Monday, April 21, 2008
Kayaking on Southern Lake Eufaula
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 sunset...so 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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