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Paddle the Cumberland During the Big South Fork River Dash

By Mariah Kline |

Explore the gorgeous Cumberland River this Saturday during the Big South Fork River Dash.

Hey, Kentucky! Join your fellow outdoor lovers this Saturday for a paddle through one of the prettiest parts of the state during the first-ever Big South Fork River Dash.

Presented by The Explore Kentucky Initiative, this brand new paddle sport event will take place on the gorgeous Cumberland River this Saturday, November 12. For avid paddlers and kayak enthusiasts in the area, this will be one of the last racing events of 2016. If you're not interested in racing, just float along with your fellow sightseers and enjoy the stellar views at your own pace.


The course is more than 8-miles long and takes paddlers through the Big South Fork of the Cumberland, where they'll see some of Kentucky's finest gorges and forestland.


South Fork River Dash-6


"We want people to experience the beauty of Big South Fork since not many people know about it," says Gerry Seavo James, director of The Explore Kentucky Initiative. "It has soaring cliff walls, massive boulders that line the river and great waterfalls. You can camp here, and there are mountain bike trails. This area has a lot to offer."


Registration is $35 for a solo craft or $50 for a tandem. Registration will begin at 9 a.m., and coffee and a light breakfast will be served. The races will start at 11 a.m. and wrap up around 4 p.m.


If you don't have your own craft, rentals are available and sponsored by Sheltowee Trace Outfitters. The cost to rent is $22 for a solo kayak or $32 for a tandem canoe or kayak.


Awards will be presented at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Stearns following the race. Each competitor will receive a commemorative coin, a 10 percent discount for dinner at the Whistle Stop and a complimentary ticket to ride the Big South Fork Scenic Railway.


Sponsors include Beinthewater, Southern Paddlesports, McCreary County Tourism and many others. A raffle for some awesome outdoor gear — including a tandem kayak — and other prizes will take place after the race.


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The Explore Kentucky Initiative's mission is to encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty that Kentucky has to offer. The Initiative uses social media, speaking engagements and even cinematography to promote exploration of the many natural areas and attractions that the Commonwealth has to offer.


"We provide outdoor recreation all around Kentucky," James says. "We do guided hikes, paddle trips and festivals — and we're always looking for volunteers to write stories for our field journal."


Visit The Explore Kentucky Initiative's website for more race information, raffle details and to reserve a campsite!


And head over to the shop for kick-ass Kentucky gear!


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