Gilbert Creek has been overlooked by central Kentucky paddlers, probably due to its small drainage. That's too bad because this little stream has a lot to offer, it's within easy striking distance of Lexington, and the shuttle is a breeze.
The creek starts fast and furious and never lets up, limestone ledges are featured from top to bottom. Because of its size and steady gradient there are very few eddies. Take advantage of the shuttle to scout where you can. There are many trees to avoid and it is likely that you may encounter deadfalls. Boat scouting is possible but everyone in the group will have to fend for themselves. What eddies there are will fill up quickly with one or two boats. This is not a creek for beginners.
That having been said, be ready for play spots at any time. There are numerous surf waves and ledge holes the length of the run. If in doubt at any of the larger ledges go left where the current flushes out. The largest of the ledges is a four-foot sloping ledge with a tongue on the left followed by a quick right turn. It can be seen from the road and is located just below a private bridge half way through the run. At about two miles there will be a small creek entering from the left. Gilbert Creek will narrow and begin to accelerate down a fifty-yard stretch with constant gradient. Every ounce of the creeks energy will become focused as it enters a large pool (large for this stream). The result is a startlingly large haystack wave that you must crash through. Be alert for the takeout on the left, there is a very bad hydraulic below the low water crossing. If you care to, you can continue paddling for about one quarter of a mile below this point then carry your boat back on the road. Enjoy!
Take-out Elev: 483'
I first ran this stream back in 1990 this may be the first Descent, It is a very small stream that takes alot of rain to run, I will agree it is a fast little stream, it has run in the summer when there has been heavy rains in Anderson County,
Take notice of the low water crossing
that can be seen from the Bluegrass
Parkway. This is a good indicator of the
water level. If the pipes are more than
half full you should be in business.
With the exception of the
above-mentioned bridge pipes there is
no gauge on Gilbert Creek. Look for a
heavy rainfall of two inches or more
during winter or early spring. If Glens
Creek in Woodford Co. is high Gilbert
Creek may be running.
Permits are not required for this reach.
Go one tenth of one mile south of the Blue Grass Parkway on 127 turn East onto Gilbert Creek Rd. Follow Gilbert Creek Road about two miles to the creek. Take notice of the low water crossing that can be seen from the BGP. This is a good indicator of the water level. If the pipes are more than half full you should be in business.
The suggested put-in is approximately three quarters of a mile further down stream where three forks of the stream come together at a private low-water bridge. The road follows the creek for another three miles to the Kentucky River. What you see is what you get. If the creek is running at a good level you will need to stop and park your vehicle where the creek flows over the road at a low-water crossing. Past this point the creek continues a quarter mile further until it meets the backwaters of the Kentucky River.
Lower Gilbert Creek
Spring on Gilbert Creek
Gilbert's in early Spring
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