The Cumberland River Challenge Canoe & Kayak Race is an annual event, hosted by Union College, U- Canoe and Barbourville Tourism. The race consists of 15 miles of river, ranging from calm water to beginner-level rapids. The race starts on the Knox County line bordering Bell County and finishes in Knox County at the Thompson RV Park. Annual “bragging rights” and awards are presented at the end of the race.

In March of 2017, we joined with The Explorer Kentucky Initiative to add The Cumberland River Challenge to The Kentucky Waterman Series as a points race for it’s competitors. The inaugural season will consist of 12 races on Kentucky waterways from all across the state. Participation is required in 4 races in order to receive a ranking in the series. It will be a great way to introduce our competitors to other paddlers from around the state and share the beauty of our area to individuals who have never viewed the Cumberland.After paddling or spectating along the Cumberland River take time to enjoy Barbourville.

Barbourville is a town rich in history with many firsts:

1750 Visit Dr. Thomas Walker State Park and see a replica of the first cabin in Kentucky
1775 First Trails and Roads—The Wilderness Road, Warriors Path and the Daniel Boone Trail known as the Boone Trace all cross in Knox County.
1800 Barbourville is the oldest town and was the largest and most progressive city south of Richmond

1861 Barbourville is the site of the first battle of the Civil War with casualties
1879 Union College, the first college in the mountains

Please make plans to attend a festival or event, visit the Civil War Interpretative Park, Knox Historical Museum, Thompson RV Park, eat some great grub at our own KCBS BBQ Competition, Barbourville Water Park, fish along the Cumberland River or canoe, Hike ‘n Bike at Sandy Bottoms or at Union College’s Turner Outdoor Center, or cruise the night away with our newest event Knox Street Thunder.

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