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The Kiamichi River near Antlers, Oklahoma.
Scenic Kayaking on The Kiamichi River in Southeastern Oklahoma.

Hobie Cat Kayaks

Heritage Kayaks

 

 

The Spring River - Paddle from Kansas to Oklahoma! A river offering camping spots and numerous 'honey-holes' for fishing.

Urban Lake Kayaking on Santa Fe Lake Near Wichita, KS  

Hobie Mirage Kayaks on Santa Fe Lake in Augusta, Kansas.Kayaking Trip Report - May 29, 2010. 
Memorial Day weekend offered me a four day holiday this year, so we decided to make a quick road trip North to Wichita, Kansas. I had learned of a canoe & kayak outfitter in the area that was renting Hobie Mirage pedal drive kayaks.  Dianne and I have wanted to paddle one of these unique Sit-On-Top kayaks for a long time, but truthfully...they are out of our price range. I have a kid to send to college in a few short years.  If I let my lust for little plastic boats and big digital cameras free, it would consume every nickel I earn. So, the opportunity to rent a Hobie Mirage kayak was worth the 4-hour drive, for me.

Plus, I heard Wichita has good steaks.

Wichita Kansas Road Trip

The drive to Wichita, Kansas from Okmulgee, Oklahoma is less than four hours long, but it can seem like five hours. I am more accustom to making road trips into the Ozarks, where the roads are spiced liberally with switchbacks, rollercoaster hills, saucy roadside attractions and the occasional near-miss with a logging truck to keep your attention. Driving to and from Kansas is much less white-knuckle driving and much more red-shoulder driving. Thankfully, they have very good roads in our neighbor state, so we made pretty good time driving to Wichita. I recommend some good 'road games' to keep your mind alert while driving through the plains.
 

Road Game

My wife, my son and I played a road game to pass the time driving to Wichita, KS. Here is how we play. We watch the road for signs that contain acronyms or abbreviations and call it out when we see one. Then, everyone makes up zany alternative definitions for the letters. Obscene language is not allowed, but crudity is encouraged. Turns are not observed, but you get the better laughs if you patiently wait for a moment of silence before blurting out your answer.

The game started when Dylan asked about the VFW sign that we passed and I told him it stood for a Visual Fart Warning device that was manufactured at that location. Dianne quickly assured us that the acronym actually stood for Voluptuous Fishing Women, a local special interest group that campaigns for shadier hats and better fitting lifejackets. We didn't manage to convince Dylan because he was pretty sure he saw a Vibrating Ferret Weapon advertised on a billboard a few miles back. We don't keep score in this game.
 

Lodging in Wichita

Wichita Marriot Walking Path Wichita, Kansas.We took a driving tour downtown Wichita after arriving in town. The Keeper of the Plains statue was very impressive.  I'm told that Wichita is the biggest city in Kansas.  Although a couple rivers wind their way through town, I didn't find any info on urban kayaking in Wichita.  After eating at Bubba's Nekkid Barbecue, we spent the night at the Wichita Marriott. The hotel is an aging, but nice place to stay. It boasts an excellent restaurant and a pool both indoor and outside. The KC Strip steaks they made for Dianne and I were absolutely perfect right down to the char-pattern.

A local track-meet this weekend had the hotel filled with fit teenagers and their nervous guardians. Around midnight someone thought it would be pretty funny to set off the hotel fire alarm. It took quite a while for someone to figure out how to shut off the alarm, even after the fire department arrived!  There also appeared to be a problem with the Air Conditioning as it never dropped below 75 degrees in the room.

I enjoyed the short, but lovely walking trail around a small cement pond behind the Marriott. However, I was the only one to enjoy it, Dianne and Dylan didn't sleep very well that night and had some trouble waking up the next morning. Luckily, the breakfast buffet was able to revive them in time for some lake paddling. The Wichita Marriott is just off Kellogg Road, the highway that leads to Santa Fe Lake between Andover KS and Augusta, KS.

Why Kansas? For the Kayaks, Of Course.

Santa Fe Lake by Kayak in Southern Kansas.This trip got planned because I found a web page for Brooks Canoe & Kayak in Augusta, Kansas. Even though I own three kayaks and a canoe, I still love to patronize paddling outfitters. They often offer unique kinds of kayaks and they always have the best advice about where to paddle and when. Sometimes, you can even buy kayaking t-shirts from them!

Brooks Canoe & Kayak is unique, in that they offer the Hobie Mirage kayak for rental. It takes a cool kayak rental opportunity to draw me to Kansas because my favorite thing about kayaking is shade trees. Finding shade in Kansas is a bit more challenging than in my neck of the woods here in Okmulgee. Also, I had planned to take a more scenic route home and scout some of the cool kayaking locations listed in Paddling Kansas.  Unfortunately, I got a little lost and the route we took home didn't prove to be very scenic.  I had hoped to check out Fall River, Fall River Lake and Toronto Lake. I have heard that the most scenic paddling spots in Kansas are in Southeastern Kansas.

The Hobie Mirage Kayak

Hobie Mirage kayaks have a pedal drive feature that propels the boat with small flippers, under the hull, powered by foot pedals in the cockpit. The pedals move back and forth rather than in a circle bicycle-like pattern. A rudder controls the direction of the kayak. The rudder is operated by a cool little lever on one side of the kayak. On the other side of the kayak is a similar lever that deploys or retracts the rudder for shallow water kayaking. The Mirage Drive moves this big, wide Sit-On-Top (SOT) kayak forward quite fast, but you do need a paddle for bracing and for moving the kayak in reverse.

Santa Fe Lake Kayaking in pedal powered Hobie Mirage kayaks.We rented two of these cool pedal-driven kayaks and an Old Town Otter from Brooks. The Old Town Otter is my least favorite kayak. Unlike most of the Otter's that I have rented, this one had foot pegs at least. Unfortunately, they would not adjust far enough to fit my somewhat tall stature. The Hobie kayaks were quite roomy. We ended up wishing that we had brought our own kayaking PFD's as the outfitters lifejackets were quite worn and not able to properly adjust for kayakers our size.  This is pretty common among canoe and kayak outfitters.

One of the Hobie kayaks was the inflatable 112s and the other was the hard-shell Mirage SUV. Both Mirage kayaks pedaled at least as fast as the Otter could be paddled even though they were much larger. These big old SOT kayaks are VERY stable, making them ideal for Santa Fe Lake which tends to have a lot of Jet Ski traffic.  Despite being constantly surrounded by wake board boats, knee board enthusiasts and Jet Ski pilots, the boat wakes never managed to make the Hobie kayaks unstable in the waves.  You can tell they were designed by ocean boaters.

Like all SOT kayaks, you get a lot of sun paddling a Hobie. Unlike most SOT kayaks, Hobie offers an optional Bimini top for boats! They also offer sails and other goodies to outfit your Mirage. Hobie kayaks are expensive, but they offer a wealth of fun options for kayakers.  SOT kayaks like these are popular with women because they show off the legs and the Hobie Mirage drive should keep your legs in a fine shape for showing off!

 

The Outfitter

Santa Fe Lake just twenty minutes east of Wichita, Kansas.The folks at Brooks Canoe & Kayak were very nice. Like almost all paddling outfitters, Brooks is a family business. Dealing with friendly, earnest, flexible and responsive owner-operators is a pleasure for a corporate wage-slave like me. They were fully prepared to put us on the water at 7:30am as per my plan. They were also very cool about it when we arrived around 9am.

An outfitter that will meet you at dawn's early light is a blessing for any kayak photographer or fisherman. Their boats were in good condition and did not leak. Few outfitters that I have used offer so many kayak choices or a location that close to an urban lake.

Brooks Canoe & Kayak offers a variety of canoes, sit-inside kayaks and sit-on-top kayaks, they even have a couple of Perception Swifty 9.5 kayaks like mine. The are located about two minutes from Santa Fe Lake and that is about 20 minutes from Wichita, Kansas. I am told they are willing to put you on some other bodies of water in the area, but we didn't stay long enough to find out. I would enjoy a one way paddling trip where I could put-in on the river and paddle down to the lake if possible.

Brooks Canoe & Kayak
Canoe & Kayak Trips & Rentals
316-775-7671
8750 SW Santa Fe Lake Road
Augusta, KS  67010

Santa Fe Lake

Santa Fe Lake is a small 200 acre lake east of Wichita, Kansas.
It has a small waterfall on the eastern side of the lake, year-round mountain bike trails and some cool canoe launch docks on the southwest side of the lake. Like most lakes close to large urban area, you will need to buy a special permit to kayak at Santa Fe Lake. For the most scenic paddling, follow the shoreline to the north side of the lake where a narrow creek winds among the cottonwood trees. The water is murky and catfish are the chosen prey of most local anglers.

Get out on the water early in the morning and head for the narrow channel on the North side of the lake. Jet skis cover this water by 10:30am, so keep close to the shoreline to avoid a deadly collision.

 

 

The Spring River is great for floating from Baxter Springs in South Kansas down to the small town of Quapaw in Northern Oklahoma or even farther down to Twin Bridges State Park. It offers a great put-in and take-out for kayaking day trips, but no outfitters or shuttle service.


The Spring River in Northern Oklahoma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elk River Outfitters

 

 

Buffalo River Outfitters

 

 

Eureka Springs Float Trips

 

 

Buying Vs. Renting Kayaks

...Oklahoma Float Trip Outfitters List.

  Find a Spray Skirt for Your Kayak.


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