Creek News

Upper Harrods Creek Water Quality Monitoring Report

Here is an overview of the report. Click here to download the complete presentation of the water quality report, as prepared by Eco-Tech Consultants, Inc., Louisville, Kentucky.

Monitoring Summary

  • Monitoring completed on 5 dates from September 24 –October 23, 2014
  • One sample date was a wet-weather event
  • Data Collected at all sites on all dates
  1. Temperature
  2. Escherichia coli
  3. pH
  4. Total Nitrogen
  5. Specific Conductivity
  6. Total Phosphorus
  7. Dissolved Oxygen
  8. Total Suspended Solids


  • Dissolved Oxygen above action level at all sites but UH-5 and UH-6.
  • E. coli colony concentrations were above action level at all sites except UH-6.
  • Specific Conductivity was measured in the high benchmark category at each site.

Please contact us for more information on this report, or to get involved to help improve this watershed.

Paddling the Darby Creek Section

Highway 53 — Cover Bridge Road

This is, likely, the best stretch of the river. It is long, due to the poor access point at Hwy 1694. The total length is 10.6 miles. Most of it is moving water, as you can really only paddle this after a big spring/fall rain (or a summer deluge). I’m not aware of any gauges on the river but my rule of thumb is if the water is brown and it looks like you could get down the first rapid without dragging, you’re good to go. I went 32 hours after a record breaking 7” rain so this probably doesn’t run too many times during the year.

FullSizeRender 2This section starts with some meandering class II rapids. The gorge deepens and narrows and you start to enter a beautiful section with rocky bluffs lining the river. They may not be visible in the summer months, but are spectacular when the leaves are down.

waterfallThis section has a few deep pools of flat water mixed by class II rapids. The rapids are more mild than the 53/393 section. You need to watch for downed trees, but you have good visibility in each rapid to get out if you need to portage a strainer.

After the cliffs section, the gorge widens and some lush bottomland starts bookend the river. Occasionally a larger spring will enter the creek from one side or the other, which would create an even larger flat bottomland section.

FullSizeRender-4This, very remote stretch of river, has over a dozen waterfalls along the river and almost the same number of heron rookeries. If you see a wet water spring entering the creek, follow it back to the bluffs and you’ll see a nice waterfall or cascade.

One of my favorite sections splits the river around several rock bar islands. I called it as “Z-maze rapid,” although to a whitewater boater, it isn’t much of a rapid. You get to pick and navigating you way down several narrow serpentine rivulets. Another notable rapid after this is one I referred to as “Big Beaver Island”. It had a huge woodpile that blocks most of the river. This would be a great summer fishing spot as there are several nice undercut banks and wood structure to house big smallmouth.

FullSizeRender-10The best part is I didn’t see a single sign of man, aside from the occasional debris that washed downstream, until about 3.5 miles downstream when there is an old stone culvert on river right. About 200 past that I saw a few “No Trespassing” signs, but still, no buildings, fencing or other references of man. The only houses you see is one at the put in and one as approach HWY 1694. However, after you pass 1694, that changes as the river passes several McMansions.

FullSizeRender-4After Hwy 1694 the bluffs widen and soften and there are little or no rock formations at the rim. The river widens but the added water from Darby Creek fills it in where we still managed to make it down without scraping too much. Some sections require you pick the right path so you don’t ground out, but follow the current and you should be fine.

There are some rapids that end into what feels like a mile of flat water. Its a massive pool that takes some time to paddle through. After a while, the current picks up again and, although there are more pools, this is the longest one.

FullSizeRender-2There is one notable rapid. It is likely the toughest of the entire section, but it is sill only rated class II. I named it “Dos Piedras” (two rocks) as the current narrows and pushes into two slightly undercut rocks. Portage around it on the island and you’ll avoide dumping your canoe and gear.

From there the current keeps moving as you circle around the backside of Nevel Meade Golf Course, and you pass several nice houses as you approach Cover Bridge Road — takeout is on river left.

Visit this link for additional Harrods Creek paddling information.

Creek History – The Last Record of Native American Activity in the Harrods Creek Watershed

Lilburn D. Magruder’s (1868-1960) pioneer family settled in the Harrods Creek watershed and Lilburn penned some of the stories that he heard as a little boy about Harrods Creek. One of those included the last Indian raid as follows:

The pioneers from Maryland and Virginia that settled around Harmony Landing had plans to form an ideal community, building a place for Divine Services with nearby buildings for “The Academy” to educate children.

The first necessity was a supply of pure water. None being “in sight” the “water witch” was called to solve the problem with a fresh cut forked limb from a young sapling tree.

It was customary for travelers to register at the store, and also to leave letters to the folks “back at home”, telling of the progress thus far on the westward journey.

First an area was tried where water was wanted to be found but the forked limb failed to function. Then in a ravine 200 feet away at one particular spot the forked switch became agitated, bowed down. When held in a tight grip, the limb made six profound bows, indicating water was available in quantity six feet below the surface.

When a large excavation was made to the depth of six feet, there was a stream meeting all requirements, a deep pool was lined with stones, a rock wall laid from the bottom to above the surface with stone steps making easy access to the pool where a bucket could be filled at one dipping.

This stream came to the surface 400 feet away and trickled across a wagon trail for 100 years. In later years this trail later became U. S. Hwy. 42 and the “spring branch” that supplied water for many for so long, was honored with a concrete culvert under the highway. The small stream then merrily ran, crossing a pasture in front of the residence (of Mr. Charles Bottorff ) , and continued its journey to its destination in the Ohio River at Harmony Landing.

About 1798, near the excavation of the spring, a store was located at this point, and a new trail was opened to pioneers going farther West. The store with supplies, and the nearby abundance of pure spring water, made an attractive place to camp and rest before tackling the unknown far West regions.

It was customary for travelers to register at the store, and also to leave letters to the folks “back at home”, telling of the progress thus far on the westward journey. Such letters would often be picked up by travelers returning home to the East, and carry them back to the pioneers origins. These pioneers traveled on foot, on horseback and at times in covered wagons, pulling entire families that banded together with other families for mutual company and protection, thus making a caravan.

One night the caravan was attached by a band of roving Indians…

One such group camped, several days at the outpost by the spring. At night the wagons formed a hollow square, oxen tethered at the center. One night the caravan was attached by a band of roving Indians who were repulsed by the pioneers but in the fight, a member of one of the families, a little girl, was killed.

This bereavement caused the campers to shorten their stay. A deep grave was made, and the body of the little girl was laid in the ground, then the travelers turned their backs on the past. The record at the store showed the heart broken family was named Huckleberry, hence in memory of the little girl, the stream was named Huckleberry Creek.

So it is to this day, there is a spring of fresh water, 100 feet from the rear end of the Goshen General Store which continues to be the beginning of Huckleberry Creek.

Historic records provided by:
Nancy Stearns Theiss, PhD
Oldham County Historical Society