Cumberland River

The Cumberland River flows through the heart of the Daniel Boone National Forest and offers great canoeing and rafting opportunities. It is also known for the Cumberland Falls, which divides the river into two distinct segments. The 16.1-mile section from Summer Shoals to the backwaters of the Lake Cumberland has been designated a Kentucky Wild River.

Upper Cumberland River

KY 204 at Redbird Bridge to KY 90 at Cumberland Falls State Resort 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
  • MILES: 17
  • HOURS: 24 hrs.
  • 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 as 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 the 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.

  • CLASS: III
  • MILES: 11.6
  • HOURS: 4-6 hrs.
  • SEASON: All
  • SKILL LEVEL: Intermediate, Advanced
  • PUT IN: Below Cumberland Falls
  • TAKE OUT: Mouth of Laurel Boat Ramp




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