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Difficulty II-III
Length 5.6 Miles
Flow Range 2000 - 15000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 45 minutes ago ~ 282 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 05/08/2011 11:43 am

River Description

Sinking Creek is a boating adventure that is mostly about walking and paddling through the woods in a seldom-visited location. This run is not for everybody. It involves a 1 mile hike in, 5.6 miles on the water and then 1.3 mile hike back to your vehicle. In return, one will be treated to a handful of class II rapids, some nice scenery and no shuttle.

Big Dog Branch (the stream you actually putin on) has a tiny drainage area and will require heavy rainfall for its showcase drop, The Proverbial Big Dog, to be runnable. If this drop is not running, then putin below it. A few class II ledges lead quickly to the confluence with Sinking Creek. During times of high water, one can put in further up Big Dog at the confluence with Spruce Branch to add one IV/V rapid and one more mile to the run.

Sinking Creek hosts the bulk of this run and is a decent sized creek with a watershed over 40 square miles. The streambed opens up and the forested slopes and cliffs can be seen through the rhododendron. The first four miles of Sinking Creek are flat, with possibly a few strainer portages. In the last mile there are probably a half-dozen class II/III boulder gardens. Shortly below the last set of rapids is the confluence with the Rockcastle. Continue downstream for just a couple hundred yards and get out on the left. Walk up to the dirt road above the river and follow it back to your car.


From I-75, take exit 38 and follow hwy 192 W for 5.5 miles, you will see 552 on your left and you will turn right just past this road, but before the little store. Go around the store and continue west, the road will soon turn to gravel. Stay left at the first three Y intersections, staying on FS119. After a few more miles you will reach a 4th Y intersection where you go right on FS457 (this is labeled as Pond Ridge Rd. in the KY Gazetteer). Follow this to the wide turn-out near the end of the road and locate the Sheltowee Trace hiking trail. This is the trailhead. With a 4wd, you can continue on to the McFadden cemetery to take some of the hiking out, but this is only beneficial if you have a 2 car shuttle.


To reach the regular putin from the wide spot in the road, go left (north) on the Sheltowee Trace on a gravel and dirt road to the McFadden cemetery and continue down the hill to the creek. To reach the Spruce Branch (high water) putin, head right (east-ish) on the Sheltowee Trace and follow this to the creek. There is a sign near the wide spot on FS457.

It is also possible to putin further up Sinking Creek on White Oak Rd. or Dog Branch School Rd. Either of these options would be best suited for an overnight trip continuing on down to Bee Rock.

The takeout, known locally as Jackson Camp, is on the Rockcastle just downstream from the mouth of Sinking Creek. Once on the Rockcastle, float down a couple hundred yards and get out in the first convenient looking spot. Don’t go past the cabin! Hike uphill to the 4wd dirt road and turn left. Follow this up the hill to FS road 457 and turn left. You will be looking at the wide spot in the road.

Rapid Descriptions


Gage Descriptions

Use the Rockcastle gauge as an indicator: if it's over 2000cfs you can probably get down Sinking Creek.  Also, look for at least 0.5" of rain in London.

Directions Description

As described in the main page text, this run involves hiking your boat to the put-in, and hiking back to your car from the take-out. Therefore, the shuttle directions and map below are completely to be ignored. However, you may use the text-entry box to input your home or other starting location to get drive time, distance, and directions to this run. Again, ignore the final steps below in favor of the detail provided in the description.

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Bart Bledsoe




Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1199704 03/26/11 Bart Bledsoe n/a
1199705 03/30/11 Bart Bledsoe reach added
1199729 03/30/11 Bart Bledsoe links
1200018 05/08/11 Rob Clean up errant HTML; enable Directions page.