Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lake Barkley Kentucky

Canoeing Lake Barkley

 Lake Barkley

On a recent trip to my Aunt's in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina my husband and I went paddling down the French Broad River. We were hooked! Once home we immediately purchased a canoe, Old Town Sarnac XL and began our canoeing adventures. 

Blue skies over Barkley

For our first outing we chose a quite bay on Lake Barkley not to far from home. Now when we paddled the French Broad we used a John Boat while my Uncle and Step-Dad were in a canoe. I was prepared for the unsteadiness, my husband however was not. I got in first, my husband pushed the canoe out a bit further, and made his entry. Only he didn't sit down immediately and began commenting about how tipsy it was. We were less than three feet from shore and I was about to be dumped into two feet of water with a muddy bottom. I promptly threatened him (Ha!) and told him to sit down, which thankfully, he did. The remainder of the trip was very enjoyable and I knew I had found my new addiction. 

Paddling the bay 

One of the great things about living in Kentucky is it has the second most navigatable waterways in the nation, Alaska comes in first. Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley combine for over 3,300 mikes of shoreline, more than Lake Michigan. Kentucky Lake is actually the largest artificial lake east of the Mississippi River. There are plenty of bays to paddle and feeder creeks that drain into them. There is barge traffic and recreational boat traffic of all types, on both lakes so expect wakes. Staying in the bays lessens wakes from barges but recreational boats explore quite deeply into the bays during Summer pool. These lakes were formed by the daming of the Tennessee River and the Cumberland Rivers, respectively and are major transportation routes to the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. When the rivers flooded, creating the lakes, Land Between the Lakes was also formed. There is a sad and tragic side to the creation of the lakes, but I think an article by David Nickell tells it best, Land Between the Lakes: A Story of Colonialism in Kentucky.

Girls Canoe Day
 We spent many days marveling at the beauty, the wildlife, and the peace and quiet that surrounded us.  I couldn't count the number of deer we seen from the canoe, just yards away on the bank in the forest. I can tell you of the family of otters that we saw one morning. Playing along the shoreline and skillfully dodging us as we paddled near. Fishing from the canoe was amazing and we caught several kinds, large mouth bass, bluegill, and catfish. Watch out for the intrusive Asian carp, they tend to jump out of the water when frightened by motors so a nearby passing boat could stir the huge fish up.

Bridge in back of one of the many bays
It's quite easy finding a place to put your canoe or kayak in, public boat ramps, use areas, and campgrounds abound in Land Between the Lakes. Back country camping is allowed with permit and in almost any location aside from cemeteries of course. There are many roads that were flooded also and lead directly into the water, follow almost any road long enough and you'll find a bay to explore. There are also several small lakes contained in Land Between the Lakes, such as Energy Lake, Hematite and Honker Lakes. Recently the latter two have been unnavigable due to Lily Pads and invasive species.

I can't wait until Spring so we can get the Sarnac back out and explore more of Lake Barkley! I'm especially excited to explore a channel of the Cumberland River named for distant ancestors who once lived in the area.

Happy Paddling!!

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