There are several access points on Crooked Creek that are just minutes from the city limits of Harrison for anyone looking for a short floating adventure.
The biggest issue with most canoeing and kayaking plans is usually the shuttle. Moving vehicles around prior to the float or finding someone to do it can take a considerable amount of time.
Many sections on Crooked Creek are considerably less of a hassle than other waterways.
Silver Valley Road has quick access to a 1.4 mile float on the creek and the shuttle can take less than 5 minutes. This makes an after work trip entirely possible when only a few hours are available before the sun goes down.
The journey begins with a turn going north on 3rd Street off of the 62-65 Bypass and quickly turns into Silver Valley Road once leaving the city limits. After turning off of the bypass, it is 1.8 miles to the first bridge (which is called the first slab by many locals because the road didn’t always have a bridge). This is where the launch access comes into sight with decent parking on both sides of the road. This area was handed considerable damage a few years ago during a flood and the area is currently under repair. However, work is almost done. Access to the water has a newly poured concrete section that is steeply sloped and leads to the area under the bridge where boats can be launched in the creek. Every year the topographic windings of the creek changes somewhat after the spring floods and so do the gravel bars. This year the launch area is very small under the bridge.
Once all the gear is unloaded — paddles, life jackets, trash bag and other amenities that might be desired during the trip — then it’s time to shuttle vehicles. It is only 0.7 miles further down Silver Valley Road to the next bridge (second slab) which will be the take-out spot. Parking is limited at this area as it is a popular swimming hole, but lack of rain hitting the watersheds in the upper part of Crooked Creek this year has sent people to other spots. The smaller than usual beaten-down path to the creek on the east side of the bridge is a tell-tell sign.
This trip is entirely possible to do alone simply because a less than a mile walk afterward can take you back to your vehicle if necessary.
Once the shuttle is taken care of, then the floating journey it ready to begin under the first bridge.
A good pair of sandals or water shoes are highly recommended as the launch area can be very muddy and tracking mud into the boat is less than desirable.
The first decision once on the water is which way to maneuver the drop in the creek which is around 100 feet from the bridge. A few large rocks stick up out of the water and form paths on the left and right side. Taking the left side is straight and runs alongside tree limbs on the bank while the right path has a sharp curve that works its way back to the center of the creek.
The first long fishing hole is straight ahead alongside a tall bluff that stretches over 300 feet down the left side of the creek. The fishing hole can also be used as a swimming hole toward the end of the bluff. There are plenty of places to climb on a small ledge at the bottom of the bluff to jump in the water if conditions are right.
Another curve takes the paddler closer to a large field that is visible the entire float on the right side. Paddlers must take the left side of the curve which has a gravel bar island in the middle. The reason is because of a large tree that was washed up and takes up all the space on the right side of the creek.
Almost every curve of the creek during this stretch is a right turn because the path forms a large horseshoe shape from one bridge to the next.
After the first large curve that runs between the gravel bar off the field and the large green foliage of the trees on the left side, the wildlife and not-so wildlife will begin to come into view. It’s very possibly to come across a group of mallards or other species of dabbling ducks. A crane is common to show the way downstream but will not likely let anyone get very close. A herd of cows may also be commonplace at the water during a hot summer day.
Moving on down the waterway features a long straight stretch with several small drops in the creek with faster moving water.
The next big bend features a turn to the right after passing a small stream that flows into the creek.
Prior to the bend is a large bluff that sets back into the trees and is accessible by foot. The bluff stretches a long way and alpinists will want to wander around the area for many noteworthy photo opportunities.
Once the paddling resumes, a wide stretch leads into a narrow area where many limbs are hanging down and touching the water. The only option is to brave the passage through the limbs and later wipe off the harmless long-legged cellar spiders that come with it. It’s best to get low in the boat and use the paddle as a deterrent to keep the limbs from scraping or hitting the paddler. If it’s possible to keep the boat straight, laying down in the vessel can be an option.
A long fishing hole is the only thing that remains until the second bridge comes into view.
The take out area that works the best is on the left side just before the bridge with the aforementioned small path that leads up to the parking area to load all the gear. Unless of course, you’re by yourself. Then it’s a 0.7 mile walk to the first bridge to get back to the vehicle.