Fugitt Creek, Kentucky, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV-V(V+) (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||235 fpm|
|Max Gradient||340 fpm|
|POOR FORK AT CUMBERLAND, KY|
|usgs-03400500||600 - 3000 cfs||IV-V(V+)||00h40m||~ 137 cfs (too low)|
|CUMBERLAND RIVER NEAR HARLAN, KY|
|usgs-03401000||5000 - 10000 cfs||IV-V(V+)||00h40m||~ 505 cfs (too low)|
This creek is steep, continuous, and fast. Once the rapids start up few eddies exist. Scout everything. There are many blind turns and a whole lot of strainers. With higher flows this creek could easily upgrade to a solid Class V+. As you drive up Hwy 179 the creek will be roadside, when the road climbs up the mountain the creek disappears down into the hollow. After parking roadside, before a bouldery feeder stream, you hike down to the creek. Cross over the feeder stream, and hike up the creek about 100 yards. Put-in below a landslide that blocks a good portion of the creek. Be on the constant lookout for strainers, undercuts and debris. It is a great ride if you like adventure and don't mind walking a little.
The put-in is right at the first rapid Get Pitted (IV). After a little lead in the creek drops off into a steep slide with a trough down center left. The water hits a vertical rock ledge and form a huge vertical tube of water. At the top of the drop angle up to go into the tube with enough speed to punch the hole at the bottom. Come up paddling to get out of the back of the trough.
Down stream a short way is Come On Down(III+). It is a straight forward drop of about 7ft landing in a shallow, fast chute.
Next up is Hold your Breath(IV). It starts out with some low angle slides and diagonal waves and munchy holes. PIck your way down the entrance, stay on line, and make your way to hit the 10ft drop center left. There is a diving board like rock extending off that makes for a good line. Hit it with some speed and a good boof, or you will go for a submarine ride. There is a nice pool in the bottom to relax in. Paddle for 30 yards then Portage about a tree, putting back in above Shimmy.
After the pool you go into a fast stretch of boogie with limited eddies for about fifty yards until you come to the horizon line of Shimmy(V). It is a 10-15ft drop with a good portion of the flow going into an undercut boulder right at the bottom of the drop. There is currently a large tree stretched across the drop that is avoidable with the correct line. Try and work left, coming down with a left angle to keep clear of the van-sized undercut to the right. Power through the hole and boily pool at the bottom. From here on down to the bottom of the steep stuff, the creek is non stop with very few good eddies. The next rapid is the longest and most challenging. Portage around some trees for about 50 yards then put back in above the entrance to COD.
Cliffs of Despair (V) The first stretch starts out with a small 4ft slot drop followed by a big hole. The river turns the bend into a drop with three channels. Navigate this rocky cascade and continue on to where the river splits around a large boulder. The boulder has two ways around it. Left and right. The left side has the most water. It is a roughly 6ft drop chuting down into more boogie. The right side is a spread of smaller drops. The left side is much more hazardous, with many pin rocks. The right side a some potential pins and a small undercut and a refrigerator. Scout them both and decide which one is for you. At lower water the left line is very doable. EXIT the creek directly after the crux move to avoid the strainer.
Following that drop is In Her Tube(IV). Was a jumbled mess of boulders sliding into a hole, followed by some diagonal waves. The left line is probably the best and least obstructed by random boulders. This rapid no longer exists. Portage around to Slid in.
Slid In(III+) Is a steep rocky slide with a frothy chute down the center.
Directly after this is Brown Trout(III+). This one is a 6ft drop into a sticky hole and boily pool. There is a huge log in the flow of the best line. At most good levels the pool at the bottom has limited exits due to many large rocks and wood. After Brown Trout the creek has a lot of wood in it, more river wide strainers that you can count on two hands.
Miles O' Smiles(III), if the wood was gone this would be a blast of non-stop class II+(III) rapids for over a mile. There are about ***10 PORTAGE STRAINERS*** in this section. If you want to skip out, take the first take out option. There are two 4 to 5' drops in the middle of this rapid, and the rest is boogie water and small slides.
There are two possibilities for a take-out. The first one is directly after Brown Trout at the end of the steep stuff. You follow an old logging trail up to the road. Park you car at a roadside pull off at the watershed protection sign. From here the walk to the put-in only takes about 10 minutes. The second option is at the mouth of the hollow at the first bridge. The first take-out would be ideal until the wood is taken out of the lower section.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.2||Come on Down||III+|
|0.4||Hold Your Breath||IV|
|0.7||Cliffs of Despair||V|
|0.8||In Her Tube||N/A|
|1.1||Mile O' Smiles||III|
A large high angle slide with a trough running into a tunnel of water, ending in a small hole and boily pool. Can be run most anywhere, could be some crazy move by running up the huge curler.
Be on top of your game for the tricky lead in before you get to a 8-10ft drop into a fast chute.
The biggest falls on the creek, around 10ft. Expect some down time.
A ledgy drop of about 12ft into a boily pool that pushes partly into a severely undercut boulder.
** There is currently a river-wide strainer at the bottom of the last drop** A long fast set rapids with limited eddy access, connected by chutes and fast water. SCOUT FOR WOOD AND GOOD LINES. The first section starts off with a small chute on river left continuing into another small drop with a big hole at the bottom. Then it turns the bend to start the middle section. This starts with a bouldery drop, continuing with some fast water and pin rocks and ends at the top of the big boulder. The boulder is the last drop of the rapid and can be run on either side. The right side is a jumble of boulders that drops about 6' into the undercut side of the big boulder. It is not badly undercut but is still an undercut, so watch out. The left side is nasty, but possible. It is a narrow curving drop into a pool of sieved out rocks, try to stay upright, there is great potential for pinning and injury. It is the final drop an the most consequential. Once you do the first drop there are basically no eddies or areas for recovery.
This drop has been erased from the creek due to a landslide from the strip mine above the creek. A new narrow chute runs down river left through the laurel thickets.
A large slide with a frothy line down the middle.
A 6-7ft boxed in drop with a sticky recirculating hole at the bottom. Two trees block the lines.
Continuous Class III for around a mile with a couple 5' falls in the middle. There are currently 10 river wide strainers.