who were floating the creek in an inflatable raft. The two fellows said Buck Creek was usually a good smallmouth stream and is always a good redeye stream.

The takeout is at KY HWY. 192. There is a 4-wheel drive road on the east side of the bridge. The climb from the river to the highway is maybe a 1/4 mile but not too steep. The 10-12 mile trip can be shortened significantly by putting in or taking out at the 1003 bridge.

Side note: Before putting in you may want to take the 1/4 mile drive to Short Creek. Short Creek is about 60 feet wide and only about 70 feet long. Short Creek flows out of a Cave and about 70 feet later flows into another cave.
Also: Look at the USGS steam gauge on the Rockcastle River at Billows. Buck Creek should be good if the Rockcastle is above 500 CFS.


Several motels in Somerset or London.


No fees required.


Between Somerset and London on KY 80. Look for a sign for the community of Stab just east of Shopville School.


Book: "Canoeing and Kayaking in Kentucky"

Trip Details

  • Trip Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Trip Location