your paddlesports destination

Lake Linville in Kentucky

Trip Overview

Escaping into large excitement on a little lake

I dont go into Lake Linville very often because of its small size. The shoreline is probably less than 5 miles and can be done about 2 hours of good paddling. I really prefer the long creeks and rivers and large lakes with lots of feeder creeks.

But Linville has a lot of GREAT assets. Because of its small size, it is perfect for an off season work out paddle. Like today. It has great access being right on Hwy 25 and Interstate 75 being its dam. The lake also has some gentle shorelines that you can drive right to the waters edge and put in, rather than paying a launch fee at the marina. And its fairly close to my home.

I wanted to paddle today, but the weather was calling for a squall line that had created dangerous storms and tornadoes in the states it had already passed through. It was due to be in our area by late morning or early afternoon. I knew Curtis would want to go anyway and I am just too old to go more than a week with out a paddle work out. So we headed for Linville and were in the water by 9:30 am.

It was already windy and creating a chop of about a foot. We put on our skirts as the wind was in our face and throwing spray over the bow of the boats. Despite the time of year, the air temperature was in the low 60s and rising. The spray was not a problem, but more of a spice to the paddle. We must have gotten blown back several hundred yards in the time it took to put the skirts on.

We put in on the east side of the lake and headed right up the south channel. The paddle was a bit more than a mile and got easier the farther up the channel we got as the enclosing hillside blocked much of the wind. The lake was down around 4 feet of full pool, so the feeder creek at the end was almost non-existent. In the summer pool, there are marshes of Cattails that you can paddle in and a feeder creek that you can paddle a good distance up. Then you can get out and do some short hiking if the fancy strikes you.

With no feeder creek to paddle, we headed back North, then south east towards the overflow pipe and interstate 75. The wind was coming out of the west, so we got a little ride from the gust. We hugged the shoreline that still buffered most of the wind and made it a fairly smooth paddle.

Since the water was down, we were able to get out around the overflow pipe. The pipe is about 20 feet across and has columns that make it look like a Greek pavilion. This pipe did not go down nearly as far as the pipe off the Wood Creek Lake just down the road. You could actually see the crook going under the interstate before the light reached its limit for vision. We imagined you could almost make that run if you hit the bottom upright. Not that we would ever try it! Curtis and I noticed that the 8x8 lumber dangling from cables that usually made a water barrier from the pipe was now suspended about 2 feet over the water. We couldnt pass the opportunity up and each climbed on board of a 10-foot section. They bounced up and down on the cable by about a foot. But we discovered they would swing back and forth and side ways by a very decent arch. Before long, we were bouncing and swinging and playing ramming logs like a couple 6 year olds. It was a blast; I could only imagine what the traffic on I75 must have thought looking into the lake and seeing us swinging on those large cabled timbers. We eventually had our fill and started back down the lake.

By now the wind had picked up considerably and the swells were almost 2 feet tall and a few were white capping. This was great, as they were totally at our back and we didnt have to do any paddling. Our paddles acted as sails and rudders and we were riding the surf. It was just like being in the ocean and riding the waves into shore. We had a good long ride like this and started to witness a phenomenal weather pattern. The wind was picking up large sheets of mist off the lake and propelling them across the surface like a giant wave. We seen a few pass and got caught in one and it was like being in a shower. We also got to see a few twisters of short. I guess you could say they were waterspouts, but they didnt contain enough moisture to consider them waterspouts. Maybe, heavy mist spouts. It was just so neat to witness these phenomena and ride the wind and waves down the lake.

By the time we reached the truck, we didnt want to get off the ride, so decided to ride on down the lake. We both thought that we were biting off quite a bit, thinking we could paddle back up wind. But it was just too much fun to stop. We rode the waves and wind all the way to the marina and turned back. Curtis went to the center to challenge the wind head on and I chose the banks. The wind just kept picking up and breaking over our bows. Pretty soon we were hardly moving, then we werent moving at all, then we were paddling like all get out and moving backwards. I decided it was time to head to shore and walk the boat. Curtis tried a few more moments to beat the intensity of the wind and joined me on shore. We were walking at a 45-degree angle trying to move through the blast, when a wind picked my boat up and rolled it over. Curtis looked up the bank and asked if I was thinking what he was. We beached our boats and walked the quarter mile back to the truck, drove down and loaded up.

I have to admit, this was the most exciting paddle Ive ever had on Lake Linville. I havent had that much excitement paddling since I tried to paddle through a cold front in the Everglades and out in the Gulf of Mexico. And I got that same thrill on a little local lake. Thanks life, you got me again.


There is a Marina that rents motor boats and bait.


Fees are only if you use the marina ramp.


South of Lexington on Interstate 75, exit 62. Go east on 25, pass through Renfro Valley and take first left. Less than 2 miles off Interstate. Pick a spot to launch.
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip