Until recently, anyone who wanted to canoe or kayak along the Little Sandy River starting at the Grayson Lake spillway had to drag their boat up and down a steep and rocky bank, risking serious injury as they searched for the least treacherous approach or exit along a well-developed nature trail.

Now, thanks to a little help from the Friends of Grayson Lake, a few motivated individuals and a telephone call from a well-connected elected official, getting in and out of the water at the recreation area is almost effortless.

Friends of Grayson Lake’s Sabrina McWhorter credits local business owners and outdoor enthusiasts Matt and Tracy Prichard, for practically everything that has happened to make the waterway from the lake more friendly for canoes and kayaks.

“They are solely responsible for it — we only helped,” McWhorter said, explaining the Prichards gave not only their time and energy, but also supplied the earth-moving equipment to get the job done.

Matt Prichard said he and his wife included plans to improve access to the nearby Little Sandy River were part of their considerations when they bought their store,  Prichard’s Outdoor Shop, on Ky. 7 a few years ago. In addition to working toward the new ramp at the Grayson Lake spillway, Prichard said they were also aware of the need for a good place to take canoes and kayaks out of the water downstream. To address that situation, Prichard donated his time, energy and equipment to develop an easy out at the Buck Farm in the Leon community, roughly 3.5 to 4 hours downstream.

“I’m getting ready to go back down there right now,” he said, explaining he wanted to add more gravel and tend to a few other details at the take-out spot. Prichard said he’s been contacted by a couple of other Carter County property owners along the Little Sandy River who also want to have him help develop additional take-outs farther along the way.

“Somewhere in Grayson we’re going to have one too,” he hinted.

With cold weather behind for the season, Prichard said the store will soon be catering to the needs of those who want to experience the Little Sandy River.

“We’ll have four canoes and 16 kayaks to start,” Prichard said, adding they plan to provide personal floatation vests and paddles as part of the package. “And, we’’ put you in and pick you up.”

With an active outdoor family of his own, Prichard said the Little Sandy River in Carter County provides an excellent experience for casual paddlers and fishing enthusiasts alike.

“It has really pretty 50- to 60-foot rock cliffs,” he said, citing some of the waterway’s attractive features before taking the distinctive tone of an avid fisherman and reporting recent catches including muskie, Kentucky bass and rock bass, as well as trout in the area closer to the Grayson Lake dam. If initial operations along the nearby river go well, Prichard said they will investigate similar services for people who want to paddle Tygarts Creek.

“The fishing is even better there,” he said.

McWhorter said the FOGL group is working to obtain tax-exempt status, and continues to coordinate lake cleanup campaigns each spring and fall with food and T-shirts for participating volunteers. In the wake of the recent harsh winter, she said the group hopes to organize a cleanup effort for the lake’s hiking trails. Long-term goals for the organization include further development of recreational areas at Grayson Lake.

“We would really like to get a beach opened back up — a safe place instead of having people swimming off docks and with boats,” she said, explaining the lake once had beach-style swimming areas at Rockdale and Bruin.

Such designated swimming areas might also help curb the illegal cliff-diving that rangers at Grayson Lake have been actively combatting for several years, she said. The Grayson Lake support group is open and welcomes new members, McWhorter said, inviting anyone interested to attend one of their meetings in  the Grayson Tourism Cabin in downtown Grayson at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. For more information, visit the Friends of Grayson Lake page on Facebook or email sabrina.mcwhorter@gmail.com.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at

tpreston@dailyindependent.com or

(606) 326-2651.

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