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2008 Kentucky River Kayak Trek


Thursday, August 21, 2008


Dam 9 to Lower Hunters Bar at Sawmill Run (Mile 148)




Today was fun.  That’s because it was kind of a milestone day.  At this point I’d finally retraced all the miles I’d paddled last year and I was finally entering some new territory.  I’d done parts of the river below this point at 3 locations, but for the most part, I hadn’t paddled the bulk of it.  Today was all brand new.  I was psyched, and at this point I’d made up my mind:  my inability to finish the trip last October had led to a really bad year.  If I didn’t finish this year then I shuddered to think what would happen.  I’d finish the river even if I had to swim the rest!


I could have driven around and over on I75 to get to the put-in I selected, but I thought it would be nice to take the Valley View Ferry across the river instead, so I drove down Tate’s Creek and got on.  It’ll hold 3 cars on one crossing, and once aboard I mentioned to the guys the stories I’d read about their ferry.  They were kind enough to give me a pamphlet on the history of the boat and helped assist in confirming my directions to the put-in.


I was to go down about 10 miles once I got off the ferry and take a right on Goggins Lane.  Interestingly enough, the place at which I was to put in (the Poosey Ridge Fish and Wildlife Ramp) had originally been the site of the Goggins Ferry (a.k.a. Upper Hunter Ferry) across the river at mile 149.5. 


Anyway, the first part of the drive from the ferry was great.  I wouldn’t have a problem living in Valley View at all!  There are quite a few nice houses here and the location is great and historic. 


As far as Tate’s Creek Road, you can’t really tell how it got its name until you get to the Madison County (South) side of the river, because here the road runs right alongside this same creek for several miles.


Once taking the right on Goggins Road, you’ll take another one on Barnes Mill, and after going about 7 miles from this point the fantastic countryside will begin to wage a shock and awe campaign on you.  Acre’s of Land Winery ( and its restaurant are out here as is a greenhouse and a cattle company.  Goggins eventually runs into KY595 which you’ll take a right (north) on until it ends at a circle in a park-like setting.  This is where the boat ramp is.


I got my gear down and was heading back up the ramp when I saw a dog at the top.  Uh-oh…  What to expect here?  Since this was a park, I half-expected that the dog was probably used to people being around, but I got a handful of trail mix just in case…  No problem - it turned out to be a really cool dog. 


I’ll mention this Jessamine County Kentucky River Boating Guide again at this point.  Truly a great historical guide, it indicated that the father of Cassius Clay once operated a warehouse here until the early 1800’s.  I wasn’t sure which side of the river this was on though...  There’s a paved ramp on the other side too, by the way, which is not on the navigation charts, so it might be private.


I headed nearly straight upriver to dam 9, but I usually like to get the side streams in first if I can.  This is because the mouths of these streams are very popular with fishermen, and I don’t like to disturb them, so if the streams are open when I start I do take the time to go ahead and paddle them because by the time I return there might be someone there. 


I need to mention something else here that I haven’t mentioned before but I definitely should have.  Going under tree branches on any stream of water or even lake – no matter how large it is – is hazardous.  I don’t care if you’re power boating, paddling or even swimming.  You’ve simply got to be extremely wary of fishing lines.  I’ve seen them all over the place.  I don’t know if they get stuck in the trees and the fishermen just leave them there or what, but they can snag you. 


This hasn’t happened to me yet and I don’t mean to disgust the reader, but if one of these hooks snags you, you’re probably gonna get ripped up and you could even get an infection.  It needs to be said!  The whitewater guys (and gals) must have a real problem with this!  Please be very wary of these when you’re out there and always bring a first aid kit in case something happens. 


As I got up to Lock and dam 9 (which is 8 miles upriver from the ramp I used at mile 157.5) I technically began the trip.  As I’ve mentioned, this lock and dam has a lot of work being done to it, and they’re apparently reconstructing it with a totally new design.  It, in fact, looks like a string of large metal cylinders filled in with concrete. 


As mentioned in a previous entry, the lock used to be right onshore, but the 1905 flood essentially put it in the middle of the river and a new wall then had to be built to reach back to it.  I saw what could have been a house atop the bank, but I wasn’t sure if it was part of an old lock house or just something new, as I couldn’t get any closer.  I had called the Kentucky River Authority (they operate these lock and dams, to see if I could put in at this lock the day prior, but I’d been told that they keep it under real tight surveillance due to all the work being done.



A newspaper article some weeks back had mentioned that in the process of rebuilding here, they’d pulled up some old river logs from the river bottom that had brands on the ends.  Apparently from the sawmill era on the river in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, it was amazing to me to see how well the river had preserved them.  I’d have thought they’d be completely decomposed in over 100 years – that there’d simply be nothing left!


There’s a beach here on the downriver lock side, but you can’t really tell.  It’s underneath large rocks, debris and foliage which they could probably clear out to make a really nice beach (in fact, it may have been one at one time, I don’t know).  People from Lexington, Richmond and Nicholasville would all be able to reach it pretty easily and it could mean business for the Valley View area.  Then again, maybe they wouldn’t want that...  The area is pretty nice right now as it is. 


There are some rock cliffs here on the left with said beach on the right as I looked downriver, and these cliffs would continue on the left as I paddled down to mile 155, at which point they’d switch sides near the Devil’s Pulpit rock formation (which I’ll mention again in a minute). 


There’s also a paved boat ramp coming in at the sandbar near mile 157 (just below the dam) on the right, but again, it’s not on the charts so I think it’s probably private.  There are a few houses up the hill on this side too, and the boating guide mentions that at one time there was even a boatyard and a stone warehouse here. 


The river makes a right curve past this point, and the Cedar Point Run comes in on the left at mile 156.5.  I saw a fish I hadn’t seen before on the right here.  It looked like a gar but it was colored black, and I also spotted what I guessed were a couple large catfish on this trip.


A general note about the streams in this stretch:  there are, in fact, 12 of them; yet only one of these, the Silver Creek, was navigable on this day.  The Walden Run would soon come in on the left, but it was dry over a shoal.  Marble Creek would have been navigable, but it was pretty mucky with a lot of debris.  All of the others were dry over shoals.  In fact, Marble Creek at mile 156 had a submerged car right at the entrance which was about 80% under.  I could only see the back tires over the water. 


I really wish I could have paddled into this creek though, because one of the guys from Tuesday was telling me that there are some more RINEY-B railroad support remnants visible back there, and judging from a painting in the Boating Guide, these supports look to have stretched waaaay up the palisades – they’d really be something to see.  This will therefore be one of the first places I come back to at higher water.  Camp Daniel Boone used to be on the right here for the YMCA, but it apparently only operated until the 1970’s.


Anyway, after the old camp the rocky shorelines rise quickly and significantly on the left side here to form the tallest palisades I’d seen yet, and at a curve left at mile 155 these rock walls will switch to the right as the Devil’s Pulpit comes into view. 


Now, honestly… life must have looked pretty bleak indeed for people to have named such beautiful things such ghastly names!  So far I’ve paddled into one Hell Creek, curved around the Devil’s Backbone, rounded Bull Hell Cliff, gone under the Devil’s Meat House cave, and now I’ve reached the Devil’s Pulpit rock formation! 


With the vegetation I wasn’t totally sure, but I think it’s the first formation.  There are a few here.  I got the best picture of these looking back, so in the picture it’s the one furthest to the right (there’s a more definitive picture of this formation in the Boating Guide).  The pulpit is free standing and it was said to have been first noted by none other than Daniel Boone himself.



The Pulpits’ palisade continues on almost to mile 153, and at mile 154 there’s another incredible looking water intake for Nicholasville.  This one, in fact, rivals the Kentucky Water intake for Lexington (from the last pool) in shock value for me.  Whereas that one cut through a forested mountain, this one nearly comes right down the side of a palisade.  The part of it that’s down by the water also has a different structure than that of the Lexington intake.  (I couldn’t resist including a picture of this one too so that the reader can compare these if they so desire.  The picture of the Lexington intake is in Tuesday’s entry.)



I hadn’t expected to see such amazing structures in consecutive pools!  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if they give tours of these then I’m raising my hand to volunteer for one!  I’ll even walk all the way up those steps if that’s what it takes to get me in! 


Speaking of walking, I got out at a shoal to check out a stream of water coming down the rocks from this intake and immediately sank a foot deep in silt.  I had a time getting all the little rocks out of my water shoes.


Paddling on, I saw something else for a second time - when you look under the water when passing downed trees there are sometimes orange globs on them which appear to have white specks.  I’m wondering what these are?  I know the turtles like to sun themselves on limbs protruding over the water, and even though these globs are just under the surface on these limbs, I’m wondering if they might be turtle eggs.  If so, I’m not sure why the fish aren’t getting to them?  Maybe they have a substance on them that is poisonous to fish and the fish instinctively know not to eat them?  As you can tell, I’m fairly clueless here…



Anyway, after the water intake the river is pretty much straight for almost 4 miles from mile 154 to mile 151, and the palisades are gone for the most part, although they will crop in briefly from time to time during the remainder of the trip.  Sea Lion Branch and Boones Run come in from opposite sides of the river at mile 153 directly across from each other over shoals, and it was here that 2 ferries once operated side by side - the Boone ferry and the Carver ferry. 


A few more streams come in here too.  Christopher Run enters at mile 152.5 and Marble Yard at 152 (these are both on the left, Marble Yard with a lot of ATV trails visible). 


Most of the streams in here have pretty large shoals, by the way, but the biggest was at the Stony Fork which enters from the left at mile 151.  It stretches half way across the river, although it’s more overt than the one back at Raven Run, which was quite a bit stealthier, lying just underneath the surface as it did. 


Yet another ferry (the Stony Fork) ran across the river at this particular point.  It was located on the Jessamine county side of the river across from this stream either near or on what’s referred to on the navigation charts as Renfro Bar.  There used to be a general store here too. 


At this point you’ll enter into a tight backward “S” curve, and some nice rolling hills are visible atop the left bank as you look past Stony Run.



Nearing mile 150 the Silver Creek comes in and I got in almost 1/2 mile.  Another large sandbar was across from this (actually this whole mile is just about all sand on the right), and there apparently was an island here for a time while they were in the process of building dams 8 and 9. 


Guess what I also saw here – more minnows!  I see these all over on every trip now but I never tire of them.  If I ever do then something has gone wrong with me!



At mile 149.5 I was back where I began with the ramps coming in on both sides of the river and the Hunter’s Run entering the river on the right.  I ended up paddling down to the Lower Hunter sand bar at Sawmill Run where the river took a curve right, and guess what?  ANOTHER ferry ran here (the Lower Hunter Ferry don’t-cha know)!  The scenery on this part of the river was predominantly farmland on the right with a rocky left bank. 


When I got back to the ramp the dog was gone, and as I drove out I took my time so that I could get some pictures of the countryside.  A drive out here in the fall would be very rewarding with all the trees changing color.  You could even have a picnic at the Poosey Ridge ramp!  There were a couple picnic tables.  Either that, or check out the restaurant at the Acre’s of Land Winery on Barnes Mill mentioned above.  It’s beginning to turn out that as a bonus to these trips I’m getting some really good ideas for scenic drives!




Pretty easy here...  Find KY595 from wherever you’re located and follow it north until it reaches its end.  The ramp is here.