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, July 06, 2009

Loss Lake - or maybe Lost Lake - July 2009

Until this morning, I had not been to Loss Lake for about two years. One of the blog readers alerted me to improvements that have been made to the public access area, so I wanted to go out and see how the setting had changed. First off, however, there seems to be some confusion regarding the name of the lake. I first saw this body of water on the South Dakota Atlas & Gazetteer located in western Minnehaha County, 2½ miles north of Highway 42 along Highway 19. The atlas clearly identifies this body of water as Loss Lake. There is a Lost Lake, also along Highway 19 but about 4 miles north of Humboldt. The South Dakota Statewide Fisheries Survey also describes Loss Lake in the same location as the atlas. But, there is a web site called Fishing Works that describes Lost Lake, actually located north of Humboldt, as the site known through the atlas and the South Dakota Survey as Loss Lake. Then, I ran into a fisherman on the water today, and I asked him the name of the lake. He said it was called Lost Lake, and he learned of the name through friends who had been there before. Of course, there is no name listed in the signage located at the waterway. My take on this is that the lake is really Loss Lake, and this Fishing Works website has mislabeled the body of water. That website has misplaced Lost Lake on the map and even included GPS coordinates for Loss Lake in the description. For now, I will continue identifying this body of water as Loss Lake.
So with that said, I arrived at the lake this morning about 7:20 to find it, as usual, deserted. As I had been informed, there have been major improvements to the site since my last visit in 2007. The access road is improved; there is now a large parking area, a fishing dock, a boat dock, a concrete boat launch, and a vault toilet. The difference since my last visit is marked, but I expect that the isolation I felt earlier has now been diminished. Easy access and improved facilities probably equals increased usage.

Before Renovation of Launch Area


After Renovation of Launch Area

The temperature this morning was in the 70s, heading toward a predicted 90 degrees. There was no wind and the lake was flat calm. With no wind noise, the only sounds were a distant occasional vehicle moving along Highway 19 and birds calling to each other. The sky was nearly cloudless with only a few high thin cirrus clouds and the contrail of a passing jet.
Loss Lake is only 86 acres in surface area, just a little smaller than Lake Alvin. The lake is irregular in shape and offers a few bays to explore. Generally, though, the lake is unremarkable. There are some high banks, but the shoreline cover is mostly tall grass and a few trees. The lake is posted as “no wake.” There was quite a bit of algae on the water, with more located on the west bank. The fisherman I talked with told me that this algae had developed recently. The southern part of the lake has a bay that extends into a cow pasture. On most of my trips to this lake, there have been cows in the water behind a barbed wire fence in this southeastern section, and they are still there.
There was not a lot of wildlife visible this morning. I came across an egret, a great blue heron, and a couple of ducks. There were also a few jumping fish that I assume were carp. The lake seemed to mirror the environmental conditions: still, quite, and sleepy.
There are a few large rocks lurking just below the surface, especially on the eastern side of the lake. This morning, there was a little welcome shade under the high banks also on the eastern side.
My cruise along the perimeter of the lake took just over an hour. As I was finishing the tour, a pickup arrived with a fishing boat in tow. The boat presented an unusual form, and I saw that the sole occupant of the boat had rigged a picnic table umbrella in the center to keep him somewhat sheltered from the sun. With another person on the lake, the area met my definition of crowded, and I thought that it was just as well that my circuit of the lake was over. By 8:45, a little breeze had come up and it was getting hotter. It was time to drift off.
Loss Lake has little to recommend it except for being only 25 miles from my eastside Sioux Falls home and fine launch facilities. It may be okay for fishing, but a cruise on this body of water once every couple of years is sufficient.

Cruise Note:

The South Dakota Canoe Association is sponsoring a cruise on Sunday, July 12, on the Big Sioux River from the Klondike Dam to Canton. This three-hour cruise departs from the South Dakota side of the Klondike at 9:00 a.m. For more information on the cruise, check out the SDCA website at The cruise is under the direction of Mr. Larry Braaten, the cruise director for the SDCA.


Danny said...

My Garmin showed the lake as Lost Lake, so there may be a few maps or guides that have mislabeled it.

I'm curious about the other "Lost Lake" now.

Patrick Wellner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick Wellner said...

Google maps labels both as Lost Lake.

Terraserver (USGS & Microsoft) also calls it Lost Lake.

The SD GFP calls it Loss Lake

I am very curious on the correct name. I was surprised that the terraserver called it Lost rather than Loss.