You are about to enjoy some of the prettiest scenery east of the Mississippi. This will give you an idea of the timetable and what you will need to enjoy it to the fullest. Please read carefully and pass it along to your guest, if you signed one up. Since we have a number of paddlers and opportunities for error, I will be emphasizing the most important points in ALL CAPS. Repeat, please READ EVERYTHING CAREFULLY (he wouldn’t be saying that unless prior experience indicated that it was necessary). Your enjoyment/safety and that of the others rely upon your understanding of the directions. Por favor, lea atentamente. Veuillez lire attentivement. Si Prega di leggere attentamente.
Paddle Skills and Trip Difficulty: This is a flat-water, moderate difficulty paddle. The reason for moderate difficulty is that the Saturday paddle is 12-14 miles, and there are very few places to get out. The water should be warm, so no special clothing required (except for rain). Average daytime highs are about 75 and lows near 55. As previously noted, even if no rain is forecast, it’s better to be prepared on the water and off. The water will be a little chilly, so take that into account for a possible swim. You may want to carry a spare set of clothes. Rain does not cancel the trip and is a plus (better waterfalls action). If you plan on paddling under falls, as many of us do for the experience it renders, a sprayskirt is a good idea. Boats are kind of bound to the laws of buoyancy. A sponge or bailer is also a good idea for this.
When on the water, WE WEAR PFDS, AVOID INTOXICANTS AND OTHERWISE PRACTICE SAFE PADDLING. If you’re not good with that, don’t go.
Kayak: It is recommended to have a kayak of at least 12’ length, again, for the longer paddle on Saturday.
It’s about 280 miles to Grayson from Toledo, and another 17.6 miles to the (Saturday) put-in. I’d allow at least 5.5 hours, depending upon where you start and how fast you drive. Everything is easy to find, so don’t worry about that.
Saturday (5/19): Be at the Put-in at 09:30 am
You might want to make a bathroom stop in the town of Grayson, as there are no facilities at the put-in. IT IS BETTER TO BE EARLY THAN LATE because that alleviates congestion in the parking lot and reduces chances of messing up the shuttle with late arrival.
The Saturday paddle requires a shuttle of vehicles (where the take out is different than where we launch)
Directions to the Saturday Put-in: (called Little Carney Creek Boat Ramp) is to take exit #172 off of I-64 to the town of Grayson. From this exit, go south on Rt. 7 about 17.6 miles. When you’ve passed Rt. 885 on your right (just a reference point – stay on Rt. 7), you know you’ll be going over a long bridge in about a half mile. After the bridge, turn right on Rt. 504 and go about two miles to the ramp (it will be fairly flat for about 1.5 miles and then wind down into the creek valley where you’ll see a gravel parking lot on your right). This is the put-in. IMMEDIATELY unload your boat and all gear for the paddle without dawdling (space is limited) and leave your passengers (if any) there, with all drivers then proceeding directly to the takeout.
Directions to the Take-out: All drivers (Not Passengers) should plan on having departed the put-in by 10:00 AM. The take-out is the Greyson Lake State Park Boat Ramp. Go back out Rt. 504 and head back north on Rt. 7 about 5.7 miles and you’ll see a sign for the boat ramp on your right (you passed it on your way from Grayson, so make note of it at that time). This is the take-out. There should be all drivers, and ONLY DRIVERS and vehicles, AT THE TAKEOUT BEFORE 10:30 AM. Being late messes up the shuttle for everyone, so ERR ON THE EARLY SIDE. The shuttle is about a 12-mile round trip.
AT 10:30 AM, WE WILL SHUTTLE DRIVERS back to the put-in. DO NOT LEAVE there (takeout) until 10:30 or as directed by the trip leader. Please be considerate of the fishermen and other users of the facilities by not blocking ramps and access to them. NOTE to drivers: on your way to the put-in, you will pass the takeout (boat ramp) on your left on Rt. 7 after you’ve passed the golf course/campground on your right, or about 12 miles south of Grayson. Noticing this location on the way to the put-in will make it easier to find when you return there after unloading.
We then paddle about 12-14 miles to the takeout, depending upon how much zigzagging you do to catch the sights. Hence, the requirement for a boat at least 12’ long – there are few spots to bail out of the trip, so be prepared to paddle about five hours. If you cannot paddle that distance at a decent pace, now is the time to opt out. Pack a lunch or snack, as we’ll be on the water until around 4:00. However, most of the banks are vertical, so don’t count on dining on a vast meadow. You may be eating in your boat. Plan on a steady pace, although we do a lot of photography on this trip. In a group of this size, we allow for different paces. Move ahead, if you wish, but stay with a sub-group for safety. I’d recommend aligning with a veteran of the trip so you don’t miss any sights tucked away in the coves or make a wrong turn.
When we’ve completed the paddle, it’s a priority to get the shuttle drivers to the put-in to pick up their vehicles. Therefore, DRIVERS SHOULD GET THEIR BOATS OUT OF THE WATER AND BE READY TO BE DRIVEN TO THEIR VEHICLES WITHOUT DELAY, AND VOLUNTEERS SHOULD GET THEM TO THE PUT-IN TO RETRIEVE THEIR VEHICLES (REMEMBER, EARLIER IN THE DAY, THEY DROVE YOU). DO NOT desert those who facilitated your earlier shuttle, even if they are among the last to get in. WAIT FOR THEM TO HAVE RIDES TO THEIR VEHICLES BEFORE DEPARTING. Taking them back has priority over you racking up your boat. Drive first, rack later. With boats racked up and everybody shuttled, we head for the campground. We’ll probably caravan to it, but take these directions anyway. Head back north on Rt. 7 to Grayson and catch I-64 east to the next exit (#179). That will put you on north Rt. 67. Go three quarters of a mile and then left on East Park Dr. (look for the KOA campground sign).
The campsites have picnic tables, but it’s not a bad idea to plan on bringing your own chairs, etc. With the ash borers (beetles) infesting, don’t bring firewood into the state. Park and set up tents, etc. with courtesy to fellow paddlers in mind. Rain is always a possibility and does not cancel the trip. In the past, the campground has opened up their rec hall for us in inclement weather, for those who want to move inside to sleep.
The campground has pretty good bathroom/shower facilities, pool, etc. Shopping, restaurants and other amenities are available in Grayson and closer to the campground. We’ll have a potluck dinner on Saturday night! The campfire is where you’ll benefit from bringing a chair. The camp owners have worked with us over the years to maximize our enjoyment and minimize cost, so treat the property like it’s your own.
Sunday 5/20: We’re breaking camp and rolling out at 9:30 AM (please be READY TO ROLL then). The Sunday Put-in and Take-out is the same – no shuttle is necessary, as this is a six-mile round trip on Clifty Creek. The Put-in is a called Clifty Creek Boat Ramp. The launch ramp is on Rt. 7 about 10 miles south of the interstate on the west side of the road and north side of the creek (if you get to the golf course, you overshot about a mile). We will be caravanning, but with a group of this size it’s best you know the location in case of separation. The entrance isn’t well marked and looks something like a gravel driveway.
PARKING SPACE IS AT A PREMIUM, so position your vehicle to maximize it without blocking others. There is a parking lot at the head of a long ramp. You can unload in the lot and carry (or double-carry or cart) to the water. If you do take your vehicle down the narrow ramp, be prepared for a quick unload so you don’t clog things up. About halfway down the ramp, there are a few “parking spots” to the sides. At various times, they have been marked with “no parking” signs because they are supposedly intended only for turnarounds for fishing boats on trailers. Whether or not the signs are there, you take your chances with the wrath of irate anglers if you park there.
PLACES YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO LOCATE: Fortunately, everything in Grayson is on Rt. 7, or right off it:
- Little Carney Creek Boat Ramp (Saturday’s put-in): On Rt. 7 (west side), 17.6 miles south of the interstate exit is Route 504. When you turn right onto it, it’s another two miles to the ramp. This is the first place you will go on Saturday to quickly unload your boats and passengers before proceeding to the takeout for the shuttle.
- Grayson Lake boat ramp/beach (Saturday’s takeout): On Rt. 7 (east side), 11.8 miles south of the interstate exit. NOTE: This is not to be confused with the main marina at the dam, which you will pass a few miles north.
- Clifty Creek launch ramp (Sunday): On Rt. 7 (west side of the road), 9.8 miles south of the I-64 interstate exit.
- KOA Campground: the KOA campground is located east of Grayson, and you take exit #179. That will put you on north Rt. 67. Go three quarters of a mile and then left on East Park Dr. (look for the KOA campground sign).
READ ALL THIS CAREFULLY (today, while there is still time to get things clarified). By the way, rule number one: the trip leader is the keystone so make every effort to keep him safe, well-fed and hydrated.
Disclaimer: You recognize the dangers and risks involved in this event and accept all risk, loss, liability and responsibility in behalf of yourself, those accompanying you and your heirs and stakeholders, indemnifying and holding all others harmless, including the trip organizer. Your participation signifies your agreement to this (if you don’t agree, don’t go).
My cell is (419)619-1872, but I can’t guarantee reception down there. If you have questions, it’s best to contact me the week before the trip.