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:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Lost Lake – at last

People have often confused Loss Lake with Lost Lake, both along Highway 19 in northwestern Minnehaha County, South Dakota. Loss Lake is about 5 miles south of Humboldt, and Lost Lake is about 2.5 miles north of Humboldt, both located on the east side of the highway.
Jay Heath and Dave Finck on Lost Lake, SD
While I have often visited Loss Lake, today was my first visit to Lost Lake.  Lost Lake is very secluded and requires a passage along rough roads with little signage.  Dave Finck, DeDa Odekirk and I left Sioux Falls this morning in Dave’s van and trailer with three kayaks and one of his Kevlar Wenonah canoes, driving west along Interstate 90 to the Humboldt exit.
From there we drove north on Highway 19 to 256th Street and continued east to 458th Avenue where we turned north and then soon turned west along a dirt track road leading through the woods to a launching spot.
There was no signage directing us to the lake, although we could see the path on the South Dakota Atlas and Gazetteer.  GPS on a iPhone seems to give a good pathway to the lake, Google Maps mistakes Loss for Lost Lake. The entrance to the lake passes through a wildlife production area.
The roads around Lost Lake are pretty rough; driving on them after a rain would probably be quite a challenge for a two-wheel drive vehicle.
Lost Lake was so named because the surrounding hills hide it so well.  The surface area of the lake is about 163 acres, making it about 60% larger than Lake Alvin. The shape of the lake includes an irregular shoreline with several large peninsulas.  There is scattered woodland along the shore and a very few buildings within sight.  There is no evidence that the lake is frequently visited.
DeDa Odekirk on Lost Lake, SD
We arrived at the lakeshore about 9:15 a.m. with the morning temperature about 33 degrees, clear sunny skies, and a wind of about 17 mph. There was no ice on the lake, but puddles along the road and in some of the ditches were ice covered. 
The wind was out of the southwest creating waves of about a foot as we set out.  It seemed to us that a counterclockwise circuit around the lake would move us across the wind and provide the best opportunity for a smoother cruise. Deda was in her kayak, while Dave and I took his canoe and left our kayaks on the trailer.  
We set our moving around the eastern shore and headed toward the north bank.  Along the way we encountered a lone pelican and a few gulls.  Most of the bird life, I imagine, has already left for a warmer climate further south.
As we cruised along the northern bank and headed west, we soon found ourselves in much calmer water and were able to move along while watching the landscape pass.  The lake shore is turning monochromatic as the winter browning continues over the next few weeks.
In the distance, we could see some traffic moving north and south along Highway 19, but we were alone on the water and along the shore.  There was no sight of anyone else in the area.
Moving into the southwestern part of the lake, we encountered a bay of submerged trees with a few feet of decayed trunk extending up from the muddy bottom. Obviously, the water level in the lake has risen over the past several years and destroyed this stand of trees.
We continued along the southern shoreline in relatively calm water.  The shoreline ranged from rocky headlands to hard packed sand.  I was able to enjoy the cruise without even getting my feet wet.
Unlike my cruise last week, this time I dressed warmly.  We all had on warm jackets, hats, gloves, and shoes. Last week, I got quite chilled; this week I was appropriately dressed.
DeDa Odekirk Warmly Dressed for Chilly Cruise
We were out on the lake for about an hour and fifteen minutes today. By the time we finished, the temperature had risen to nearly 40 degrees.   Lost Lake is a good place to visit; the shape is interesting and there is good opportunity for viewing wildlife. Of course, finding roads that lead to the lake is quite a challenge, but perhaps the search for access is part of the adventure.  I will plan on returning to Lost Lake in the spring or summer.  
For a full set of the photos I took on the Lost Lake cruise, please access my Flick account at the following URL:

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