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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5 comments: said...

What an amazing experience. I definitely need to get out to Oklahoma at some point. It's amazing how many places there is to kayak over there.

yakker said...

Awesome Report, I've lived on Lake Eufaula a very long time and have barely explored it. Particularly the southern portion. Its like an ocean. I wonder how long it would take to paddle the whole thing, I may never get to know. I'll have to check back here to find more reports. Have you explored the cove south of Vivian?

Thomas said...

Thanks for taking time to comment!

@Yakker: I haven't visited the Lake Eufaula cove south of Vivian, Oklahoma yet, but it is certainly on the list.

One of Dianne's website clients, Sailing Horse Winery, has a private beach and winery on that part of Lake Eufaula.

We are hoping to get together a group paddling and wine tasting event there this summer.

John Theberge said...

Thanks for visiting the blog, glad you liked the kayak photo. It's been a long winter here but hopefully I'll get out on the water for the first time this season.

Anonymous said...

I live out side Long Town and use a jon boat with a 4 hp motor. The Lake is a way of life and affects everything around it. My home is on an island conected by bridges. It is true that a small conenction of land to the sw exsists on a small ridge, however life is definatley island life. Eufaula is a vast world, which includes the river systems ultimatly concented to the Gulf. As a home it becomes a wonderful backyard of many thousands of acres. Summers around July arn't worth the time as vistors ruin it with high volume traffic and out boards the size of front doors. Spring, and Fall are best, with winter boating being the best if one dresses warmly and is a good seaman. Storms can raise waves and currents strong enough to kill. Fishing is wonderful, and is the partial subsistance of many residents. We live in an isolated place, beside bald eagles and bobcats. Beneath our boat glide the river gar, and blue catfish.