The John Nickell Ramp is the model for what you would want to see at all of the river access points. It has a good size parking area, a nice ramp that is well maintained (cleaned after each river rise and fall) by the county, with good access roads from downtown Nicholasville to the ramp, and is free. About the only thing you’d want to add are some trash cans and regular garbage pickup.
Only problem is that this stretch of river wasn’t as blessed as some of the others with scenery. Downstream is nice in that it is fairly remote with only a few houses/compounds visible from the river and you can go up Sugar Creek farther than most creeks on the river. Upstream is just OK and I tend to do it only when I get bored with all the other locations on the river.
Although I don’t suggest anyone solo paddling, I do tend to do it a lot here. There are usually fishermen about which lessens the risk, but there are times during the week I’ve never seen a soul on this stretch. While I’m mentioning safety, always wear your PFD while in or near the water. One of our high school students drowned while swimming at this ramp within the last couple of years.
There is an almost as nice ramp directly across the river that is technically in Garrard Co, but is right at the Madison Co line. If you’ve got friends over in that area, its a good spot to meet for a paddle.
– Don Perkins