This blog is designed to highlight the paddling opportunities within South Dakota, mainly within a 50-mile radius of Sioux Falls. While Sioux Falls is far from the adventure of coastal regions, there is a certain satisfaction in utilizing the available waterways to observe weather, water conditions, and the landscape along the shoreline. In addition, there is a wealth of animal life on the waters of small South Dakota lakes, rivers, and creeks, including geese, ducks, pelicans, great blue heron, egrets, hawks, owls, perching birds, deer, raccoons, and beaver. Eagles, fox, and coyote are also sometimes spotted.

The sites described are places where I have kayaked over the past few years, mostly in South Dakota but sometimes including locations in Iowa and Minnesota. One of the best sources of information on the accessibility of small lakes is the South Dakota Atlas and Gazetteer, the large map book of South Dakota. Lakes with a public access are generally identified by a boat symbol marking the location of a launching site on public land.

You will notice the menu of paddling locations on the right side of the blog. Each of the postings is linked to one of the areas, and my intention is to provide a continuing review of the places where I paddle. Perhaps these narratives will help readers select waterways of interest to them. Please feel free to offer a comment regarding any of my postings; I would welcome the dialog.

I also maintain a companion blog that describes hiking opportunities within the Sioux Falls area. You can access that blog at:

Monday, April 29, 2013

Lake Alvin in Early Delayed Spring: End of April 2013

Public Access Area on Southwestern End of Lake Alvin
I have not cruised on Lake Alvin since last November. The spring has been delayed for about a month this year, and people are just now getting out on the area waterways.  This morning I decided to take advantage of the best forecast of the upcoming week and drive out to Lake Alvin.  The lake is just 15 minutes from my eastside Sioux Falls home, and I waited today until about 9:00 a.m. to leave.  The temperature was in the 60s, it was sunny, and a moderate wind was coming down the lake from the north.  As is often the case, I was the only person on or around the lake.  A guy showed up just as I was leaving with a couple of dogs that were anxious for me to leave the area so that they could run into the lake.
The dock is not yet installed for the public access area along the southwestern side, although it is in at the recreation area launching site.  I departed from the public access area and paddled across to the east side and then headed south toward Nine-Mile Creek.
Nine-Mile Creek Flowing into Lake Alvin
There is plenty of water in the lake, unlike my trip to Mud Lake last Friday.  The water level in Lake Alvin seems pretty normal to me. 
Going a mile or so up Nine-Mile Creek is my favorite way to begin a cruise on Lake Alvin.  The creek flows into the lake from the south.  Moving down the lake and up into the creek requires that a kayak hug the eastern (life side going up into the creek) shore in order to escape shoal water in the southern end of the lake.
Nine-Mile Creek is about 50 feet wide as it enters Lake Alvin, but it gradually narrows down on the journey south until it is perhaps 10 feet wide and too shallow for even a kayak.  A trip up the creek takes about 20 minutes going upstream and then about 15 minutes for the float back.  The creek had adequate depth all the way; I even used my rudder most of the time. 
There were lots of birds out today, especially waterfowl.  Geese and ducks seemed to be nesting along the shore and in the marsh and growth just into the shoreline. I saw a couple variety of ducks, lots of geese, a coupe of egrets, and lots of perching birds. I did not see any mammal life today, although there were some turtles just easing out into the morning sun.  I have heard that turtles have poor eyesight, but they seem to see my kayak approaching from 30 feet away. I no more than glimpsed them before they would slide off their resting spot and into the water.
After exiting Nine-Mile Creek, I proceeded north along the eastern shore of the main body of the lake until I was opposite the recreation area dock on the northwestern side.  From there, I crossed over to the western side and continued back to the public access launching area.
Paddling in a deep body of water was just the opposite of the Mud Lake cruise on Friday.  It was pleasant to cruise along, especially in Nine-Mile Creek, and hear only the sounds of bird life and watch the green shoots of grass poking through the brown winter cover.  The cruise today was just under two hours.
For anyone interested in past narratives of cruises on Lake Alvin, check out the inventory of narratives on the right side of the blog; there are 38 narratives of past cruises just on Lake Alvin.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good job getting two outings already this year. I haven't been on the water yet, and the news is predicting snow for tonight (1 May) in Nebraska. I'm glad I pushed back my camping reservation for Roy Lake from this weekend to later in the month. Still, any precipitation is welcome. P.M.Boylan