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Cool Canoeing

My dancing is so comical that my shoe once flew off and landed squarely between the shoulder blades of someone across the floor. My friends call my style “The Scooby Doo,” after the cartoon dog whose legs flail about wildly when he’s trying to run.

Naturally, when I invited the woman who would later become my wife out on our first date, I wanted to avoid the dance floor at all costs. So, I settled on something completely different: a canoe trip down the Elkhorn Creek in Franklin County. It’s hard to be uptight or anxious about a first date when you’re screaming as you shoot over a series of 2-foot standing waves.

Summer is a terrific time to explore Kentucky’s streams in a canoe. The water is milder and you can slip over the side for a refreshing dip when the temperature climbs too high. Not only can you escape the stress of everyday life, but you’re likely to see all kinds of wildlife and waterfowl coming to the water for a good soak.

Buying a canoe may cost you from several hundred dollars to more than $1,000. Or pick one up cheaply at a garage sale. But for the occasional trip, rent one from the various canoe liveries found throughout the state. A quick Internet search for “canoe rental Kentucky” will help you plan your trip.

My personal favorite canoe runs are Elkhorn Creek in Franklin County, the Cumberland River above Cumberland Falls, and the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. You’ll also find good canoeing around Mammoth Cave National Park, on the Licking River in northern Kentucky, and a wonderful paddle trail on the Green River at Greensburg.

Don’t forget to take your fishing equipment, as canoeing provides great access to some good areas.

A canoe trip is a great adventure for the whole family. In my case, it led to a family.


Find out where you can put in a canoe or just wade a creek with your own copy of Kentucky’s Boating and Fishing Access Sites. This department publication includes maps of all the state’s lakes, rivers, and streams. It’s free by calling (800) 858-1549, or by e-mailing Kentucky Fish and Wildlife at

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