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Kentucky River in Kentucky

Trip Overview

Kentucky River: Riverview Restaurant Ramp to Dam 11

Its 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. Youre entire upper body will feel like jell-o and youll be completely exhausted - but it is possible. I started at a quarter till 7AM and didnt get back till 7PM. I also had to wake up at 4:30 to get ready and get there by this time. Ive heard that farmers wake up at this hour all the time, but Im sure not accustomed to it!

It was still dark when I started off. Its very peaceful to begin at this time of day so although I couldnt see much it was still enjoyable. As you start downriver from this ramp theres a marina right there. Its the first marina Ive come to on this trip and there were about 10 to 15 boats there. Ive 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. Ive 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 its not on my charts. Theres 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 its that time of year although the weather certainly doesnt feel like it. Its supposed to be in the 80s 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? Im not sure.

As the river launched into a curve here I began to get very sleepy. Im thinking: "Yeah, this is just great! My longest trip yet and Im tired already!" I guess its 'cause Im not used to waking up this early. My body must be thinking it needs more sleep, but I cant give in to that. If I took a nap I wouldnt 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. Theres 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 thats where theyre from I believe.

Theres 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 its 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 dont think cows gape At least Ive never seen it

Possum Run has about 8-10 feet of water after mile 207. Blue Lick Branch at mile 206 has about 6-8 Id 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! Theres a boat ramp! Its 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. Ill 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 theyre 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 hasnt been cut back so its a little overgrown. Nonetheless, it appears to be the most kayak friendly dam yet. Ill have to see what its like from the other direction though. Ill 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. Ive seen larger schools farther downriver on other trips, but these are about the first Ive seen this far up the river. This river is literally teeming with what must be billions of these minnows! Millions doesnt cover it. There have to be billions. Youll know theyre there when you see a shimmering on the top of the water. Get closer, stop paddling, and youll hear a splishing sound all around you theyre jumping around! Closer yet, and youll see them. When scared youll hear a sploosh and theyll dart away from your boat 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 weve got a good one here!

I plan to take an extra recuperation day on Friday but will begin my trip anew on Monday. I dont want to do too much too quickly and get burnt out on this river. Theres so much more to see and Ive 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. Theres a bridge at this intersection. The put in is on the Southeast side of this bridge. Youll 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)
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip