Cumberland, Kentucky, US
|Usual Difficulty||III+(IV) (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||11 fpm|
|CUMBERLAND RIVER AT WILLIAMSBURG, KY|
|usgs-03404000||400 - 16000 cfs||III+(IV)||01h04m||1500 cfs (running)|
This is the whitewater section of the Upper Cumberland River. The 10 mile run is Cumberland Falls the Mouth of the Laurel River Boat ramp aka Noe's Dock. Lake Cumberland covers the last few rapids in this section during its summer pool, making the late summer/early fall season as they draw down for winter pool the optimal time to run it. Levels vary, but 705 feet and lower on Lake Cumberland make for all the rapids to be in. This normally coincides with mid-August to September in the drawdown cycle.
In January 2007 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced an emergency drawdown of Lake Cumberland, which is watered by the Cumberland River Watershed. After 7 years and nearly $1 billion dollars the dam repairs were reported by the USACE to have been completed. The lake will resume its normal summer pool level of 723 feet above sea level in Spring of 2014. If you have paddled this river in the past 7 years there are some significant rapids that will be inundated below the pool level, possibly including Screaming Right, Stairsteps, Last Drop and Bark Camp Creek Wash. This will obviously create a much longer, ~4.5 mile flat paddle to the takeout at the Mouth of the Laurel River which takes about 1 1/2 hours to paddle.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|3.4||Dog Slaugter shoals||II|
|7.5||Bark Camp Creek Shoals||II+|
A two tiered drop with large eddies in between. The first being a basic wave/hole leading you straight into the second. The second drop is where it gets its name beacuse of the huge boulder in the middle of the river creating a nice splat/spin spot and pillows. There are currently large tree sized logs in both the right and left sides of the first drop. Boat scout and run in the middle. While the left and right mini slots are sieved there have been reports of the Center Rock itself being undercut but I have seen it at less than 100CFS it is not appearant, proceed with caution.
A pretty straight forward rapid except for the huge undercut on river center-right. The rock is more undercut on each end than in the middle. At most levels over 800 CFS it is a tasters choice, (go where you want), it is shallow across the entire river and the slot on the left of the undercut feeds into it somewhat if you take that line. At low levels right is the only line.
This is a fun rapid but at low water has both a pinning slot and a two-sided broach pin hazard in the middle/main drop. Scout from the river left eddy above the drop or on the left bank and avoid the pin spot by running down the middle. At flows above 12000 CFS this rapid has two incredible holes for big air play right in the middle. During spring its common for the bottom of this rapid to be flooded by the lake and the water coming in from the river. This rapid is fully in when Lake Cumberland reaches 718 ft in elevation
A great first teacher of technicality at lower levels but a humoungus munchy riverwide hole between levels of 1800-2500 CFS. Be careful and scout when this rapid is in. This is the first of the lake rapids that require Lake Cumberland to be below winter pool Screaming right rears its head when Lake Cumberland's pool drops below 717 feet of elevation but the rapid itsel has an additional 4-5 of elevation to completely be in.
A great big water style rapid with several offset holes and one really great catch on the fly wave. Pretty much down the middle and be prepared to punch some holes. Another under the lake rapid untill around the first of August when the lake pool gets down to around 710 feet in eleveation.
A great rapid at all levels but many munchy holes at the bigger levels including a terminal hole in the middle of the river, dynamic boiling eddies and large pillows are common. At medium-low levels river left is the desired route. This upgrades to a IV at levels 5000 CFS and above. This rapid is inundated by Lake Cumberlands summer pool and only comes in during the late summer draw down in mid-late August at 706 feet in elevation.
This rapid is under water and only in when Lake Cumberland pool is below 690 ft. Its a straight forward rapid with a nice hidden surfing wave in the middle.
From the end of the whitewater to the take-out is 4+ miles of flat water depending upon the season and Lake Cumberland's pool elevation. This paddle out takes about1.5 hours depending on the water level. The current can only help you if the river is running 1000CFS or more, with less its a longer paddle.
The Sheltowee Trace Outfitters offers a tow out May - September when they have raft trips.
The take out is at the Mouth of the Laurel River boat ramp. From interstate 75 exit 25 in Corbin take 25W west approx 5 miles to 1193/1277. 1193 turns right and 1277 dead ends at the take out. Click here for a link to the shuttle: Cumberland Shuttle Map