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The Parklands

Paddling Tips for Winter & Early Spring

With warmer weather and longer days, the most adventurous explorers around Louisville look to get back on the water. Floyds Fork is particularly alluring this time of year due to the frequency of times in the spring when water levels are high enough to make for fun paddling adventures. When you couple these great water levels with sudden 60+ degree days, it can feel like spring. But the water temps take much longer to moderate. This means that although you feel warm on the surface, any encounter with water brings the risk of hypothermia. It’s still very much winter on the Fork.

This doesn’t mean you should stay away from paddling. It simply means you need to be prepared. The tips below can help you enjoy these late winter days when Floyds Fork is a great way to get away from the big city.

  • Take a buddy.  Always paddle with a friend.  This is a great way to spend time together, but is also your first safety precaution should something go wrong.
  • Let folks know where you are going and when you expect to be back. Be specific about the route you will be taking on the creek.
  • Be on the lookout for strainers. Winter and spring winds often drop trees across the Fork. As you approach bends and turns in the river, slow down and make sure your route isn’t blocked. The Fork is a wild stream, not a theme park, and managing obstructions and portages is part of the experience for paddlers. 
  • Wear the right clothing. This can go on and on for gear-heads, but generally cotton is your enemy. You want quick drying clothes as an underlayer, and a waterproof layer on top.
  • Take your cell phone, some dry clothes, and hot drinks with you in a dry bag or box. Again, these will make recovery and rewarming much easier should someone get wet.
  • Never ever mix alcohol with cold water paddling. Alcohol slows down your reaction time and tends to lead to poor decision making.

By taking these simple steps, and practicing extra care when on the river for obstructions and debris, you can have a great early season paddling trip on the Fork. And who knows, you may be lucky enough to catch a trout or spot a bald eagle!

Note: Trout in Floyds Fork are under a seasonal catch and release regulation from October 1 – March 31. Stocking & Regulations

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