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2008 Kentucky River Kayak Trek


Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Eagle Creek to Dam 1 (Mile 4)



 This turned out to be one wacky day!  That’s the best way I can describe it.  I’d had an uneasy sleep and I awoke with a bit of anxiety as to what I would experience.  If this trek was going to be stopped it would stopped here.  I HAD to find a put-in.  As I mentioned, the Eagle Creek Resort was private so I had to find somewhere else to go with access to the water - I was prepared for anything. 


I figured that my best chance of finding a spot was either at dam 1 or at the rock quarry in Carrollton.  As I drove out, however, I found that I needed to get gas and I had to pass the quarry in order to get to a station...  Therefore, instead of backtracking to the quarry, I decided to check out the dam first.  I asked the attendant at the gas station on a lark if she knew of a put-in, but she only knew of the one at Point Park (a park on the Ohio River in Carrollton which had I planned to use next time). 


Upon filling up, I drove on to the General Butler State Park a little bit further down because I knew that the location of the dam was right on its border.  On that drive I decided to head through the park and see what I could find, and it was in doing so that I eventually stumbled upon Lock 1 Road.  This was perfect!  Things were starting well.


I drove down the road (going only about 35-40 mph), yet the dam came up very quickly and unexpectedly – and it had no sign to indicate that you were about to drive right onto the property!  Well, I almost drove right past the lock houses and through the little iron guardrail at the end!  I had to put on the brakes pretty hard!  It turned out that this would have been a perfect put-in spot, but with all the “No Trespassing” signs and nowhere to park that was off the lock grounds I didn’t want to take the chance of getting fined or towed.  I had to move on…



I’d noticed a little lane on the upriver side of the lock which came down to the river and it looked like it would be off the grounds of the lock, so I decided to try and find the road leading down to it.  To that end, I drove up the hill and started scouting all the streets which looked to head in that direction.  Not finding anything reasonable, however, I drove very slowly hoping to encounter someone I could ask.  I eventually flagged down a woman who told me that there was a put-in spot on the other side of the river in Prestonville off KY389.  She was kind enough to give me pretty good directions to it and I headed off in that direction…


I crossed to the other side of the river as instructed, and once in the general area I started looking around.  Nothing was apparent.  I went down a side street and asked 2 men there, but the guys didn’t know of a sure spot although they had seen some boats come in and out the area before - so I drove down all the streets!  My best chance ended up being a road which came to a fenced-in area at which you needed a key code to open the gate.  Foiled again!


I went a little further and then headed back toward Carrollton.  Maybe I’d missed a street…  I had – another Lock Road (guess there are lock roads on both sides of the river here)!  This had to be it!    Nothing  ...  One guy told me about Point Park - it was the only place he knew.  I also asked a woman walking her dog, but she had no idea and never went down to the river.  That was it!  I gave up on this side of the river and headed back to try the quarry...


When I stepped into their office and asked them they must have thought I was crazy.  They said that their property did back up to the river but that the bank was really steep.  They couldn’t let me do it.  They didn’t want to be responsible in case anything happened and I could understand this.  They directed me to the florist next door that also backed up to the river…


At the florist I was told that it wouldn’t be feasible to put-in there, but that there was a spot where you could drive down to a creek next to them and enter the river that way.  It was just past the little bridge right after their property… 


I drove down and around this little area but encountered very large potholes in the dirt which had my car being buffeted around and bottoming out.  The place was also quite overgrown with vegetation and it wasn’t very visible.  Being alone I didn’t think it would be safe for me or for my car to use this spot.  That’s it!  I had ONLY ONE more possibility…


The Eagle Creek Resort.  Everyone I had talked to had said something to the tune of:  “Oh, nonono.  You can’t use that ramp.  It’s private”, yet I had no alternative.  I was fully ready to beg and plead on bended knee for them to let me put in there, and I asked the first person I saw who appeared to be working on his roof.  I braced myself as I waited his reply with bated breath and a heart ready to either break or leap for joy…


“Sure buddy!  Have at it!”




What incredible luck!!!  As I exuberantly drove back I began to wonder though...  Just what kind of “have at it” was this?  Was this a: “I’m just working on this guys’ roof and I don’t live here, so do whatever you want - have a blast - whoo-hoo, kind of “have at it” or was this legit?  Whichever it was, though, I had to go on it.  I’d gotten my affirmation so I wasn’t going to question it too much.


I put in at the muddy tip of land at the mouth of Eagle Creek forgetting about the current ramp (describes last entry) that was just out of my line of vision.  After all, I was too excited to get on the water and too worn out from my ordeal trying to find a ramp to be thinking clearly.  And boy was I ever happy to finally be on the water!    Wow!


The Eagle Creek entered right at this spot and I paddled it on the way back (I’m describing it now in the interest of arranging these journals in a downriver order).  I got in about ¾ mile into this fairly large creek (it’s supposed to be one of the longest creeks in the state), and it weaved back in the midst of quite a few onshore dwellings.


I would have been stopped earlier at a deadfall had it not been for a person who had cut through a large tree in the midst of it with a chainsaw.  This, of course, enabled easier navigation – and not only for me – there were a couple ramps on the left just a little further past the deadfall.  They could have been for what looked like an RV park here.  Worthville, Kentucky was also not too far away.  I hadn’t been aware of these ramps on my escapade.  Might they have made it easier?  Alas, I may never know – and maybe I don’t want to!


At the mouth of the Eagle Creek (on the left side as you come out) was a spot which the navigation charts indicated as being a state inspection station in 1802.  I didn’t see any remaining evidence of this though, and when I got back on the river I was in a fairly wide open spot on the river with farmland views through some trees directly across.


As you begin on the river you’ll have a little straight followed by a sharp right and then a sharp left turn around mile 10, and within these 2 curves was what looked like an old rail bridge.  The buttresses for it were, of course, massive and I always get an interesting feeling whenever I paddle right up to one these (at any bridge) and look up.  Towering above me, they tend to remind me of just how large the world is and what a small part I play in it.



Anyway, the water was a really sweet shade of blue as I looked down the long straightaway after the last aforementioned curve, and within these 2 miles were some great views of those amber waves of grain we’ve got in such abundance here in Kentucky!  Some more summer cottages were supposedly on the right at mile 9 but I couldn’t make them out.


Mill Creek entered at mile 8 (navigated ¼ mile) and it was another nice one.  At the back of it though, was a disconcerting spectacle.  There was a fishing line in a tree with a fish carcass dangling from the end!  It took me aback, and I tried to figure out exactly how it might have gotten up there.  Was this a natural occurrence (somehow the result of the rising and falling water level), or had someone put it up there deliberately?  Well, what I decided on the way back was that it was probably deliberate because I saw another one along the bank at another spot.  At any rate, I certainly didn’t dawdle when I paddled out of the creek.  Maybe someone just doesn’t want people poking around back here…


After mile 8 was a tight curve right followed by an abrupt and sharp jog left at the end of it (at mile 7).  The right curve was Dean’s Bend and the left jog was White’s Run Bend.  Goose Creek entered between these on the right, and the area here seemed quite vast compared to what I’d been used to - I definitely got the feeling that reaching the Ohio River convergence was eminent!  (Incidentally, at mile 7 on the right was a train yard which looked like it might have been possible as a put-in spot.  Nevertheless, it would still have been a challenge even if I had gotten permission.)


Another 2 mile long straight will greet you after the last curve, and there was a bridge visible in the distance for interstate 71.  White’s Run enters at mile 6.5 and this was where I had driven over all the underbrush in my quest for a put-in.  There were a couple bridges back into it, and one of them was of a construction different from any I had encountered before.  There was also more of that green alphabet soup!



Back at the river, and just before the I71 Bridge, I saw the spots which I’d asked people at the quarry and the florist about.  They were right – the bank here was pretty steep.  It would have been like sledding down a forested hill to get the kayak in, and then I would have had to climb back up, slipping and falling all the way – not to mention the poison ivy and brambles I probably would have had to suffer through.  (By the way, it turned out that there was farmland on the left side throughout this trip until I got near Carrollton, and that the outskirts of Carrollton itself extended on the right from this point on down to dam 1.)



An “S” curve began just before mile 5, and within it the dwellings of the city were starting to appear.  I’ll have to look it up, but I know Frankfort is the largest city on the river.  I’m betting that the combination of Irvine and Ravenna would qualify as the second.  What I don’t know is where Carrollton would fall.  I’m pretty sure it’s larger than Beattyville, but I’m not absolutely certain.  Lord willin’ and the crik’ don’t rise, I’ll have a better idea next time...


Dam 1 was at the end of the “S” curve, and I saw a fisherman on the water just before reaching it.  At first I thought he was in a powerboat, but no, he was paddling.  Dam 1 looked great, of course, so I now know that all of these dams are in incredible locations.  This one had the lock houses, but they looked similar to the ones at dam 12 – graffiti’d and in need of some TLC.



The little dirt road I had seen on my way out came down near (but just outside) the lock and dam grounds on the upriver side.  It, of course, would have been ideal for accessibility.  Someone could probably earn a little money by making this accessible to boaters.  I, for one, would be willing to pay a couple bucks to be able to.


The dam (as you might expect) was the lowest in elevation and more fantastic views will await you if you come out here.  I enjoyed the spot for a while as I got out and walked around a bit.  Having done so I headed back, and wouldn’t you know I got another one of those optical headaches!  I was ready for it this time though.  I’ll not fail to bring aspirin along with me again because the problem was gone by the time I got back to the ramp at Eagle Creek.



I’ll tell you… even if I’m never able to return here, this spot will forever hold significance for me.  It’s a great area, and as I stopped to savor the place and the moment, I began to wish that I could find someone with whom I could finally and absolutely determine the stance of the people here towards paddlers.



I got that chance...  Driving out, I flagged down a guy passing me in a golf cart.  He didn’t exactly clarify, but what he said was that they’d just like to maintain the character of the place.  I didn’t get the feeling that he minded me being there, but I could tell that they were a bit wary of strangers.  I guess what it boils down to is that they want to keep the number of outside visitors down, so I’ll probably not return here unless I’m specifically invited to do so.  If I could determine the status of the ramps back in the Eagle Creek, however…


At any rate, if you decide to try coming out, please be sure to be extremely considerate of the people here.  If they indicate any reluctance as to your presence at all, then be ready to go.  I’d even consider bringing some money with you in case they ask for a small fee, but if you can’t find anyone around I wouldn’t take any liberties out here.  Maybe some day they’ll consider making the area fully available to paddlers, but in the meantime I say a big “thank you” to the people who allowed me to be there!





I’ll leave this blank until (or if) I can clarify paddler status with the Eagle Creek Resort.