This photo needs editing.
Difficulty II(III)
Length 4 Miles
Gauge East and West Hickman Creek Combined
Flow Range 200 - 1200 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 8 years ago 10 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 05/25/2006 11:32 am

River Description

This section offers a number of decent rapids and at approximately 800-1000 cfs has several nice surfing waves. Three of the best of these waves are found just below the put-in and can be a park and surf option by walking back up a small branch just below the last wave. It should be noted, however, that the put-in actually has a series of four waves, with one of the four being a pretty sticky side surfing hole that is typically avoided. Unfortunately, at most levels there is not much eddy access, although better eddy access at is available at the final wave at levels below about 500 cfs.

Note: Recently I have been checking out the put-in waves at increasingly lower levels. There are one or two waves that offer some enjoyment at levels as low as 300 cfs, although it should be noted that "some enjoyment" is a relative description.

Overall, this section offers some good central Kentucky scenery, and the farmland views are similar to those found on Elkhorn Creek. Hickman Creek, however, is not as clean as the Elkhorn and the nice view is occasionally disrupted by trash lining the banks of the creek. It is also disheartening that one of the best high water surfs on the creek is also the site of a makeshift dump complete with floating trash in the service eddy when the water is up. Even with such downsides, this section offers a nice paddle, receives very little traffic, is an excellent training ground for beginner and novice paddlers, and often has at least a scrape after area rain due to the size of the watershed.

Your trip can be extended by putting in further upstream at either Elm Fork Road or at Black Bridge on KY 39, or by taking out at the Kentucky River. However, it is not recommended to put-in any further upstream than the park and surf wave above Elm Fork unless you are interested in a long tandem canoe ride.

KY River=580' Hwy.39=680

Rapid Descriptions


Gage Descriptions

The listed gauge is the virtual Hickman Creek combined and is several miles upstream of this section. However, it typically takes approximately eight to ten hours for the water to reach the put-in, so you must actually go to both gauges (the source USGS gauges) and extrapolate back to the historical reading. In other words, just because the gauge total may only be reading 150 cfs currently (for example) does not mean that the level is too low. Based on past experience, if the gauge has spiked at all above the typical 20-50 cfs on the West Hickman guage then it is worth actually looking at both the East and West Hickman gauge charts to see the historical level.

There is also a painted "gauge" on the upstream side of one of the pillars of the takeout bridge with various symbols for the level. As I remember, there is a fish for lower water, a kayak for decent paddling levels and a bull for a big water adventure. No correlation to cfs readings is currently known.

Note: A new painted "gauge" has been added to the creek left inside wall of the takeout bridge. The new "gauge" is a brown colored horizontal dash, with a crude vertical "1" painted through it. This mark is based on a trip where the water level was approximately nine inches below the mark and was considered slightly above an absolute minimum. The 8-10 hour historical online gauge reading for that trip was approximately 250 cfs. The idea is to use the crude painted mark to eventually add a more extensive and more readable gauge at the takeout to correlate with the online data.

Minimum listed flow is a guess, and at this level the creek will be very mellow and likely suitable for beginners or for scenic canoe rides. Above the maximum listed flow many of the decent waves will begin to wash out and the creek will be in the trees.

Note: The minimum listed flow has been changed from 350 cfs to 200 cfs as of 5-25-06. This change is based on the trip described above where the historical flow was approximately 250 cfs, and on a trip on the section above this reach (from Ky Hwy 39 to Brumfield Lane) on 5-20-06 at a historical gauge level of approximately 80 cfs. The listed minimum is still only a guess, and this section MAY be possible (for the desperate) at levels as low as 100-150 cfs.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports




Greg Woosley


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1193844 05/25/06 Greg Woosley n/a