Urban Lake Kayaking on Santa Fe
Lake Near Wichita, KS
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
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
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
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.
trip got planned because I found a web page for
Brooks Canoe & Kayak in Augusta, Kansas. Even though I own
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.
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
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.
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
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!
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.
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
Brooks Canoe & Kayak
Canoe & Kayak Trips & Rentals
8750 SW Santa Fe Lake Road
Augusta, KS 67010
Santa Fe Lake
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.
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.
Spring River in Northern Oklahoma.
Elk River Outfitters
Buffalo River Outfitters
Eureka Springs Float Trips
Buying Vs. Renting Kayaks