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May 27, 2009

Summer: If you can’t do it, canoe it

Canoeing is the ultimate family experience — if for no other reason than, well, it’s still bonding if everyone ends up in the water.

The Lou-iana area has some great opportunities for chillin’ on the water this summer, even if you have no boat to row.

Saturday, May 30, is a good chance to get your canoe on at Jefferson Memorial Forest. “Canoe Trip on the Floyds Fork” is a five-and-a-half-hour guided tour that starts at 9:30 a.m. At $15 a person it’s one of the cheapest paddling experiences I’ve found. The only thing not included is a sack lunch. Call 368-5404 to register in advance. Space is limited, but if you miss out on this one, no worries — they’ll be offering two more canoe trips later in the summer. (www.memorialforest.com)

If canoeing isn’t your style, or you’ve always fancied yourself more of a captain, iron that sailor outfit for June 13, because your ship has arrived: The “Learn to Sail” clinic is held at Cox Park, and it’s totally free. There are three sessions: two youth, one adult. It all begins at 1 p.m. Go to www.saillouisville.org/rccsp for the 411.

If you don’t mind driving a bit, Cave Country Canoes in Milltown, Ind. is your boat. It’s about 45 minutes from Louisville, and is — in my humble opinion — the smart choice. Cave Country Canoes has a couple packages for groups of 12 or more, one of which combines canoeing and caving (epic!). Half-day trips for groups under 10 start at $22 a person for canoes and $28 per kayaker. If this seems a bit pricey, have no fear: From discounts with proof of gas receipts to Military Day, they have all kinds of weird, wild specials. Campgrounds, caving and paintball are just some of the nearby attractions, if you want to turn this into a romantic weekend. Cave Country Canoes offers far more fun than I have space, so go to their user-friendly website www.cavecountrycanoes.com or call 1-888-702-387 for more info.

Canoe Kentucky, located in Frankfort, is just over an hour from Louisville. You don’t need to know your stern and bow to have fun on their Elkhorn Creek trips; they have half and full days designed for all levels and preferences, including those who like to whitewater it. Most of these trips are open to kayaks and rafts as well, and start at $45 a canoe. New this year are excursions on the Kentucky River and “Paddle in the Park,” a great alternative for those who want to be in a boat more than they want to paddle, or who don’t have much time. Canoe Kentucky also offers trips led by one of their fearless leaders, if that’s more your style. “Frankfort by Moonlight” is only $30 a person. And, ladies, if you’re in the mood for a night out, you should check out “Sisterhood of the Traveling Kayaks.” This is a ladies only night, gentlemen, happening May 28, June 4, and June 11. For all the details go to 1-888-canoe-ky, or www.canoeky.com. Also, www.paddling.net is a good resource for other places and trips. —Kate Welsh