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Kentucky River in Kentucky

Trip Overview

Kentucky River: Dam 13 to Old Landing Boat Ramp

Today turned out to be a real trial! Im even re-composing this entire thing because I accidentally deleted it right after I typed it! I woke up late and had to get ready a little faster than I wanted to. This probably was why I left my snack for the car ride on top of the car like a real bonehead! It surely fell off as soon as I pulled out with the car.

Getting to the dam 13 boat ramp was a nightmare. I wont rely solely on online directions again. They can simply be too ambiguous. Ill draw up my own directions from a good map. This ambiguity was coupled with the fact that there are no street signs when you get anywhere near dam 13. There are posts but no signs so youre left to guess which way to go. Of course I guessed wrong. Bottom line is that what should have been a 1 hour drive became a more than 5 hour one! I didnt start until 3!

At times like this you can give in to a seething anger which will surely poison your entire day or you can persevere and even laugh at misfortune. I know I have these kinds of days sometimes and theyre always followed by better ones so I chose the latter. Given my late start I would have to paddle in the dark a bit but this would allow me to test my skills and my headlamp. Ive only ever used my headlamp for caving. This will be interesting. Anyway, I hope that if anyone reads this they will follow the directions below. Its actually pretty easy to find this put in if you come from the opposite direction that I did. I drove back this way and did get back to Lexington in an hour and a half.

Upon hitting the water I paddled upstream to dam 13 which effectively adjoins the boat ramp or vice versa. From this side there is a ladder so this would be a much easier portage than dam 14. If you didnt want to use the ladder you could easily walk down the bank from this side or even go down to the boat ramp.

Again I wish they had campgrounds at these dams. This would make a perfect stop-over for someone wanting to go the distance on this river. It is 15-16 miles from Mother Goose Ramp in Beattyville upstream and downstream 17 miles is the American Legion boat ramp. 2 miles farther than that and youre at dam 12. Perfect!

Anyway, I started paddling downstream and, coming up to about mile 239 I noticed an interesting rock outcrop at the top of a mountain. Jutting out above the tree line at the very top of this mountain is what the navigation charts call (and aptly so) Pinnacle Rock. This really sticks out at you as youre paddling and its really neat!

At this point the river starts a real slow curve to the left which extends for about 2 miles. By the way, the train track is still with me throughout this section as well. It follows very closely to the meanders of the river here. In 5 hours this time I saw 2 trains.

As I got to the community of Evelyn between mile 236 and 237 there were some old metal columns rising up on each side which were apparently from an old bridge pier. Cows graze around them now. One house was visible to me in Evelyn on the right bank and on the left side the Ross Creek enters the river.

Upon rounding a tight bend I was finally able to shoot some wild turkeys. With my camera of course! This time they were out in the middle of an open field on the right. They couldnt escape me fast enough this time. I finally got my shot of wild turkey! Sorry, I had to do that! There are just so many ways to have fun with wordplay about turkeys! Anyhoo

I came upon the longest straightaway Ive had yet after this turn. Its almost 2 miles long. There are some houses in here on the left which must have fantastic views. Nice location! I even saw some other kayaks on the bank at one of the houses. These are the first kayaks Ive seen but so far no kayakers. Incidentally, I would only see one powerboat on this leg of the trip. Very remote.

At mile 233 there starts a very long 3 mile bend in the river. I wouldnt be going this far though. Old Landing would be my stopping point today between mile 232 and 231. Old Landing boat ramp is not on the navigation charts but looks like a decent (although crumbling) ramp. From the water there is an old stone structure to the right of the ramp which is mostly still standing. Im intrigued by this and wonder what it used to be. Maybe on Friday Ill see if I can ask someone.

My return trip turned out to be an eventful one. The wind picked up, I began to see lightning in the distance and it started to get dark. My headlamp worked out just fine although I didnt have to use it till I got back to the boat ramp the moonlight worked out just fine. Once at the boat ramp, I did what I usually do. I pulled out my backpack and began loading it up with all the stuff from the boat so it would be easier to pack up the car once I got out of the boat. As I was doing this I heard a loud and agitated MRRRR! Cow or bull I couldnt tell, but it was from the other bank so it wouldnt be a problem.

I get the MRRRR again and realize that its not on the other bank. Its on mine! I turned on my headlamp to look. Not 50 yards away from where I would be getting out was what looked like the vague shape of a white cow or bull. This with the typical eye glow you get when you flash a light and hit a pair of eyes in the dark. Very eerie! I usually take my gear up in 2 trips. This time I got it all up in one boat and all with my can of Halt! at the ready! Dont know how well Halt! would actually work on a charging bull though! I was OK however. It must have been a cow I guess. I really need a lesson in cow-ology 101 to better understand bovine behavior. I see a lot of them both kayaking and hiking.

Getting the boat latched back up to the top of the car turned out to be easier than I thought in the dark thanks to the headlamp and I got out with relative ease. As I stated before, the drive back was also a lot better than the drive there even though I was very wary of stray dogs on the way back in the dark. On Friday I plan to do the second leg of the paddle between dam 13 and 12 when Ill start at Old Landing.






KY 52 to KY 89 South to KY 851 South. Follow 851 all the way to the boat ramp and dam. Itll eventually turn into a dirt/gravel road. Youll veer left at the only intersection after this point. Not much further youll see a gravel lot on your left and thats where the boat ramp is.


"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