Laurel County is in the midst of Kentucky’s best paddling area. Our canoeing and kayaking opportunities range from quiet flat-water streams and lakes to some of Kentucky’s best Class III and IV white-water.
Take a look below at some of the paddling opportunities we have to offer.
Upper Rockcastle River, Livingston to KY Hwy 1956
Description: This section of the Rockcastle is usually runnable from late fall to mid-summer. This part of the river is very scenic. This is a Class I+ pool and riffle stream. This has been a favorite for canoe campers for decades. River access points are:
The river distance from Livingston to the I-75 Bridge is about 6 miles. From the I-75 bridge to Hwy 1956 is about 11 miles. Paddling is best when water flow rates are between 100 cfs and 1500 cfs. Flow rates can be checked on the internet at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ky/nwis/uv?site_no=03406500.
Lower Rockcastle River, KY Hwy 1956 to Lake Cumberland
The lower Rockcastle River is a protected river due to its inclusion in the Kentucky Wild and Scenic River program. The Narrows and Beech Narrows section is one of Kentucky’s most popular whitewater kayak runs. The scenery is fantastic. You will be surrounded by tall, forested hills which will eventually give way to high rock bluffs further downstream. House sized boulders are found along the streambanks and within the stream. Paddling the lower Rockcastle is interesting and challenging. The river distances are:
From KY Hwy 1956, River description and Class:
River access points along the lower Rockcastle are limited. Access points include:
The quiet bays and backwaters of the lake are excellent locations for wildlife viewing. The lake has a resident population of giant Canadian Geese, and is home to wintering Bald Eagles. It is also possible to glimpse the native wildlife including deer and wild turkey, which frequent the shore line.
Laurel River Lake lends itself to canoe camping. There are two secluded paddle-in campgrounds with running water, developed tent sites and toilets. There are also two full service campgrounds. For large groups, a secluded group camp ground is also located on the lake. All campgrounds are operated by the US Forest Service.
Paddling opportunities are accessed by seven launch ramps located conveniently around the lake. The lake also contains two full service marinas. Learn more at the Daniel Boone National Forest, Non-motorized Water Recreation Website
Canoe campers can stock up on groceries, fishing and camping supplies at the full service Holly Bay Marina. Canoe campers can even get a hot meal at the marina grill. Holly Bay is open year-round. The Marina is handicapped accessible.
If you are paddling or camping on the southern side of the lake you can get groceries, fishing and camping supplies at the Grove Marina. Grove also has a grill that serves hot meals.
Difficulty: Class III and IV
Put-in: just below the Laurel Lake Dam, off KY1193.
Takeout: confluence with the Cumberland River and Lake Cumberland.
Shuttle: Follow KY1193 south across the Laurel River Dam and then go right on KY1277 and follow till it dead ends at the confluence of Laurel River and Lake Cumberland
Learn more at www.americanwhitewater.org/content/River/detail/id/3312
Usual Difficulty: Class III+ (IV) at normal flows
Length: 10.5 miles
Average Gradient: 11 feet per mile
Put in: The put in is right below Cumberland Falls. Park at the Falls parking lot and walk between the two buildings and veer right to find the upper most cobblestone path and follow it all the way down to the sandy beach. From interstate 75 exit 25 in Corbin take 25W west approximately 10 miles to highway 90 and follow the signs another 6 miles to Cumberland Falls State Park.
A more detailed description of each of the rapids along this run can be found at www.americanwhitewater.org/content/River/detail/id/656.
Largemouth bass, pan fish, catfish and rainbow trout fishing is excellent in Wood Creek Lake. As a matter of fact, Wood Creek is home to the Kentucky state record largemouth. The record breaking fish weighed over 13 pounds.
To get to Woods Creek Lake from I-75 paddlers should take exit 41. Go west on KY Hwy 80 about 7 miles, turn right and go past Ott’s Grocery and bear right at the forks. The road ends at the boat dock.