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Kentucky River (North Fork) in Kentucky

Trip Overview

They say getting there is half the fun. I dont know about half, but it can be fun if you clear your mind and take the time to enjoy the experience. With all the scenery in Kentucky, this is definitely true here! The leaves are just beginning to change color too.

When I got to the ramp in Beattyville it appeared that mother goose had flown the coop! Didnt see her. I had just gotten all my stuff in the boat and was getting in when I slipped on some algae at the end of the ramp and fell about waist deep in the drink! I was lucky my kayak didnt turn over and dump my stuff in. I need to be more careful.

About 100 yards upstream I heard the honk of my friend the goose. I had kinda gotten used to seeing her so it was like seeing and old friend! The first 4 miles or so of this trip were a repeat of Wednesdays because I needed to cover the converged Middle/North Forks before I could get to just the North Fork itself. I kept trying to get pictures of the herons at this stage, but they proved to be too elusive. These are fantastic birds! The way they take off and land is incredible so graceful for such an awkward looking bird. They seem to me to be as close as we get to modern day pterodactyls!

Once on the North Fork (about mile 4 on the navigation charts) you come into a curve in the river which becomes about a 2 mile straightaway. For the first time I can recall there were hills on both sides without farmland. This straightaway was very peaceful and I was thinking that this area must be pretty remote. I took my camera out of my drybox, took a picture, and was replacing the latches on the drybox. K-LACK LACK Lack ack! The sound echoed so loudly in this serene environment that I was a bit embarrassed!

I paddled past Hell Creek which is about 3 feet wide now. Walker Creek was about the same. Just before Walker I came upon a stone structure which appeared to be a remnant of an old bridge. My navigation charts say this was the Old Bridge pier. Upon further examination I found that there were more of these structures that remained standing. Theres the one on the left bank and at least 2 that I could see on the right.

Upon rounding another bend the water started to get shallow maybe 2 feet deep. I passed under the Lee County Highway Bridge after this point. The town of Airedale was off on the left but I couldnt see it because I was so low on the water. Theres a boat ramp on the right side here after this bridge, but Im not sure if its public. It doesnt appear to be paved, but it must be the put in indicated in the Canoe and Kayak Guide to Kentucky. Nothing else appeared to come close to being a put in.

At about mile 7 there is another long straightaway and the water is more consistently about 2 feet deep here. I wasnt to get much farther. Log Shoal Branch was dried up and just after mile 8 was a dried up Laurel Branch and the end of the line for me today. Like Mondays trip on the South Fork, there was just no telling what the walk/paddle ratio was going to be further up.

Upon my return to the ramp I found that the goose was back. She and a duck friend fled when my boat approached and I did not see them after that. Somewhat more aggressive yesterday, she seems passive today. I guess geese are permitted to be moody too! This will be my last visit to mother goose ramp for this trip and I was kinda hoping to spot her one more time before I left, but as I looked back driving off I didnt see her. Maybe next time I visit the forks Ill see her again.

I had time to check out the put in for the next leg of my trip off the 399 Bridge over the Kentucky River across from Heidelberg, Kentucky. When you get down to the ramp its an absolutely beautiful spot! On the left you see water flowing over dam 14. Ahead of you is part of the Heidelberg community on a hill. Right of you the river flows on, while behind you Sturgeon Creek enters. Really nice! Im looking forward to Mondays stretch of the trip! I plan to circle the pool between lock and dam 14 and 13. Next Wednesday and Friday I plan to circle the pool between 13 and 12.

Accommodations:

None

Fees:

No

Directions:

KY 11 to Beattyville. Go East on East Main Street to Water Street (2nd street) and take a left. This street ends with a boat ramp.

Resources:

"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