If you only paddle one spot on the Kentucky River, this is the one most people would recommend. Its got just about everything. It has fhe man-made wonders of Dam 7, High Bridge, and the dam on the Dix River that forms Herrington Lake. It has the natural beauty of the palisades and waterfalls on both the Kentucky and Dix Rivers, and a lot of wildlife if you are very patient and know what to look for. You’ll usually see a lot of canoes and kayaks here on weekends, along with the fishing boats.
Deposit your ramp fee in the blue metal box that is welded near the tongue of the camper trailer on the right of the parking lot as you come in. The ramp is usually cleared of mud quickly after the river falls, and there is a large parking area.
You can see Dam 7 from the ramp, so you can’t go very far downstream. Upstream, past High Bridge, you’ll see the Dix River on the right. If they are releasing from the dam on the Dix, you won’t be able to get up to the ‘rapid’ on the Dix that a lot of people use for a lunch spot, and a lot of fly fishermen use. There is a good stretch of water to paddle above the rapid if you have the energy to portage your boat up there. Or, if you can hit the sweet spot of the Kentucky River being at 3500 to around 6000 cfs and they are not releasing from the dam on the Dix, you can usually paddle up past the rapid without portaging. Just be aware, they can release from the dam at any time, and you need to be prepared for the 1300 to 2000 cfs of water that may come at you.
Going up the Kentucky River from the Dix is not as intimate, but there are a lot of palisades, and once you get past the last house on Dix Dr, its a very remote section of river. One main feature is the Blue Heron Rookery that usually has 60 or more nesting pairs of birds. Courting, nest building and egg laying goes on usually from mid-February for several weeks. Thereafter, the chicks can be seen and grow rapidly to adult size by June. Best viewing is done right before the leaves emerge on the trees. Unfortunately, this is also the rainy season and the river is often times too high to paddle.
– Don Perkins