The Cumberland River flows through the Daniel Boone National Forest and offers great canoeing and rafting opportunities. The river is well-known for Cumberland Falls, which divides the river into two distinct segments. The 16-mile section from Summer Shoals to the backwaters of Lake Cumberland is designated a Kentucky Wild River.
Ky 204 at Redbird Bridge to KY 90 at Cumberland Falls State Park
The take out for this section of river is 200 yards above Cumberland Falls on the right side of the river. Paddlers failing to take out here may be carried over a 68 foot high waterfall. After passing through the right arch of the bridge take out immediately. Do not attempt this section when the river is high.
Most of this section is rated Class I with Class II rapids at Pitch Rapids and the KY 90 bridge. The put in is at the Redbird Bridge on private land. It is a 17 mile trip and is usually done in two days. Camping is allowed in the National Forest, 300 feet from the water. There are several areas of private land along this section of river. Campers should make sure that they are on national forest land before making camp. The Cumberland is a designated State Wild River from Summer Shoals downstream to Lake Cumberland. Take out is at Cumberland Falls State Park.
Class: I, II
Season: Nov. - June
Skill Level: Advanced Beginners
Put In: KY 204 at Redbird Bridge
Take out: Cumberland Falls
Lower Cumberland River
Cumberland Falls to Mouth of Laurel
The river "below the falls" is one of the few white water runs that can be made year round. It is rated a Class III with several difficult rapids that should be attempted only by intermediate and advanced paddlers. It is 11.6 miles from the put in at the state park beach below Cumberland Falls to the Mouth of Laurel Boat Ramp which is within the national forest. The last several miles are flat water. Plan on 4 to 6 hours for the trip. A private concessionaire also runs guided raft trips on this section of river. For more information on guided raft trips, contact Cumberland Falls State Park.
Skill Level: Intermediate, Advanced
Put In: Below Cumberland Falls
Take Out: Mouth of Laurel Boat Ramp