Play On Gtown's Waterways
By: Kathy Witt
At 285 square miles, Scott County may be small, but its waterways – all 3.7 square miles of them – are mighty. (For comparison: Kentucky’s largest county, Pike, spreads over nearly 787 square miles and has only 1.8 square miles of water.)
Scenic, historic and accessible, Georgetown waterways are recreational hubs that draw visitors for a variety of outdoor activities.* They are also picture-perfect and peaceful, and filled with the kinds of fish that those who enjoy dropping a line love to catch.
Named for its shape of a main stem and two forks as seen on maps, Elkhorn Creek is considered one of the best spots in Kentucky for fishing for smallmouth bass, channel catfish and rock bass. Fishers can pack fishing pole and tackle box and scout out a quiet nook for a day of Elkhorn Creek fishing by visiting Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources and reading up on stream fishing tips.
But fishing isn’t all Elkhorn Creek is about. The creek is a natural beauty and a favorite for floating and padding. It flows nearly 18 miles through three counties, with 13 of those miles in Scott County, which also claims multiple public access points with small boat ramps throughout. The best part? The water is generally calm and flat – making it an ideal outing for canoeing and kayaking newbies.
A prime place for enjoying all that Elkhorn Creek has to offer is at Great Crossings Park, a sun-dappled idyll for wading and splashing at the spillover, swimming, fishing or kayaking in the calm waters of the creek and picnicking, playing and lazing on its banks.
Georgetown’s other waterway, Royal Spring, is marked as the Birthplace of Bourbon. It was here in 1789 on the banks of the spring that the Reverend Elijah Craig distilled those first spirits. Before the territory, part of Virginia at the time, even had statehood, it had bourbon. Not content to simply rest on his spirited laurels, Craig went on to discover that aging bourbon in charred oak barrels imparted complexity and those rich caramel flavors beloved by aficionados around the world.
Present day Royal Spring Park has two historic cabins, a large picnic shelter and decks that overlook the spring. It is one of Georgetown’s best-kept secret fishing spots, specifically for trout. Find the spring on South Water Street in downtown Georgetown, across the street from another famous watering hole, Bourbon 30 Spirits. Here, visitors can enjoy a Reverend Elijah Craig-like experience; that is, creating their very own bourbon blend from more than 100 barrels. They also get to choose the bottle it goes in and pick a name for their custom blend.
Did You Know . . . Elkhorn Creek gets a shout out in Walt Whitman’s epic poem, Song of Myself, published in 1855 in his collection, Leaves of Grass, in this line found in Section 16: “A Kentuckian walking the vale of the Elkhorn in my deer-skin leggings, a Louisianan or Georgian. . .” (By the way, there are a total of 52 sections.)
*Be sure to bring your own equipment on outings to Elkhorn Creek or Royal Spring.
Author: Kathryn Witt
Kathryn Witt is an award-winning travel and lifestyle writer, syndicated columnist and author of several books, including Secret Cincinnati, The Secret of the Belles and Atlanta Georgia: A Photographic Portrait. A member of SATW, Authors Guild and the Society of Children’s Books & Illustrators, she lives in northern Kentucky.