Trip Report – Mud Creek – February 17
By Dave Curry

Ben Ferrill (OC-1), Ken Pevahouse (OC-1), Dave Curry (OC-1), Kurt Ruffing (K-1), and three kayakers from Louisville.

Ken had scheduled a trip down the Upper Mulberry earlier in the week.  After arriving at the put-in, we realized that as a result of the overnight rains the river was almost totally blown out of its banks.  On my suggestion, we decided to avoid a high-speed flat-water paddle and look upstream for more interesting water.  We decided to put on the river at Highway 278 just outside Holly Pond.  As Ben and I were driving along the highway, we spied a small creek (Mud Creek) that passed under the roadway through a couple of pipes.  In the spirit of Mark, (“new water is good water”), we were required to check it out.  After a quick examination to determine that we could get the boats down the first hundred yards or so and a more careful examination of the Gazetteer to make sure that the creek ran into the Mulberry, we started unloading boats.

As we were getting ready, a car with kayaks on the roof pulled up and the driver asked if they could join us.  We let them know we were stepping into the unknown but were quite willing to let them come along.  Four kayaks and three open boats ventured off into the void.

At what I guessed to be about 75-100 CFS, Mud Creek proved to be about 2 ½ miles of fun Class I-II paddling with very few obstructions or bottom scraping along the way.  We only had a few logs that required either a contorted “limbo” to get under or a little speed to get over.  The creek’s gradient was fairly constant.  There were two or three good Class II rapids and a number of Class I shoals punctuated with only short sections of moving flat water.  Unfortunately, we arrived all too soon at the confluence with a muddy, bloated Mulberry Fork.

We had about five miles of mostly swift moving flat water punctuated with occasional rapids that consisted primarily of large wave trains.  There were a few trees down in the river that had to be paddled around.  We had a few pretty good waves for surfing along the way.

What started out as a fairly warm day grew colder and colder as the afternoon wore on.  By the time we got to the takeout, I was thoroughly chilled and ready to head for home.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad trip.  At least the Mud Creek section added a little adventure.

To paddle Mud Creek, you need major rains the night before and a level of at least 5000 CFS at the Garden City gauge on the Mulberry Fork.  If the rapid at the put-in on the creek appears to have enough water to run without scraping, the level is adequate.  The put-in is about mid-way between Holly Pond and the Mulberry Fork Bridge on highway 278.  There is no bridge over the creek, it passes under the highway through large pipes.