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Licking River


KY1930 ( Locust Pike Park) Ramp Downstream to Covington, Kentucky on Ohio River


Wednesday, August 18, 2010




For this one I’m going to start at the end (or you could possibly consider it the beginning/end) - the KY1930 Ramp.  This, to my mind, was an intensely interesting area.  To drive by it now you might not realize it, but this was once – and it still is, actually - the site of a pretty grandly scaled park.  Now a bit overgrown, this Locust Pike Park looks to have stretched at least a mile along the river.  In fact, there’s a very old paved road that you can still see which extends the entire distance.  It’s now part of what they call the Ryland Heights Wilderness Trail.


The ramp that I put in from today was clearly once part of the park too as was an old basketball court and later on, once I’d gotten on the water, I also noticed a nice picnic spot with a few tables under some really sweet looking shade trees.  All looking to be in need of some TLC now, one gets the feeling that this was once part of someone’s grand plan only to run into either a lack of interest or a lack of funds to keep it going.  It’s incredibly intriguing to imagine what it once might have looked like! 


Today I did something different.  I usually paddle upriver on streams that I’m unfamiliar with, but today I was going to try heading downriver.  3 things:  there weren’t any dams that I was aware of, there was no appreciable flow to the water, and it didn’t look like this section would be nearly as far as the last I’d paddled upriver from this same ramp.  Nevertheless determined to be very careful, I set out…



You’re really in the farmland here with the park on your left as you make an initial right curve, and it was here that I made my first general observation today - the banks would be mostly mud-lined with only very occasional rocky areas.  You’ll be able to spot houses occasionally too, but they’ll eventually morph into businesses further downriver.  And the picnic tables I mentioned?  They’ll be visible toward the end of the curve on your left side above a spot where there’s an ancient guardrail at the rivers’ edge.



From here you’ll launch into a long straight which ends in a shoal at the beginning of a long left curve.  There’s a CSX rail line that runs this entire distance on your left (and you’ll pass under this same line later), but as the river makes this curve it looks like there’s an entire train yard up there behind the forested bank.  The right side is interesting too.  After some residences and a bar and restaurant called Clines on the River there’s what looks like an auto salvage business.  Lemme tell ya – between this and the rail yard, this was one NOISY area!


Anyway, Clines looks like a nice place to hoist some brews, although you’d have to walk a way – it’s pretty high up on the right shoreline.  A bit further downriver than the Fish and Wildlife map indicates, I’m assuming this establishment once had more of a dock on the water - and possibly a little bar too - but that the river might have washed these away one too many times to make them worthwhile to keep operating...  Their ramp looks to be in pretty solid shape though, and “next door” at the rivers’ edge is a really nice looking little park.


From here the river gets a little difficult to describe, but the next section is generally a very long and slow curve right along which the I275 Bridge comes in at about the middle.  Composed of its’ own little arcs and straights, this “C” seemingly has something noteworthy to mark each one.  At the first slight right, for example, you’ve got some steel cylinders in the water at which, I believe, they used to dock barges.  The business here didn’t look like it was operating anymore, but the next one sure did.  It came up at a little left curve and there were a few more of the docking structures here.  I couldn’t quite tell what kind of business this was. 


Between these 2 sites there was also a little incoming stream that I got about 200 yards into at the end of the day.  There was a bridge in back and it looked like the water ended right after it, but of course I had to be a “completist” so I paddled under.  Boy was it dark!  I got an eerie feeling as I paddled through, envisioning what could be lurking under that water!  I think if I’d heard even a peep I’d have jumped out of my skin!



Not too long after you start the next little right curve you’ll spot the I275 Bridge in the distance, and at this point there must have been some kind of school or sports field up on the right - I could hear a coach barking orders on the way back.  There was also some kind of structure on the left side.  Cylindrical in shape, it looked quite old but very well constructed with a brick, windowed top – an old water intake, maybe?


At any rate, seeing the bridge was a significant point for me today because until I did I was still under the assumption that this section would be much shorter than it actually turned out to be.  “Where the heck is that bridge?”  I’d been wondering…  The fact that I was only seeing it now meant that it was going to take me a lot longer than I thought to paddle back – and I’d have to adjust for the slight bit of current that I’d noticed.  I was really going to have to watch my time or I’d get back well after dark.


After the shoal on the left under the 275 bridge the river forms a straight section of the “C”, and seeing some kind of structure on the left at the end, I found it to be what looked like another water intake (maybe this is the new version of the one I just mentioned…).  There was an incoming stream after this too (Banklick Creek) and I got in about 400 yards, passing under a couple bridges as I did (one for CSX and one for DeCoursey Pike).  An ancient ramp was barely visible through the foliage which covered it on the right, and I think there was a tiny lake up there too.


Back on the river now, you’re on the last portion of the “C” before you begin curving left.  There’s a park ( Rosedale) and then a golf course (Twin Oaks) on your left and on your right is another business.  Possibly a salvage or scrap metal yard, this is also the site of old barge which has been left abandoned for so long that it actually blends into the shoreline.  You can definitely tell that you’re getting close to the Cincinnati/Covington area now too.  There’s a highway in the background and what I think was a television broadcast antenna extending upwards in the distance. 


Completing this curve and then straightening out, I noticed what was clearly a park up on the right side.  This turned out to be a location called Frederick’s Landing, and I can tell you that there’s a really nice and well maintained ramp here along with a picnic shelter, some bathrooms, and some overhead lighting – the whole 9 yards.  The ramp was a bit recessed though, and I almost missed it because my attention was distracted by 2 railroad bridges.  One of these was clearly no longer in use, but the other was apparently part of the CSX rail line that I mentioned previously.  More of those cylindrical structures here too – and on both sides of the water – along with some kind of business on the left.  It was definitely starting to get busy!


Probably the most intriguing sight came next, however, at what appeared to be a steel yard.  There was a crane loading a barge here, you see, and this crane appeared to be floating on air, suspended as it was atop some kind of rail system which appeared transparent from a distance.  Slowly emerging into view from somewhere back onshore, it seemed to hover over the trees as it unloaded it’s cargo onto the barge.  The whole process was kind of fun to watch, but I feel a little strange watching people work, so I didn’t stay too long.



As you make a final left curve its “Hello Cincinnati” as you can see the tallest buildings in the distance as the river straightens out.  Another CSX bridge and a road bridge (for West 11th Street) span this section, and there are neighborhoods on the left and a couple more businesses on the right.  There are also some more of those ancient looking barges in here that seem to blend into the shoreline. 


What’s striking, however, is that on some of these sections you’d still feel like you were in a more rural area were it not for the noise - check out the ducks, for example (they, themselves seem to blend into the shoreline, don’t they?), while in other areas it’s definitely urban.  One business had so many of those cylinders (maybe 75 - 100) that you couldn’t see anything else for a couple hundred yards!



Anyway, after passing under the West 4th Street Bridge you’ll have Cincinnati front and center with the beautiful turn of the century homes of Covington, Kentucky on your left.  On your right will be Newport, Kentucky’s Taylor Park.  You won’t be able to stop taking pictures of all this, but watch out for the power boats as you do!  Despite knowing that I was in trouble as far as time, I simply had to stay a while.  Did I ever wish I had more time to spend!




Here’s for the Red’s fans…



…and here’s upriver on the Ohio



…and downriver…



Once I was finally able to tear myself away and head back, I vowed to return again and put in from Fredericks Landing or from somewhere else nearby.  It looked as if they were prohibiting use of the Covington side of the Licking River mouth as a put in, but there are other access points just a bit further up (Newport on the Levy) and further down the Ohio River (off Riverside Place under the Roebling Bridge).  Check out this great web page ( for even more put in points. 


As for me, I’ve not utilized any urban ramps before so I’m unsure if there’d be any security concerns (especially gang-wise).  I’d rather utilize rural put-ins if I can, or make certain I won’t be there after dark.  Speaking of which, I did somehow manage to get back to my ramp before dark – barely – and I still had time enough left to visit a Skyline Chili before they closed (they don’t have any where I live now)! 


Today turned out to be very interesting!  If you’re curious as to how the character of a river changes as you progress from a rural to an urban atmosphere, then this is a great place to do so!






From Lexington (This is confusing, but I thought it better than the alternative below during Cincinnati rush hour)


I took Exit 171 (KY14/KY16) from I75 and proceeded to follow all the KY16 signs.  You’ll want to keep your eyes peeled as this road will take many turns, but if you stay on it you’ll eventually reach the intersection of KY2044 (don’t make the turn on KY2043 – hold out for KY2044!).  There’s a YMCA on the right when you make the turn onto 2044.  Be careful here because you won’t get much warning of the turn after you see the first KY2044 sign.  It’ll come up seemingly immediately and you’ll make a right.


KY2044 is confusing.  Keep at it following the yellow lined portions.  You’ll pass a sign that indicates the end of county maintenance.  Don’t let this fool you.  Keep heading straight until you reach a stop sign and take a right onto Stewart (going past Ryland Heights School).  Stewart quickly dead ends in at KY177 (DeCoursey Pike).  Take a left here and go .6 miles to KY1930 (White’s Road).  The ramp is just over 2 miles from this point, and you’ll know you’re getting close when you begin winding down through the rocks.  Reaching yet another intersection at the bottom, keep left onto KY1930 and go .9 miles more.  The ramp will be clearly visible on your right side.


From Cincinnati


From I275 take exit 79 (onto KY16, or Taylor Mill Road) and head south toward Covington, Kentucky.  Go what looks like about 3 miles and make a left onto Wolf Road.  Take this to KY177 (DeCoursey Pike) and make another left.  Then, making another left onto KY1930 (White’s Road), you’ll know you’re getting close when you begin winding down through the rocks.  Leveling out, you’ll reach yet another intersection.  Keep left and go another .9 miles on KY1930.  The ramp will be clearly visible on your right side.