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Getting on the water: Tygart Creek focus of Trail Town projects

By: Jeremy D. Wells

Carter County Times

 If you want to kayak Tygart Creek, and are wondering what water levels are like without driving over and looking, you have a new tool to help! 

Olive Hill Trail Town representative Jesse Oney told the Olive Hill Chamber of Commerce last week that there is now a United State Geological Survey (USGS) water gauge on the creek at Olive Hill. The gauge keeps track of water levels and uploads the data in real time to the USGS website. By visiting the USGS website and searching for Tygart Creek in Kentucky, or directly entering site number 03216777, you can find the current water levels, as well as view water level trends over various periods of time. 

The gauge could be a valuable tool for those from outside the area who want to plan a kayak trip down Tygart Creek and want to know when water levels are high enough to make the trip. But it may take a couple trips down the creek before kayakers know what water levels are best for a smooth trip. 

Carl Burton, with Friends of Tygart Creek, said because depths vary along the length of the creek that just because it’s deep enough to put in at Olive Hill doesn’t mean it will be deep enough to kayak all the way to Carter Caves without portaging over low water areas. Burton said it will take making a few trips, and comparing the experience against the water level readings, to determine what the ideal level at Olive Hill is for a smooth trip. Burton said he will be making use of the tool though, both for planning cleanup trips with the Friends of Tygart Creek and for guests of his Opossum Hollow Properties who want to kayak. 

Oney said that there was a gauge on the creek once before, but it had not been functional or monitored for some time. While there were estimates of creek levels at Olive Hill, he said, those were based on past seasonal trends and water levels measured by a USGS gauge along the creek in Greenup County. With the purchase of the new gauge, he said, kayakers, fishermen, first responders, and others curious about creek levels can get more accurate real time data as it’s processed instead of relying on estimates. 

You can check the water levels yourself by visiting waterdata.usgs.gov and clicking on the map. From there you can search by the location name or by the site number, 03216777.

Once you’ve checked those levels, and you’re ready to launch your kayak, Oney has more good news for you. The city will be installing a new small boat launch into the creek this year, he told the Chamber. This will improve access for those who want to start their kayak trip from within town rather than at the Devil’s Backbone put-in. 

Oney also discussed ideas for a new walking trail along Tygart Creek, from within town and heading west along the creek. Oney and Stevie Clay noted that other towns with walking tracks see significant use of them. In addition to helping revitalize downtown areas by increasing foot traffic, they also provide those seeking light exercise a safe place to walk without worrying about automobile traffic. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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