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Rockcastle River in Kentucky

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

My son Jimmy (age 13) and myself just completed one of the most scenic canoe trips we have ever taken. We floated the extreme lower section of the Rockcastle River. This part of the Rockcastle River is flat water when Lake Cumberland is at summer pool stage. We canoed from Bee Rock Campground in the Daniel Boone National Forest to London Boat Dock at Lake Cumberland. We, along with my wife Alice and daughter Autumn (15), had camped the night before at the campground. We had scaled the trip off on a topo map at 7.7 miles. My wife was to pick us up at London dock in 8 hours. The plan was to travel exactly 1 mile per hour. When we would get to each mile marker on the topo we would fish or swim until the end of the hour. This plan worked perfectly. This part of the river/lake is deep within the Daniel Boone National Forest. Once you leave the campground there is no civilization, other than an occasional fishing boat, until you get to the dock. No roads, cars, or buildings. Fishing was slow during the first part of the trip. We did find one small, secluded cove where we caught several nice sized bluegills on night crawlers. Bass were jumping everywhere but we had no luck with them.

One of the most enjoyable parts of our trip was when we took a side trip up Rock Branch. At the upper end of the cove there is a small rock island. After swimming and jumping off the rock for several minutes I decided to try my luck with the bass one more time. We were using minnows, or "minners" as we call them in Eastern Kentucky. My first cast I caught a large channel cat.

During the last two miles of the trip the sky turned black and we could hear thunder in the distance. We were prepared to go to shore and put up an emergency shelter or wait the storm out under one of the many rock overhangs. However, the storm never caught up with us.

At the end of the trip Jimmy offered to teach me how two people can climb into a canoe in open water without swamping the canoe. He had learned this maneuver while earning the Canoeing Merit Badge with Boy Scout Troop 572 in London, Kentucky. The maneuver worked great. Hardly a drop of water got in our Old Town Camper. He also wanted to teach me how we could paddle a swamped canoe. After emptying and swamping the canoe. We tried this maneuver several times. We didn't have nearly as much luck and ended up swimming the canoe to shore.

Alice and Autumn pulled into the parking lot just as we were taking the canoe out of the water. We returned to Bee Rock for a steak dinner around the campfire.

All in all this was a great day. I would recommend this trip to anyone seeking a lazy scenic trip down a secluded river/lake.


Bee Rock Campground- water, pit toilets, no electricity. Only $5. Rockcastle campground at the lower end.


From exit 38 on I75 at London go west on KY HWY 192 for 20 miles. This drive is in the National Forest and is very scenic.


I recommend taking a laminated topo map. See If you don't take a map you may take a wrong turn a Pole Bridge Branch.

Trip Details

  • Trip Duration: Day Trip
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Trip Location