Cumberland, Clover Fork, Kentucky, US
Ky. State Highway 38 to Main Street (The Tunnels )
||II+(III) (for normal flows)
Photo taken 12/20/09 @ 1430 cfs
CUMBERLAND RIVER NEAR HARLAN, KY
1400 - 7000 cfs
Probably too low for a good whitewater experience. Reference gauge (main Cumberland) is merely an indicator of possible runnable conditions. Firsthand inspection will be necessary.
The Clover Fork is one of my favorite runs, it is where I first learned to paddled whitewater. It
is very forgiving at lower levels and is pushy at higher flows. If you paddle the Clover Fork
please leave a comment in the comment section, thanks. Its best to do this river the day or next
day when the gauge rises, the flow will decrease after a couple days even if the gauge is at the
There is a small place to park a couple cars at the put-in, on the side of the road. The people
who live across the street have been very friendly in the past so please be respectful to their
neighborhood. From the parking space the river is only 20 yards down a wooded area. Usually there
is a sandy spot to shove off.
The First rapids is Whitfield Shoals (II). This shoal is about
100 yards long with small waves and holes. At higher levels the put-in is back further in the
tree line and the shoals get more choppy with a few offset holes. After the shoals, a wave train
will lead you into the next rapid.
Bounce the Baby (II). This is a rocky slide type rapid that can be run anywhere.
The best lines are river right, down a wave train, or river left, a more technical rocky line.
Watch out for tree limbs on this one.
After Bounce the Baby there are two miniscule shoals before the entrance to the tunnel.
In (II). This rapid leads you directly into the far right tunnel. Once you
commit to this rapid there is no turning back. Make sure you scout this one for wood, look all
the way through the tunnel also. This rapid as similar to Bounce the Baby, but with a surprise
play hole in the middle of it.
The Tunnel (I). There are four river diversion tunnels that run underneath a
spur of black mountain. The three on river left are NOT worth running, due to restricted flow. I
only recommend the far river right one. The insides are coated with spray concrete. The bottom is
a smooth as silk, due to the poured concrete slabs that run the entire 1/4 mile length. They are
roughly 30'x30'. No rapids occur inside of the tunnel. Only before and after. There is just
enough light to see all the way through. The ride in the tunnel is fast (only lasting about one
minute) and can be choppy.
Directly on the other side of the tunnel is Out II+(III). At lower levels, when
not running the whole stretch of the river, this is a great park-n-play. Any playboater can enjoy
this 30' wide hole at low to medium levels. At a high flow, Out becomes a large slide, with a
small wave at the tip (river right), and a nasty hole on river left. There are usually a few
standing waves exiting after the V-shaped slide. A very strong feeder eddy exists, and will pull
a boater into the nasty hole. The higher the water the stronger this eddy will be. It is nice at
med-low surf level for getting to the hole. When the river right tunnel is at raging V-shape
formation, the river left tunnel will have a sticky play hole, great for basic playboating moves,
but too shallow for any aerials. The eddies are strong and squirrely.
Once you are done, paddle over to the river left bridge pylon and walk up the hill 30 yards to
the take out. For the take out you can park on the side of the road, I wouldn't recommend parking
on the bridge.
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Last Updated: 2010-02-16 16:10:19