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Dix River


Kings Mills Marina Upstream to End of “Scottish Terrier”


Monday, August 16, 2010




Yes, the Lord must have a sense of humor!  Surely it’s a Scottish terrier that I see when I look at the contours of the river I paddled today!  No doubt!  (OK - maybe it’s a slightly humped back terrier, but it’s definitely a terrier looking to its left!)  I began this trip from the tip of the tail at the Bryant’s Camp Ramp.  Multi-laned, this put-in is also the site of an old motel and its affiliated restaurant (no longer in business). 


Well, I can tell you that the place absolutely fascinated me.  The boat dealership next door seems to overshadow it now, but it appears that this little inn and eatery must have been quite an operation back in the day.  I talked with the man I gave my money to and he mentioned that it used to be extremely popular, but that it hadn’t been the same since his wife passed away. 


This saddened me.  I’d love to see places like this all over Kentucky’s waterways – and they’d be especially great stopovers for long distance paddlers.  Nevertheless, the nice brick structures out here still stand in testament to the entrepreneurial vision of the people who ran this business.



There was a charge for the ramp, by the way - $6.  I only had $5 to my name, and 3 of that was in dimes!  Would he let me slide?    Well…  OK.  $6 or even $5 seems pretty high to me for a kayak put-in, but I try to bring at least $5 with me just in case.  Most of the ramps I’ve used in the state have been free of charge, but you still have to be prepared to pay.


I took a right from the ramp once I got on the water and headed downriver (or lake) to the Kings Mill Marina.  This stretch represents the hind section of the dog from the tip of the tail on down, and said marina comes in just after you’ve completed the shape.  Well, today the area was of great interest to me.  In fact, I think it – like the business I described above – is a testament to something.  In this case, the American spirit!



Kings Mill was washed out in the spring floods this year, you see, and I understand that a lot of it had broken off and drifted downstream.  I’m not exactly sure how much, but I do know that the damage was significant.  Well, as I sat looking at it today I could tell that yes - things weren’t quite back to the way they had been, but you could nevertheless see the flag painted on the rocks behind the marina, note how the place looks now after all that mayhem, and tell that it’s still in operation despite the setbacks.  If that’s not a tribute to the American spirit, I don’t know what is!  Kudos Kings Mill!


I’ll begin describing the paddle today as if I’d started from this point and then headed upriver.  That’s how I’ve done it in previous entries for the area...  So, turning around I first passed under the KY34 Bridge on a sharp right curve before launching into a very slow left curve to begin climbing up the back of the terrier and its’ tail.  In this section you’ll notice plenty of houses atop little cliffs - cliffs which often end at the water in a little set of stone “steps” (this area of the Dix is, in general, pretty home-lined and some are quite impressive). 


Another bridge – the Old Kentucky 34 Bridge – crosses the water here too, yet I was frustrated as I tried in vain to get good close-up pictures of the wildlife.  This new camera I have is supposed to be an improvement over the 4 year old version I had previously, but I’m not so sure yet…  In fact, I may switch back to the old one!  Then again...  I guess this did turn out OK, but darn it, is this a loon or a grebe?!?



As you approach the final curve in the tip of the terrier’s tail the houses on the right will seem to disappear and there will be a shoal on the left.  The ramp I used (Bryant’s Camp) runs over this, and an incoming stream ( Clark’s Run) comes in directly across the river from it.  I was able to get in a good ¾ mile and, hearing some noise as I neared the end, I rounded a curve and ran into a group of about a dozen people.  Young and old alike (along with a few dogs) were down here enjoying the area.


These were nice people.  They put up with me and my questions for a while before I moved on.  (I’ll note here, however, that I prefer to keep these kinds of encounters brief because I know that my presence has not been a foreseen one, and I don’t want to interrupt other peoples’ time together any longer than I already have.)  Since the water at this point still seemed to be at a fairly good level and the shorelines at a fairly good width, I thought I might be able to get a bit further back and leave these people in peace for at least a little while before I had to paddle back out... 


It wasn’t to be.  Just my luck, after rounding the very next curve my progress was stopped by low water and rocks!  I turned back, and sure enough – they were swimming.  I think they’d been waiting for me to pass before they started.  Oooops.  Must my ill-fortune always leave me in these awkward positions?!?


This cove was beautiful, though!  Check out the rocks on the one side and the gentle slope of the shoreline on the other…  This was definitely one of the most insulated spots I’ve seen on this river/lake too.



Once you get back to the Dix, the little straight you’ll see upstream is the descent of the tail down to the dogs’ back.  The businesses I described at the onset are on the left side with more houses on the right (there’s a ramp coming down too, but it looks like a private neighborhood ramp).  Back on the left, however, was something interesting extending out from the rocks.  It looks like this might have been an old water intake or something, but it’s really well - and classically - constructed!


There was a tiny cove in this section on the right too.  It didn’t go back far at all, but I noticed a ton of little yellow butterflies or moths on the muddy shoreline…



…and coming out, I got a decent heron shot…



At the tip of the right curve which will deposit you onto the dogs’ back, there’s a little gravel ramp which looks like another private (farm) one.  (I hope not to bore you, by the way, with all the times I’ll mention ramps in this entry, but there are a ton of them out here that I’m trying to distinguish - private from public.)


On the dog’s back now - it consists of another straight, then a short left curve, and then a long, slow right curve to finish.  The outsides of these bends (to include the first straight section) consist of fairly tall forested banks that end in rocky ledges at the shorelines.  The insides are low lying, grassy, and home lined.   They’re very nice spots.


As far as the ramps, there’s a neighborhood one in the middle of the first straight off of Herrington Haven Road (it looks private), and then there are 5 more on the long right curve along Clifton Road.  A couple of these come in at the beginning and they look pretty old.  It’s hard to tell if they’re in use anymore.  According to the Fish and Wildlife map, one of these is/was for Miller’s Landing.  Then, around the middle of this same curve come a couple more.  They look to be better maintained, but I don’t know if they’re public.  It looks like they’re in an RV park setting and the map shows one of these as belonging to Clifton’s Dock, although I’m unsure if that’s still the case. 


The final one at the end was definitely the most interesting to me.  It came in at a point just before you end Fidos’ back and launch into the long straight which forms the back of his head (there’s some kind of pipeline that goes over the water here too).  The ramp itself appears to be gravel and it even has a port-a-bathroom with some lamp posts which provide lighting.  It’s really a very nice spot, and I’d sure like to find out more about it.  If anyone can help, my address is on the WHO I AM page.



From this point on the signs of habitation will be fewer and farther between in the midst of farmland (in fact, the entire head of the dog might well consist of one large farm along Lakeside Drive).  Of note, too, is that when you get to the very top of the dogs’ head and start making that left curve, there will be a sheer rock wall on your right side…



From here you’ll begin a long, slow curve right that will take you down past the dogs’ eye socket to the tip of its snout.  Here, about where you’d balance a dog biscuit (if you were really mean!), were some great grassy areas that looked to be part of the property of some very fortunate people!  This was the section where a saw a couple turkey vultures and first noticed a large school shad minnows.  It really is a lush and beautiful environment.



There’s a fairly sharp left curve now to complete the muzzle of the dog, and near the end was another ramp on the left side that was so nice looking I’ve got to assume it was a private neighborhood ramp - but I’m not totally sure.  There was more farmland across the way from this, and it looks on the map like its part of another large farm which comprises the entire inside of the next right curve.  It was just prior to embarking on this new arc that I met with a great sight.  This farmer had a great fishing spot set up, access to which was attained on a path through his fields.  It was a classic rural scene!


This right turn in the river runs from the neck of the dog on down to its chest area while a final left curve completes the form.  This area was all farmland all the time and it was extremely quiet and pleasant, but I wouldn’t get much further - the water quickly got really low and rocky just like it had in the little creek across from the ramp.  Alas, my hope of making it to the Hanging Fork of the Dix River or even to the Boone Creek today would be for naught.  An unnamed stream entered not very far up from where I eventually began heading back.



The rural scenes on the right in here were exceptional though, and I wanted to get even more pictures but the memory in my camera ran out!  Seems I hadn’t adjusted for the fact that the higher resolution on this new camera would take up more memory...  Oh, well.


I’ll make a general note here and point out that there is one good thing about paying at a ramp – it’s likely to be safer.  Not only do you have the peace of mind in knowing that someone is there, you also know that the mere presence of that person is likely to discourage misbehavior.  So, keeping this in mind, I found myself free to stay out a little later than usual.  In fact, I floated quite a bit on the way back in order to better take everything in, and if I hadn’t I might not have experienced the funny occurrence that I did.


I saw a fisherman onshore at the inside of a curve, you see, so I cut the boat in order to make a long arc around him so as not to disturb either his line or the fish that might be interested in his bait.  Well, once I’d done this I saw the “fisherman” in full view.  He was part deer, part gossamer!  I’d only seen the front of the deer, mistaking it for part of a human silhouette, and the fishing “line” I saw angling into the water was apparently one large strand of a spiders’ web!





This ramp can be accessed off of US27 between Lexington and Lancaster.  The turnoff is just over 1 mile south from where KY34 cuts off to heads into Danville.  In fact, I believe it was the first right ( Bryant Camp Road) I took after that US27/KY34 split.  Make this right turn and then stay on Bryant Camp as it curves left and then right (if you find yourself on Paper Mill Road, turn back). 


You’ll be on Bryant Camp for a little more than 4 miles before you’ll arrive at the ramp.  Stay straight until you get to the intersection with Herrington Hvn and then make a right to stay on Bryant Camp until it “T”s.  Then make a left and go to the end of the road.  The ramp is here.  It costs $6 and you can drop the money in the mailbox of the old motel office.