Ever wanted to try kayaking, but just didn't have the gear? Feel your vacation to the Whitefish Chain would be absolutely perfect if you could dip a paddle into the smooth waters of Cross Lake? Now's your chance! Gather the family and head to the Corps of Engineers Recreation Area.
This Saturday, May 26, try your hand at kayaking for free at the beach near the Crosslake Dam at the Corps of Engineers Recreation Area. The folks at Wind, Water and Wheels kayak shop and rental are teaming up with the rangers at the Corps to offer free kayak demos from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Everything you need to try kayaking is included and free to try- the kayak, paddle and life jacket.
Wind, Water and Wheels is the outlet for Crow Wing Kayaks, a kayak manufacturing company that makes all their products in Crosslake. The free demo allows the store to get the word out on their kayaks and have some fun with the public, and the Corps of Engineers is able to spread its message of the importance of life jackets.
Just about anyone can kayak in a Crow Wing Kayak, which is a sit-on-top style kayak that's easier to enter and exit than some other types of kayaks. The beach area at the dam is sandy and relatively shallow, which also makes it easy to try the kayaks.
In addition to this demo event, Crow Wing Kayaks and Wind, Water and Wheels head up the Crow Wing Paddlers Club, which takes periodic paddling trips in waterways around the Whitefish Chain Area. They mix it up between rivers, lakes, bays and wetlands. Bring your own kayak, canoe or stand-up paddle board (or really any paddle-able vessel) and meet with the group, or take advantage of half-price kayak rentals during club meetings. Find more info and the paddling schedule on the club's Facebook page.
Wind, Water and Wheels also offers shuttled river trips down the Pine River, a scenic and mostly wild river that eventually joins the mighty Mississippi. The river is also part of the state water trails program through the DNR, so it has plenty of launches, portages (though they are almost never necessary) and campsites/picnic sites along the way.
If you have your own gear and want to make a day of it yourself, Wind, Water and Wheels is happy to offer river updates to anyone interested- regardless of whether you plan to purchase or rent gear. Call them at 218-692-1200 to find out a good route and where water levels are ideal. The Crosslake Dam is a great place to launch, and a canoe landing a few river miles down can be a great take out. Or, go farther and take out at the rock dam on Big Pine Lake. You can find a detailed map of the water trail on the DNR website.
No matter how you choose to get out on a kayak, you'll find that it's not only great exercise but also a great way to get an up-close view of the water and wildlife of the Whitefish Chain Area.