Kayaking McNeely Lake

Kayaking the largest lake in Jefferson County, Kentucky

Boat Launch: 6994 Cooper Chapel Rd, Louisville, KY 40229

Miles: One full lap of the lake is approximately 3.5 miles

Difficulty: Calm water

Fees: Free

Summary: Jump to the summary for a quick breakdown.

There are some places and things in life that instantly take you back to the joys of being a kid and reminiscing about growing up. McNeely Lake Park is one of those places for me. As a kid I lived close by and spent many of my summer days at McNeely. I’ve caught an untold number of Bluegill, worn holes in my jeans crawling through the caves in the woods and caught snakes, turtles and frogs behind the spillway.  If there is one place that takes me back to my youth, it is this lake.

McNeely Lake kayaking, old towne trip10

McNeely Lake Park is one of the biggest parks in the Louisville Metro area and at 46 acres is the largest lake in Jefferson County.  The lake was built by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife in the mid-1950s and turned into a full-service park in the 1970s

Map of McNeely Lake, Jefferson County, KY
Map of McNeely Lake from Google Maps

Entering the park from the main entrance you will find it has a nice boat ramp and small dock immediately on your left. This makes for easy launching of your kayak, canoe or SUP. You will see fishing boats on the lake but they are only allowed to use a trolling motor which makes for a calm lake with no wake.

McNeely Lake boat launch and dock
Boat launch and dock at McNeely Lake Park

Most people leaving the boat launch will head right out onto the main body of the lake. However, if you take a left and head under the overpass, you can head up creek for approximately ½ a mile. Depending on the water level you can make it back to a small waterfall. If the water is low, the small falls may only be a trickle and the waterway getting there will be shallow. It’s always worth checking out though. This section is mostly shaded and is a nice reprieve from the sun on a hot day.

McNeely Lake waterfall

Heading back out to the main lake the water opens up.  The East side of the lake is paralleled by Quail Chase Golf Course and West and South sides are surrounded by McNeely Lake Park.  The lake is largely wide open with a few very small fishing coves.  

As you approach the South end of the lake you will see an earthen dam and spillway. The lake makes a short dogleg left for about a quarter of a mile before the lake comes to an end.

Summary: The lake is an easy paddle making it great for beginner paddlers and for anyone else looking for a pretty setting to enjoy a nice day out on the water. If you are into fishing, the lake is known for its catfish, small mouth bass and endless numbers of bluegill. You will find other animals out on the lake with you. On our paddle today we saw two Great Blue Heron, a small beaver, and numerous turtles.

I hope you get out and enjoy McNeely Lake as much as I have. If you make it out to the lake, let me know what you think. Do you have an idea for my next adventure? Let me know, I look forward to hearing from you.

As always, have fun, take care of yourself, and please be courteous to others out on the trails.

Published by Natural Wanderer


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