My longtime friend Dave and I canoe/camped a 14-mile section of Kentucky's Green River from Roachville Ford to Greensburg. This section is about 15 miles below the dam at Green River Lake so the flow is entirely dependent upon releases from the lake. On this occasion, they weren't letting much out so the flow was minimal, but sufficient (205 cfs, USGS Munfordville gauge). The low level and usual over-abundance of gear (two coolers, tent, backpack, stove, camp chairs, fishing gear, etc.) meant that we did have to step out of the canoe 4 or 5 times to walk the canoe through some otherwise scrapy spots, but with temps in the 90's we didn't mind these short wades.
The fishing was excellent - as Dave caught smallmouth and largemouth bass as I paddled. The scenery was pretty to beautiful and the wildlife quite abundant and strikingly bold. We sat beneath a pair of large hawks for 30 minutes, listening to them screech and click, but they never did fly away. We also saw deer, heron, and yellow finches, but perhaps the most striking wildlife were the swarms of cliff swallows that darted all about us as we floated beneath their nests of mud that lined the entire span of two bridges as we neared Greensburg. We also met a friend Saturday night, a local farm dog (Rotweiler) who adopted us and kept us company until we launched Sunday morning. We called him Buddy or Gus, a really nice dog who we believe may have been deaf, but nonetheless he stood guard all night for us. We made camp Saturday night along the inside of a big oxbow bend which was opposite a high bluff - very pretty.
I have paddled other sections of the Green River previously, and wasn't really expecting this to be as nice as the sections inside Mammoth Cave National Park, but I was very pleasantly surprised. It was beautiful and private, without the hassle of having to obtain a backcountry permit and all the restrictions that go along with Park camping.
This section isn't exactly remote, as there are soybean fields and other farms and residences, but everyone we passed was very friendly, including the local canoe livery guy, Mike Daugherty of Green River Paddle Trails (www.greensburgonline.com). Mike shuttled us and our gear for $40 and gave us the golden tip on the awesome campsite. Thanks, Mike!
I'd love to do this trip again when the river is running 300 - 800 cfs (USGS Munfordville gauge). It would be an excellent winter paddle too.
Primitive camping on islands or gravel bars - all on private property - be respectful and ask permission if possible. As always, leave it cleaner than you found it!
My Chiquita Banana boat - a yellow Old Town Tripper (17'2").
Bob Sehlinger's "bible" on Kentucky paddling - Guide to Streams: link to view book
- Trip Duration: 2-3 Day Trip
- Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)