It rises in Gümüşhane Province and runs through the provinces of Erzincan, Giresun, Sivas, and Tokat before flowing into the Yeşil at the modern village of Kızılçubuk, near the site of the ancient city of Eupatoria.
The valley of the last 40 km of the Kelkit before it joins the Yeşil was known by Strabo as Phanaroea (Φανἀροια); he described it as being rich in olives and vines and having the best soil in Pontus. There was a city called Eupatoria in this valley. The eastern end of Phanaroea was marked by Cabira, a stronghold of Mithridates Eupator. In the 20th century, it produced grain, fruit, vegetables, tobacco, rice, and opium poppy.
The Turkish name Kelkit comes from the Armenian Gayl get (Armenian: Գայլ գետ, Kayl ked in Western Armenian pronunciation) 'Wolf River' (gayl + get) and the Greek name Lykos (Greek: Λύκος) is a translation of gayl 'wolf'.
- Aykut Barka, "North Anatolian Fault Field Trip Report", Southern California Earthquake Newsletter (online version), 3:4 full text retrieved 18 August 2009.
- B. C. McGing, The Foreign Policy of Mithridates VI Eupator, King of Pontus (Mnemosyne Ser.: Suppl. 89), 1997. ISBN 90-04-07591-7. p. 6f.
- McGing, loc.cit.
- Antonio Sagona and Claudia Sagona, Archaeology At The North-east Anatolian Frontier, I: An Historical Geography And A Field Survey of the Bayburt Province (Ancient Near Eastern Studies) Near Eastern Studies Supplement Series 14, 2004. ISBN 90-429-1390-8. p. 68, quoting Robert H. Hewsen, Geography of Ananias of Sirak: Aesxarhacoyc, the Long and the Short Recensions (Tubinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients (TAVO): Series B), 1992, p. 153.