Class V Russell Fork, KY

Blue Water Trail (Garden Hole Boat Ramp to Elkhorn City)

The Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River is one mean, determined stream. In the region of the country where John Henry bored railroad tunnels through mountains with his hands, the Russell Fork did the same to Pine Mountain. In the deep past, the Russell Fork breached Pine Mountain through a fault and carved a large horseshoe-shaped canyon right through it, the deepest east of the Mississippi River. The Russell Fork’s assault on 125-mile long Pine Mountain, now called Breaks Canyon, forms the mountain’s northern end. This geologic fight between river and mountain is preserved within the 4,600-acre Breaks Interstate Park, a joint state park between Kentucky and Virginia created in 1954. The Russell Fork’s tussle with Pine Mountain left behind huge sandstone boulders in the bottom of Breaks Canyon, forming some of the most dangerous and challenging rapids in southeastern United States. The gradient in Breaks Canyon approaches a stunning 180 feet per mile. While Class V to borderline Class VI whitewater in Breaks Canyon is only for world class kayakers with extreme skills, the Russell Fork offers two floats that normal kayakers can enjoy. They may also catch some rainbow trout or smallmouth bass. (KYFWR)

Section Details

Trip Length Partial Day, 7.7 Miles
Fishing Yes
Camping Yes
Manager State, Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources
Wild & Scenic No
Water Trail Yes
Partner Information
Description American Whitewater