Kayak Kentucky: A different place, at a different pace.

By Shara Sumner @kayakkentucky

I’m a Kentucky girl. And I love this land like the desert loves the rain. I thrive off of it. Our land's geography is so amazingly diverse from east to west and I retreat to it when I need to steady my soul.  I love hiking and repelling the mountains and forests, driving the winding one lane back roads, exploring caves and roaming Kentucky everywhere in between.

It’s in my blood; it’s the earth on my shoes, it’s a part of me.  

I’ve lived here my whole life, and I fell in love with Kentucky all over again this year. I saw her from somewhere new. At a different place, at a different pace. I saw Kentucky from the river.

This spring, I took up kayaking as more than just an occasional adventure. I enrolled in full-on river therapy! To date, I have paddled well over 60 miles of Western Kentucky waters. The natural wonders I've seen on my trips have been awesome and the soul soothing pace has left me wanting more.

When I mention that I kayak, most people get an apprehensive look on their face as they imagine me paddling off 20ft waterfalls or battling raging rapids.

And although I think both of those sound AWESOME and I aspire to try them one day; For now, I am a recreational kayaker.

And Kentucky is where it’s at if you’re curious about recreational kayaking. Which includes anything from paddling a lazy river, swamps, creeks/streams and lakes.

Recreational kayaking doesn’t involve a lot of expertise and skill to get started. After your first trip you’ll easily have a grasp on how to maneuver your kayak on the water and enter and exit your kayak as these two things seem to be the most challenging part for new kayakers. I recommend going out with someone that has some experience to give you tips and advice on what to pack and what to expect for your first time on the water.

 This I promise you, once you get a taste of the peace and independence of paddling, you’ll soon learn to leave all your worries on the shoreline because I have found that the river worries about nothing….it just flows.

Kentucky is a free for all for paddling adventures. Check out the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources for a list of popular Blue Water Trails throughout the state:  http://fw.ky.gov/Education/Pages/Blue-Water-Trails.aspx

Also, I highly recommend what I refer to as my “paddling bible”, A Canoeing & Kayaking Guide to Kentucky by Bob Sehlinger and Johnny Molloy.

I look forward to sharing my paddling adventures from Western and Central Kentucky with you. I hope to give you paddling advice and tips for the beginner and experienced kayaker and clue you in to great river runs, accessible put-in and take-out spots, with shuttle and parking information. Good stuff to keep us all pumped about getting out on the water!