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Elkhorn Creek in Kentucky

Trip Overview

Always wanted to try the white water section of Elkhorn Creek, so Saturday morning I pulled out with the Probe 12 to do just that. The gauge was showing 3.5 feet with 600cfs. It can be run up to 5 feet, but much above this level and it gets to be a dangerous portage around the distillery dam. This is a very good level to run this section. The Canoeing and Kayaking guide to Kentucky rates this section class II and class III rapids. Don't let the word "creek" fool you, this is a 35-90 foot wide body of water with some great whitewater.

Put in is the bridge at the forks of the Elkhorn on U.S. 460 just a couple of miles east of Frankfort. There is the Elkhorn Campground there and if you park at the bridge, there is a 3 dollar fee to the campground. Just a short while from put in is a mandatory portage on the left bank at a small dam at the Jim Beam distillery. Pull right up to the concrete barier on the left side of dam and put back in just a few yards below dam to catch a very nice rapid below this dam. DO NOT try to run this dam as it can be a KEEPER! After that is 3 hours of pretty constant rapids and riffles. One is called the Church wave, one is called the S- Curve. Three or 4 hug right against high cliffs with beautiful scenery.

The rapids are rough enough to be fun, but not bad enough to be scary. If you do dump, it is mostly a smooth bottom and an easy swim. Take out is just past the bridge at the American Whitewater takeout parking lot on Peaks Mill Road US 1900 . This is about a 5 hour, 7 mile trip.

Accommodations:

Campground at put in

Lots of motels and eating places just minutes away.

Fees:

3 dollar put in parking fee paid to the Elkhorn Campground Office.

Directions:

Exit off of Interstate 64 to Frankfort Kentucky. Go east on US 460 a couple of miles to the Forks of The Elkhorn.

Resources:

"A Canoeing and Kayaking Guide to Kentucky"

Kentucky atlas and Gazetteer

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Advanced
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II), Whitewater (Class III+)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip