18 mile Kentucky River Paddle - Camp Nelson to High Bridge

Rating: Advanced, Medium River, Low Flow, 18 miles, Moderate Pace, Full-service campground and other lodging nearby if you want it

This is an advanced trip!  Paddle 18 miles from Camp Nelson to High Bridge on the Kentucky River. Takes you through the 'Heart of the Palisades', the best section of palisades on the Kentucky River, a flatter section around the Jessamine Creek area, back to palisades around the Dix River and High Bridge Area. Passes by a Great Blue Heron rookery (around 50 nests), Tom Dorman State Nature Preserve (SNP), Jim Beam NP, Jessamine Creek NP, Crutcher NP, and Sally Brown NP.

Very long and challenging trip. Has taken strong paddlers in long boats 5.5 to 6 hours to complete (because of the long shuttle, I'm enforcing a max of 6 hours). Its 12 miles to the usual lunch stop.  Maybe one or two other stops after that. Not a trip for beginners or rec. boats. Recommend you have done several speedy (4mph+) 10-12 mile trips this year before attempting this. Shuttle is 30 minutes one way.

Put-in at the Camp Nelson ramp under the US 27 Bridge (the lower old bridge is not open, so make sure you come on Camp Nelson Rd -which is sometimes referred to as Old Lexington Rd -from the south side of the river). Honor box fee is usually $3. Meet there at 8:30 to drop boats.  Will run shuttle over to the High Bridge VPA Ramp (appx. 602 Lock 7 Rd, Wilmore, KY), so on the water before 10AM.

River charts (we'll be on charts nos. 19,18,17): http://finance.ky.gov/about/Documents/KentuckyRiverNavigationCharts2011.pdf

Some points of interest in the Jessamine Co. Ky River Guidebook (we'll be starting at Marker 19 and going almost to Marker 5): http://www.jessamineco.com/river/guidebook.htm

Liability Waiver - By joining in this event you are acknowledging that you and your guest(s) have read and agree to abide by the Bluegrass Canoe and Kayak liability waiver. You can find this waiver on the Bluegrass Canoe and Kayak web site, at:

http://www.meetup.com/Blugrass-Canoe-and-Kayak-Group/pages/Legal_Waiver/

If you do not agree with said liability waiver, don’t show up!

 

 

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  • Tim

    I realize the event is over, but I had a quick question for Don. Is it possible/permissible to camp anywhere along this stretch of river? If so, where...if not where might be a good place to do something like that?

    July 29

    • Don P.

      I have known people to do it, but I have no idea if its permissible. My suggestion is up Jessamine Creek somewhere. Its sort of the halfway point, and the last time I looked, Jessamine Co owned that part closest to the river. Most other places are privately owned, or owned by the Nature Conservancy which usually forbids it. Also, you need a good place to get out of the river. Most places its pretty steep and can be muddy. I've been up Jessamine Creek, and there is a good place to get out (at least when the river is not up like it is now), just never really looked for a camping spot. Hopefully, you saw the posts below about the ramps at Camp Nelson being abandoned. Would be tough to get gear down any of the put-ins unless they've cleaned the ramps.

      July 29

    • Tim

      Thanks for the info!! I'll be sure to check into ramp conditions and look at the Jessamine creek area.

      July 29

  • Maryellen S.

    My first time on the Kentucky River and it didn't disappoint! Even though not ideal, very thankful we found a place to put-in down river in the primitive area of the Camp Nelson RV Park. Thanks, Don, for organizing and for providing the additional historical information on the site to read prior to the paddle and looking for the markers made the 18 miles seem like...well, 18 miles, but very enjoyable! =:-) The palisades are absolutely a wonderful part of this beautiful river, and I hope I am able to come back next year! Especially enjoyed the campout overnight in the quiet park of the RV park. Beautiful weather and enjoyed meeting new people with the same passion for paddling.

    June 17

  • Teri

    Wonderful! Great people, fabulous weather, and beautiful scenery.

    June 7

  • Don P.

    Thanks everyone who attended the Ky River Death Paddle. I think everyone survived. Turned out well even though we had to use a makeshift carrydown that Maryellen worked out for us to use down to the water. Couldn't have asked for better weather. 7 total counting the group from LACK. Took about 6 hours - had a small current. Shocker was seeing someone at our lunch spot, 12 miles from Camp Nelson, 6 miles from High Bridge, just sitting on a log, no boat to be seen. Then he called out my name! He was sitting in the shadows, so I could tell who it was, so I asked. It was Obie. His boat was around where I couldn't see it. He had paddled up from High Bridge and gotten there about 15 minutes before we did.

    1 · June 7

  • Greg C.

    Have to bale hay for the horses. Will have to catch the next one. Hate this because I have been down this section of the KY and it is awesome.

    June 6

  • Don P.

    Maryellen says the ramp we use is totally encased in mud. Still meet up there, and we'll probably have to go to the campground and do a walkdown. She says that is much more doable.

    June 6

  • Maryellen S.

    Don please call me; I sent you a PM w my #

    June 6

    • Don P.

      I tried, you may be out of range. Ramp we use is right underneath the US 27 bridge.

      June 6

  • Maryellen S.

    Teri, please call me. I sent you a personal email with my phone #. Thanks!

    June 3

  • Don P.

    One last reiteration that this is an advanced trip. That means no sweeper, and we usually do a comfortable long boat pace of around 4mph until lunch (3 hours). If you can't keep that up, you will be left behind and must be OK with that, There's a chance I'll have an acquaintance that lives out of town now that may do the trip in a surfski. He'll be leaving us in the dust and doing the trip in about 3 hours if anyone is interested in keeping up.

    June 2

    • Maryellen S.

      That trip is about 23 miles with pretty decent current until you pass Green River Ferry, then it really slows down. Let's hope for a little rain :) Otherwise, it'll be a great work-out!!

      June 2

    • Don P.

      Best you can hope for is about 3/4 mile/hour current on the Ky before its too high to paddle. A lot different from the Green's current, but welcome.

      1 · June 2

  • Larry G.

    Did eleven miles yesterday on the Elkhorn (very busy place) and 18 sounds too long for now. I prefer to stop and smell the roses rather than see how much water I can cover in one day

    June 1

  • Sarah

    Going out of town, have to catch the next trip!

    June 1

  • John L.

    Just joined. Got a great canoe but this might be a bit too far for the first trip this season. It sounds great though.

    May 24

  • dan b.

    Cancelling, got to attend a 3 year old granddaughter's birthday party. I guess a guy is expected to keep his priorities in line. This was going to be a bit of a challenge after kayamping on Dale Hollow Lake all week anyway.

    May 19

  • Kimberly

    Will anyone be camping that weekend?

    March 30

    • Maryellen S.

      Oh, ok. So someone give me the name of the campground that is nearby, please. I'm not familiar with the area at all. Thanks.

      May 19

    • Maryellen S.

      Never mind...just found it on the map. Thanks

      May 19

  • Don P.

    For those of you who have not been on this section of the Kentucky: The reason this trip is so long is that there are no other takeouts that would reduce the distance. There are also no roads, lots of 300 and 400 ft cliffs, and no way out except to either paddle back to the put-in or keep going to the takeout. That also keeps the motorized traffic down and make it seem like a more remote section of river than it actually is.

    There are only a few rock bars along the way to even get out of your boat and walk around a little.

    The heron rookery is quite a sight, and a little pick-me-up at about the 13.5 mile mark. I think Tina said there were 60 nests last year. The chicks will be quite large at this time. You can do a shorter trip (9 miles total?) to see it if you just do an out and back from High Bridge.

    1 · January 4, 2014

    • Jerry C.

      I am interested in going, and would be happy to help organize, but I can't lead it - I have zero experience. So, someone with experience would have to step up to lead.

      May 6

    • Don P.

      Main thing about 'leading', which is really 'hosting', is to get it on the calendar - to pick a specific time and place. Can copy some of the descriptions from some of the past meetups that were the same trip.

      May 7

  • Dick W.

    Do to unforeseen circumstances I'm going to have to change my RSVP I hope you all have a great time.

    March 30

  • Karen

    I really want to do this...so bad I can taste it! I have kayaked stretches of flat water up to 6 hours but I am not sure I have the muscle mass needed at this time to do this one. I got a necky manitou13. May not be long enough. If anybody else joins who is in my strength category..I will try it!

    1 · March 5

    • Maryellen S.

      Karen, I am going to try and borrow a longer boat for this one even though I can paddle flat water all day long without a problem...my only concern would be that of being able to keep up with the long boats in my Santee, even though I'm a strong paddler. Kayaks are designed to top out at certain speeds no matter how strong a paddler you are or your proper paddling technique. A long boat is built for speed and gliding through the water with less effort than a shorter boat. It is what it is...

      1 · March 5

  • Michelle W.

    I'm christening this one "Don's Death Paddle". Will most likely try it if I get some conditioning time in before hand. Not going to RSVP yet though.

    January 3, 2014

    • Don P.

      I always have to work on my forward stroke technique and efficiency in the spring too. Find someone like Tina who has a really nice stroke to copy - there is a lot less arm bend, more torso rotation, and a higher paddle angle than most people use which causes you to reach out farther towards your toes, start the blade really close to the boat, and pull it close down the side of the boat, and finish up right at the hip. You want to feel like you are planting the paddle blade and pulling the boat ahead instead of using the blade to push water behind you. The more you let the paddle get out to the side away from the boat, the more you are losing power to torque the boat to one side or another instead of going forward. And the more you use the big muscles in your back instead of your arms, the longer you can paddle. Make sure you are snug in the boat too. You can waste power by not having good contact at the feet, thighs, hips, and seat.

      1 · January 3, 2014

    • Maryellen S.

      You are so right! Great paddling technique allows one to paddle further without the effort and wear and tear on your arms and shoulders.

      January 5, 2014

  • Dan G.

    I have a ski club conference that day

    January 3, 2014

    • Dan G.

      Don- Don't change the date because of me. i would like to go, but pick the date that works best for the group

      January 3, 2014

    • Don P.

      I'm not. Meant to say an additional time - outside of meetup.

      January 3, 2014

  • Maryellen S.

    I have a short boat of 12.6 ft. and am quite comfortable doing the mileage in it...but maybe borrow a long boat for this one. Love long distance paddling and have always wanted to paddle this area. :)

    January 3, 2014

    • Maryellen S.

      I'm used to paddling long distances; I consider it great training to do the longer mileage in a shorter boat. I have participated in Great River Rumble the last 2 years...2012 we paddled 156 miles in 7 days, 4 days in over 100 deg. temps, and tent camping at night on the Missouri River; 2013 we paddled 111 miles in 7 days on the St. Croix & Mississippi Rivers. But I can always borrow a longer boat for that day, but I like long distance paddling. It will be great training for the GRR later this year on the Wisconsin/Mississippi Rivers. :) Looking forward to it!

      January 3, 2014

    • Don P.

      You shouldn't have a problem. Everyone has to judge their own fitness for it.

      1 · January 3, 2014

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