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.
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