Monday, April 21, 2008

Kayaking on Southern Lake Eufaula

Kayaking at Hickory Point
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
Dianne and I headed south this weekend for some Eufaula Lake kayaking. If you read our blog much you may know that all of our previous paddling on Lake Eufaula has been on the northern portion of the lake. Eufaula is an enormous lake, so traveling from the northern end to the southern end provides quite a bit of terrain changes.

The water in the northern portion of the lake is much redder, due to the Deep Fork River water that enters the lake there. As you drive south along Highway 69, the water becomes less red and more of the sandy brown color of the Canadian River. Also, the numbers of evergreen trees along the shore increases as you drive farther to the south and east. Ever since our trip to Robber's Cave last year, I have wanted to return and explore southern Eufaula Lake. That was our goal for this Saturday.

Using our new Oklahoma Water Atlas, we located a boat ramp and campground called Hickory Point and decided it would be our destination for sunset paddling on Saturday. Since Highway 69 goes by several boat ramps on Eufaula, we decided to visit several of them and have a look.

We first stopped at Oak Ridge campground which sits right off Hwy 69. Naturally, Eufaula is a bit flooded these days. Every campground we stopped at had some picnic tables and BBQ grills under water.

This suited me fine because I like paddling around in flood water. When the lake water rises this high it surrounds trees that are colorful and vibrant. More importantly it creates shady paddling, one of the three key features that make rivers better for kayaking than lakes. The flood water often creates excellent new boat launch areas for kayakers.

I found Oak Ridge to be a nice, well-equipped Lake Eufaula campground that was easy to find. BTW, Highway 69 is a great road to explore if you want to see a lot of Lake Eufaula. It runs roughly along the same route as the Indian Nations Turnpike, but Highway 69 is FREE and leads to a whole lot more boat ramps and campgrounds on Lake Eufaula. Frankly, the Indian Nations Turnpike in this area is no bargain! Countless miles of barriers and Men-at-Work signs with no working men to be seen abound on this busy turnpike.

We paddled around at Oak Ridge for a few hours and then headed to McAlester for lunch. The Meeting Place is the name of the downtown McAlester restaurant we ate lunch at. It's a huge 'place' that we had all to ourselves. I hear that they have dinner theater at night, but gravy was the featured attraction we showed up for!

After lunch we drove to Elm Point, off Hwy 31. Dianne and I and paddled there for a few hours. The light was too harsh due to the hour of the day, but I was also surprised to that the trees seemed oddly leafless. This was no place to shoot the we moved on after a couple hours of kayaking.

Our final paddling spot on southern Lake Eufaula was Hickory Point campground and boat ramp. This was the best Lake Eufaula kayaking area we found on this trip. This part of Lake Eufaula is skinny, curvy and loaded with sweet smelling cedar, pine and juniper trees. The campground is more primitive than the others we visited on this trip and it was also MUCH less crowded there. We really enjoyed kayaking around Hickory Point and I hope to be able to return and camp there sometime.

Dinner in Krebs, Oklahoma is a given for Dianne and I when we travel to this part of the state. On this trip, we ate at Pete's Place (established in the '20s). Dianne enjoyed their microbrew and I enjoyed their insanely large portions. The meal was served family style in a private dining room. Pete's Place has about 30 of these private dining rooms. It makes for a cozy meal. Overall, it was not quite up to the food standards of our last Italian food meal at Carrabba's in Tulsa but it was a great end to an excellent day of paddling on southern Lake Eufaula!

So much food and paddling made it a sleepy drive back to Pierce, Oklahoma but we made it safely. We decided to spend the night in the RV at our river lot, so that I could do some dawn kayaking on the river Sunday morning.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Scenic Texas Paddling Race on Neches River Trail

120 miles southeast of the Dallas-Ft. worth metroplex, on the first Saturday in August paddlers from across the nation and the world come to Palestine, Texas to participate in the 'toughest little canoe race' in existence, raising scholarship funds for the students of the Palestine campus of the Trinity Valley Community College. Paddlers race through 22 miles of scenic, largely uninhabited Neches River Trail in Texas. (Paddling The Wild Neches)

'The Neches' is called one of the toughest flatwater races in Texas due to low water obstacles and lack of current. In other words lots of the fallen trees, stumps, in the low water typical in Oklahoma's late summer. Plenty of challenge without the hazards associated with a fast moving river. Conditions that act as an equalizer to the race field, taking away some of the advantage of hull designs and handing it to the resourceful. Stay hydrated and keep moving!

Now in the 15th year, the Neches Race has become one of Texas' favorite paddling events. It's become a tradition around Texas, regularly attracting one of the largest fields of paddlers in the Lone Star State. Over the past 6 years, funds in excess of $10,000 from the Neches River Wilderness Canoe Race have provided over 85 scholarships to deserving college students.

Want To Race?

Registration is now available online where you may pay your fee, purchase extra t-shirts, and rent canoes or kayaks as well. Click here to register for The Neches River Wilderness Canoe Race!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Free Oklahoma Water Atlas - Get One Today!

Sunset Kayaking on Okmulgee Lake
Originally uploaded by FreeWine

Dianne and I just got our new Oklahoma Water Atlas in the mail and we are LOVING it. Every Oklahoma paddler should take advantage of this great new offering from the OWRB & the ODWC.

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB), with support from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC), has produced the most useful water-related publication to come off the presses in years. The new Oklahoma Water Atlas includes 146 detailed lake maps containing comprehensive recreational information, such as boat ramps, water depths, road maps, feeder creeks and rivers and other important features.

The Atlas is 190 pages, Spiral Bound and 11” x 14” in size. It is packed full of color maps and images that will help you find great flatwater paddling spots all over Oklahoma.

You can get a free Oklahoma Water Atlas by mail if you pay $6 for the shipping or FREE if you pick it up.

To have a book mailed to your home, send a $6 check or money order (for postage and handling) made payable to “OWRB” to Oklahoma Water Resources Board Main Office 3800 N. Classen Oklahoma City, OK 73118.

Oklahoma Water Atlas by the OWRB - Resource for Oklahoma boatersYou can pick up the Oklahoma Water Atlas at the following locations:

Oklahoma Wildlife Department Headquarters
1801 N. Lincoln
Oklahoma City

3800 N. Classen Blvd,
Oklahoma City

OWRB Lawton branch office
601 "C" Avenue, Suite 101,

OWRB Tulsa branch office
State Agencies Building,
440 S. Houston, Room 2,

OWRB McAlester branch office
321 S. 3rd St. Suite 5,

OWRB Woodward branch office
2411 Williams Avenue, Suite 116,

For more information about the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, log on to For more information about the fishing in Oklahoma, log on to the Wildlife Department’s Web site at

See more regional kayaking guides for planning float trips

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Screen on the Gazebo and Plenty of Water

Screened Gazebo
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
I finally got the screen up on the gazebo at our river lot! This was my first screening project, and it would appear that I have NO special gift for this kind of work. Nonetheless, I got through it. Now we just need to develop a color scheme for painting it. Got any suggestions? We are hoping to have some of our Oklahoma paddler friends over for a BBQ this summer, so I need to come up with something before Spring is over.

Lots of water in Oklahoma these days, eh? The North Canadian River is running strong and out of it banks. I was out there this week putting screen around the gazebo on our river lot. The river is so high that you can actually launch a kayak without climbing down a treacherous sloping riverbank! Yakker will tell you that this is pretty uncommon at our lot in Pierce, Oklahoma.

At home here in Okmulgee, the Deep Fork River is in the same condition. In fact, on my way home from work yesterday I noticed that Thousand Acre Lake (a small playa lake that appears occasionally on the DFWR) was at a decent level for fishing and paddling. If the wind lays for a moment this weekend, I may have to get out there and try to take some pictures. it isn't the most scenic body of water ever, but it is real close to home. Also, I have a thing for bodies of water that play 'hard to get'.

Sadly, there has been so much rain recently that the Lower Mountain Fork River has grown too strong for kayaking. If your local rivers are too swollen to paddle you may want to consider some lake paddling.

OKC area paddlers may be interested to learn that the the 3rd Annual Lake Overholser/Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge Clean-up has been scheduled for April 19, 2008 from 9:30am - 1:00pm. Visit our Taste Oklahoma News Blog for more details on the fun that they have planned and the prizes you could win just by participating!

I've also added a Kayak Photography page to the Oklahoma Road trips site. The content is still a little bit light today, just some kayaking pictures and five kayak photography tips. However, I plan to add a list of kayak photography links and some equipment reviews.

Let me know if you have any ideas to share. Just email me or leave a comment on the blog.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

OKC Kayak Demo May 7, 2008

Lake Okmulgee Water Trees
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
7th Annual OKC Kayak Demo Day

May 7, 2008 presented by the Oklahoma City Outdoor Network.

If you have never been in a kayak before or would like to paddle several models before you make up your mind on a purchase, this evening is what you have been waiting for....

FREE Kayak Demo in OKC

Open to the General Public

Visit Lake Hefner's Hobie Point on

Wednesday, May 7, 2008 from 6:00 - 9:00 pm

There should be around 35 or more different kinds
of kayaks there for people to try, from sit-on-tops,
sit-in recreational kayaks, inflatable kayaks, folding kayaks and sit-in whitewater kayaks. A true 'try before you buy' moment.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Outdoor Activities for Spring 2008

Finally, our part of Oklahoma was blessed with some t-shirt weather on the weekend. Dianne and I paddled our kayaks up a crooked creek that feeds Dripping Springs Lake. Although the redbuds are in full bloom here, there is still not much color in the landscape surrounding the lake. Also, it is starting to get harder for me to paddle at Dripping Springs Lake, as the number of RV increases the rich smell of charcoal and beef becomes almost overwhelming! More details about yesterday's trip can be found here on our Okmulgee kayaking page.

I hope my fellow paddlers got outside and enjoyed the weather also. Don't wait for Summer to start making plans for Oklahoma outdoor fun. Milder temps, lower humidity and easier to find reservations make this an excellent season for taking an Oklahoma road trip.

The Oklahoma Flatwater Paddlers are planning a trip to Broken Bow this April. I am hoping to setup a trip to Noel, MO to take my son paddling down the Elk River in late May.

Oklahoma's wineries are hosting events to celebrate the budding underway in the vineyards! The Grape Ranch at Okemah will hold a Bud Break Party on April 19 and the Grand Wine Trail will host and event in Bartlesville on April 26th, 2008.

The Salt Plains Birding and Heritage Festival will be April 26-27 and features guided birding tours, games and entertainment in the unique ecosystem of northwestern Oklahoma. Get outside and embrace Spring because in Oklahoma it tends to become Summer REAL fast!