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Wood Creek Lake


Northern Half of Lake from Boat Ramp off Moriah Road


Sunday, May 31, 2010




This is an interesting lake.  I’d passed it many times on Interstate 75 just north of London, Kentucky but I’d never paddled it.  I thought it might be too small because it wasn’t on the Fish and Wildlife map that I have.  So, when a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to try paddling here, I was curious.  In fact, I didn’t even know the name of this lake until he mentioned it - there’s just not that much information out there about it compared to some of the other Kentucky lakes. 


Well, I can tell you that it’s quite worthwhile to check out, and that it’s most certainly large enough to be worth the trip!  I paddled 8 hours non-stop, covering all the coves north of the boat ramp I used and I only made it through about 1/2 of the lake.  At my paddle rate (2 ½ miles per hour in my boat), that’s about 20 miles of shoreline – plenty big!  The fishing is supposed to be outstanding out here too.


Traveling as per the directions below, I got to the boat ramp north of Bernstadt, Kentucky about a quarter till 11 and parked alongside the little road which led to Wood Creek Lodge.  It costs $3 for all boats at this ramp (even kayaks), so I paid at the little building and was told that I could have parked anywhere – not a problem.  Since my friends wouldn’t arrive for about another ½ hour though, I went ahead and began paddling, calling them first to let them know that with their longer, faster boats they’d soon overtake me (yes, I did get phone service out here).


Wood Creek Lake was formed from the damming of the Wood Creek by Interstate 75 (the highway itself is the dam).  In fact, the water comes so close to this freeway that I originally thought I might be able to gain access to the lake directly from it, but as I looked at the situation later from down on the water, I found that this wouldn’t have been possible.  As far as the shape of the lake, the bottom half is easy to describe – it’s a near perfect “C” – but the top half (toward the dam) doesn’t exactly lend itself to easy description.  I’ll describe it as I go.  As for the water in general, it looked fairly clear and shallow along the shoreline but with a pretty steep drop-off thereafter.


Now it could just be me, but when I paddle on lakes all the coves and contours can sometimes seem to mesh together (especially when I’m tired at the end of a trip!), so to avoid confusion I pay really close attention to the shorelines.  Today I didn’t have a lake map either (although I did have a general idea of its size and shape), so I decided that I’d stick to the shoreline on my left and not stray from that.  That way I wouldn’t get lost – or so I thought – and arrive directly across from the ramp at the end of the day.  It actually worked!


This lake is actually pretty narrow when you first set out from this ramp, so in that regard it reminded me a little of Herrington Lake.  I would find that it opened up later near the dam, but this would generally hold true, and so I wouldn’t suppose that this lake would be ideal for water skiers.  I didn’t see any today…


After first paddling a tight backward “S” shape, I was looking down a straight section of water.  There was a rocky ramp on my left when I straightened, and then another further down on my right where several boats were docked.  I’m not sure if these access points are public or not, but from the map I’m looking at now, the one on the right looks like it was at the end of Lakeview Road.


The lake itself curves right from here, but I explored the cove that was straight ahead of me first.  This turned out to be one of four fairly sizeable ones today, and it was near the back of this that I met with 4 other kayakers!  Each had a different colored boat that they were fishing from, and it made for an interesting sight because it’s fairly rare to see one kayak on the water, much less 4!  Seems they were vacationing out here from Indiana for the week...


Anyway, when I emerged from this cove I took a left to rejoin the lake, and in doing so I was traveling north and slightly west on a little straight stretch which topped out in a “dome” shape.  There was also another very small cove to the left here, and I met my only heron of the day at the tip of the dome.  I was somewhat surprised by this.  I usually see many more. 


If you’re staring at this “dome”, by the way, the portion of land to your right takes the form of a triangle which looks to be very, very close to an island on the map – the dome cuts into and almost right through the landmass.  I was to paddle around this triangle next by making a very sharp right turn, then a left, and then another left in rapid succession, and in doing this I began to notice quite a bit of brown algae under the water near the shoreline. 


In fact, this lake generally seemed to have more and different kinds of plant life under the surface of the water than any I’d seen yet.  Some varieties looked like evergreen bushes under the water, and there would also be a lot of lily pads once I got to the other side.  One of the kayakers had mentioned that this lake was supposed to be one of the cleanest in the nation, and maybe that’s why.  Also of note in paddling this triangle was the water treatment plant on my right (at least I think it was one – it appears to be at the end of Filter Plant Road).


What I next noticed on my right was a really interesting spot where a very thin rock peninsula jutted out.  Maybe a little more than the width of a car, this looked like a very inviting place to stop and relax, so I just had to take a quick break from my paddle-the-left-shoreline rule.  I’d be careful if you decide to get out of your boat here, though - the drop-off seems pretty steep.  (This was where my buddies caught up with me, by the way.)



There’s another tiny cove across the water from this little peninsula, and if you look at the lake from the mouth of this (northeast), it will next take the form of an “M” which you’ll be paddling from right to left.  As I emerged from the cove that comprises the middle of this letter, I spotted a paved ramp on the opposite side of the lake (In fact, when I paddled over there on the way back I saw that there were actually 2 spots to put in.  It looks like these are off of Rocky Branch Road, but I don’t know for sure if they’re public). 


Complete this “M” and you’ll form another one which will comprise the remainder of the north end of the lake.  You’ll also paddle this one from right to left, with the only “flaw” in it being another fairly large cove branching off to the right of the first rise.  It was in looking north at this “M”, that I met with a totally unexpected sight - a “mesarizona”!!!  Yep, a real mesa in Kentucky!  Just when you think you’ve seen everything, something else turns up!



Anyway, in the middle of this “M” was, yes, another cove!  This was one of the larger ones, and it branched off at the end.  Taking the left fork, I found myself in what was probably one of my favorite sections of the lake today, and there was even a nice little wooden fishing dock at the back of this too.


This particular area also helped to solidify another notion which had been brewing for me - what nice places they have out here!  Almost every dwelling I saw seemed to have a really classic, classy feel and most of them were either cabins or cabin-like.  Here’s an example.  Hope the owner doesn’t mind me posting the picture…



Rounding the corner as you come out of the middle of the “M”, you’ll see the I75 dam across from you, and you’ll make a sharp left to enter the final northern section of the lake.  My friends had to be heading back at about this point, so they could only explore one more cove with me (the one on your right after you make the curve), and I’ll tell ya…  I’m glad they were still with me here, because one of them caught something that I would probably have missed.  To your left at the back of this cove is what looked like a log cabin.  At first we thought that it might be an old, abandoned one but in looking at the pictures, it could also just be that it’s new and unfinished and that this location was selected for its remoteness.  Hard to tell, but there was also an odd bit of metal protruding into the lake here which looked similar to a section of old railroad track.


Upon the departure of my comrades, I headed back to the left side of the lake and passed up the next little cove I saw (because there was a power boat fishing at the mouth) to first explore the lakes’ end.  In doing so I noticed that it also forks off at the back in here with what looks like a couple dirt roads coming down to the shoreline at different points.  The one descending on the left looked especially steep.


Coming back to explore the cove I’d just passed, I found that it might be the most interesting one out here.  That’s because in addition to the rock formation below (among others), there was also what looked like a little park back here, complete with benches in the midst of what was a very, very pleasant location.  I’m not really sure if this is public, but I tend to doubt it, even though I didn’t specifically see any “No Trespassing” signs.  Just the feeling I got…  There were, however, a couple other people back here enjoying it.  Not wanting to disturb their tranquility, I didn’t stick around as long as I normally might have.



Time to head back...  After very carefully exploring the area around the dam, I went on to check out the last of the larger coves.  As mentioned, this side of the lake was where I saw all the lily pads.  I think I passed about 4 groupings of these, and whenever I saw them I couldn’t stop taking pictures.  It was amazing to me how their stems kind of wound up from the bottom of the lake, to then branch out and form the pad, which itself took the shape of “Pac-man” from the old game!  There were red, green and yellow Pac-Man’s!  Sights like this make me just want to throw up my hands and laugh at their sheer awesomeness!




The cove was very nice and quiet while I was back there, and at the very end I noticed what looked like little palm plants!  This would have been a very nice, contemplative section of the lake but for what sounded like a dozen dogs going crazy nearby!



Coming out of this cove I was surprised.  There was apparently a very shallow area at the tip of one peninsula, because as I slowly edged around the side of it with each paddle, the view of a couple with their dog lying in the water slowly emerged.  They were very quiet – even the dog – so much so that the very sight of them kind of startled me a bit! 


The remainder of my trip was really peaceful as I spent it in quiet contemplation of my experience.  I look forward to exploring the rest of this nice lake!




The Daniel Boone Parkway (Route 80) intersects I75 just north of London, Kentucky.  Go west on it for almost 5 miles and then start looking for a green sign for the boat ramp.  This will come up just past the 5 mile mark at a Marathon gas station, but it’s so small that I’d like you to start looking for it earlier so you won’t accidentally pass it up as I almost did.  It the kind of sign that you see with mileages to different cities on it on the freeway, but it’s only got one destination, so it’s thinner (you know what I mean).  This sign will be on your right and you’ll follow it to take a right on Hawk Creek Road. 


Follow Hawk Creek for one mile, and then take a right onto Moriah Road (there’s a convenience store here).  I saw a small blue “Boat Ramp” sign on my left before I ever saw the street name and this directed me to make the right turn.  Follow Moriah for about a mile and a half to the boat ramp at the end (don’t take the left onto Half Moon or the right on Boulder).  You can park almost anywhere you can find a spot, but they charge a $3 fee.