A Canoeing and Kayaking Guide to Kentucky  by Bob Sehlinger & Johnny Molloy

A Canoeing & Kayaking Guide to Kentucky Guide Book

by Bob Sehlinger & Johnny Molloy (Menasha Ridge Press)
A Canoeing and Kayaking Guide to Kentucky  by Bob Sehlinger & Johnny Molloy
Wet your paddle and whet your paddling appetite with the authority on paddling the waterways of Kentucky. From the coalfields of eastern Kentucky to Kentucky's western border along the Mighty Mississippi, this redesigned and completely updated guide to paddling the creeks, rivers, and coastal waterways of the Bluegrass State covers thousands of miles of paddling, which ranges in difficulty from scenic floats down the Green to whitewater runs on the Russell Fork. New maps, new river profiles, new at-a-glance data, shuttle, and gauge and updated contact information make this book an indispensable aid to enjoying Kentucky's waterways.

© 2004 Bob Sehlinger and Johnny Molloy/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "A Canoeing & Kayaking Guide to Kentucky" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 77.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 77.

Located in Ballard County in the far northwestern corner of the state along the Ohio River, the Ballard Wildlife Management Area (BWMA) is easily one of the most unusual water resources in the state of Kentucky. Consisting of more than 15 oxbow lakes and cypress bogs, the refuge-hunting area is home to countless deer, beaver, waterfowl, songbirds, and reptiles.
Bandana, KY - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing
The Barren River is one of Kentucky’s big rivers. Originating in southern Monroe and Allen Counties near the Tennessee border southeast of Bowling Green, it makes up the main drainage system for a large, four-county area and finally empties into the Green River southeast of Morgantown. It could be very effectively argued that Kentucky’s longest and largest river should indeed be the Barren and not the Green. At their confluence, the Barren is easily the larger of the two rivers. Below Barren River Dam the river can be run all year, with easy access at several points. Deadfalls and occasional sandbars at low water are the only hazards to navigation.
Meador, KY - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 92.1
The Bayou du Chien is a diminutive, willow-and cypress-canopied stream that flows west out of Graves County, draining southern Hickman and northern Fulton Counties before emptying into the Mississippi River. Although artificially channeled (dredged) at one time, nature has fought back over the years to reoccupy the banks with vegetation. The result is a beautiful, almost primeval little bayou that has a generally unobstructed, navigable channel.
Clinton, KY - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 11.5
Beech Fork originates in eastern Marion County, flows northwest into Washington County, where it joins the Chaplin River, and then turns southwest through Nelson County before finally emptying into the Rolling Fork of the Salt River near Boston, Kentucky.
Raywick, KY - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 32.24
Benson Creek flows northeast out of Anderson County, through Franklin County to the Kentucky River at Frankfort. Runnable above the confluence of the forks after heavy rains and below the confluence from late fall through the spring, Benson Creek offers a variety of surprises. The waterway is often floated by locals when the water is up, generally November to mid-May following heavy rains.
Frankfort, KY - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 4.5
Flowing out of Scott County (TN), the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River flows north through McCreary County (KY) before emptying into Lake Cumberland. One of the most popular canoe camping runs in the southeastern United States, the Big South Fork winds through the wooded bluffs and ridges of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (BSFNRRA). An exceptionally beautiful river flowing swiftly below stately exposed rock pinnacles, the Big South Fork is dotted with huge boulders midstream and along the banks and padded along either side by steep hillsides of hardwoods and evergreens. Wildflowers brighten the vista in the spring, and wildlife is plentiful.
Whitley City, KY - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 42.6
The Big South Fork Gorge is part of the headwaters of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. Although situated entirely in Tennessee, it is worth including in this guide because it is a very popular whitewater run enjoyed by advanced Kentucky paddlers. Consisting of almost continuous Class III (and IV?) whitewater, the run begins on the Clear Fork (which combines with New River of Tennessee to form the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River) about 12 miles southwest of Oneida and ends at Leatherwood Ford, west of Oneida.
New Haven, TN - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 10.6
Boone Creek is a small, intense stream flowing over a rock bed along the eastern border of Fayette County. Runnable only 10 or 12 days a year, it just may be the most singularly beautiful run in the entire state. The upper section (above the Iroquois Hunt Club) snakes over ledges between 20-foot-high rock walls. Passing the hunt club, Boone Creek’s gradient increases as it descends into a narrow, vertical-walled rock gorge that funnels the stream at furious speed toward its mouth at the Kentucky River. Frequently, the constricting gorge walls recede, permitting trees to grow along the water’s edge. At higher water levels these trees create the only eddies on the run. Feeder streams join Boone Creek at several points below the hunt club. Two of these enter the creek after dropping over large waterfalls that are easily visible from Boone Creek. During the spring, wildflowers, particularly bluebells, further enhance the beauty of the stream.
Athens, KY - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 6.3
Buck Creek is a small, scenic, Class II whitewater stream that drains the eastern half of Pulaski County. Several small caves along the run provide the opportunity for interesting side trips. Runnable from KY 1677 to KY 192 following periods of heavy rain, Buck Creek winds through forested hillsides with some exposed rock visible, especially in the lower sections below KY 80.
Somerset, KY - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 34
This creek is also referred to—erroneously—as Galloway Creek. Calloway Creek plunges into the Kentucky River near the I-75 bridge south of Lexington. Runnable below the confluence of Smith Fork, this creek was first descended by local Kentucky paddlers in 2002. Calloway Creek ranks as one of the most scenic and intense whitewater streams in the Bluegrass State.
Lexington, KY - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 2.5
The Clarks River drains Marshall, Graves, and McCracken Counties southeast of Paducah. Except for the three or four miles near Paducah, upstream of its mouth at the Tennessee River, the Clarks River is beautiful and engaging. Wildlife abounds, particularly beaver, raccoon, deer, and (during the fall) duck.
Paducah, KY - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 16
After passing through the Wolf Creek Dam in Russell County, the Cumberland River turns south through Cumberland and Monroe Counties before crossing once more into Tennessee. This tailwater was created in 1952 with the completion of Wolf Creek Dam. Interestingly, the water discharging from the dam averages 52F. Compared with other Kentucky rivers of similar size, it is remarkably free of powerboat traffic.
Burkesville, KY - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 77.4
This section of the Cumberland River flows northwest from the tailwaters of Barkley Dam through Livingston County to the Ohio River. Pleasant but decidedly unspectacular, the Cumberland River makes long, graceful curves through the hilly farmland east of Paducah.
Smithland, KY - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 25
The Dix River originates in Rockcastle County and flows northwest through Lincoln County before being impounded to form Herrington Lake along the Garrard–Boyle County line. From the Dix River Dam, the river flows a short 2 miles before emptying into the Kentucky River.
Stanford, KY - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 31.3
Drakes Creek, along with its three feeder forks, comprises the drainage system for the area directly south of Bowling Green between US 31W on the west and US 231 on the east. Originating near the Tennessee border in Simpson and Allen Counties, Drakes Creek finally empties into the Barren River just outside Bowling Green. Running through deep, rolling farmland and wooded terrain, nearly the entire system provides excellent paddling opportunities. The West Fork and the Trammel Fork are suitable for canoeing, as is Drakes Creek itself below the confluence of the forks. The width of the stream varies from 30 to 45 feet on the forks to 90 feet below the confluence. Deadfalls are not uncommon on the forks but usually do not block the entire stream. Access is excellent with an unusually high number of paved county roads interlacing the entire area.
Bowling Green, KY - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 35.3
Eagle Creek originates in Scott County and flows northwest over a mud and rock bottom through Owen, Grant, Carroll, and Gallatin Counties before emptying into the Kentucky River near Worthville.
Sparta, KY - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 41.1
Beginning as a narrow, intimate class II stream, the East Prong of the Otter soon joins up with a small tributary just upstream of the bridge at East Prong Road. From this point, the creek then rushes swiftly through several significant Class III drops (IVs at high water) to the confluence at the Main Stem of the Otter. With a drainage area of only 15 miles, the East Prong of the Otter comes up and down very fast. Due to its relatively short length, it is usually run in tandem with the Main Stem of Otter Creek past the KY 388 (Red House Road) bridge, offering an additional two to three miles of Class II–III whitewater. Note that there is another Otter Creek in Meade County that flows directly into the Ohio River.
Red House, KY - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing
Elkhorn Creek, with its North and South Forks, flows northwest, draining portions of Jessamine, Fayette, Scott, Woodford, and Franklin Counties before emptying into the Kentucky River north of Frankfort. Because of its mild whitewater, beautiful scenery, plentiful access, and proximity to four major urban areas, the Elkhorn is Kentucky’s most popular canoeing stream. Running through a deep gorge with exposed rock walls (some- gradient 9.5 (fpm) times reaching 200 feet in height), the rapids, riffles, and ledges are almost continuous. In all, there are four legitimate Class III rapids on this run with perhaps six additional high Class I or borderline Class IIs. Several islands punctuate the stream.
Frankfort, KY - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 17
A main tributary of the Salt River, Floyds Fork flows southwest along the Oldham–Shelby County line, across western Jefferson County, and into Bullitt County, where it joins the Salt River near Shepherdsville. Access is good, especially in Jefferson and Shelby Counties, where the banks are not particularly steep.
Shepherdsville, KY - Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 34.3
This is one of the first creeks to look for when the other whitewater creeks in the Clark/Madison County area are also running high. However, rains can be highly localized. The entire run is scoutable from the road and at moderate levels offers whitewater consisting of a very playful set of diagonal holes for the novice-intermediate boater. At higher levels this fast runoff stream contains numerous Class III hydraulics that will provide strong playboaters added fun and novices, increased trepidation.
Winchester, KY - Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing - Trail Length: 5