Thursday, July 16, 2009

Smith Mountain Lake - July 2009

Smith Mountain Lake is one of the largest lakes in Virginia, with over 500 miles of shoreline. It's fully developed and commercialized, as opposed to most of the lakes I visit in Virginia. I chose to visit Smith Mountain today with my family for a little swimming and to allow one of my kids the chance to paddle my 14' Heritage Sea Dart as she learns to paddle and handle a boat on the water.

Numerous marinas and boat ramps are available around the lake. We chose a lesser-developed public boat ramp on the northeastern side of the lake which offered a concrete ramp, dock, and small beach for paddlecraft. Parking was available for about a dozen vehicles. While one child paddled my 14' Heritage, I myself paddled my Mainstream Tango tandem kayak with the other child. This tandem is a large family 'yak with seating for two adults and one to two kids (or perhaps a dog). It's wide, slow, and a bit of a barge, but it paddles straight and true, is stable, and it's easy to use as a portable swim platform.

Being a Thursday afternoon, I had assumed that the lake would be relatively quiet, but I was wrong. Numerous boats and jet skis were on the lake, so we stayed in the shallows up one of the lake arms and out of the traffic.

School today consisted of teaching my elder child how to climb back into the kayak after capsizing and also learning how to turn a 14' kayak without using a rudder. But mostly they wanted to swim, so I towed the 14-footer behind the tandem while the kids swam in the lake.

In all, we paddled and swam for about an hour in a quiet, residential, no-wake part of the lake this afternoon.

Being such a large lake, one could spend months exploring Smith Mountain on a kayak. And I'm sure some areas of the lake are quieter and less developed than the location we picked today. View this location in Google Maps by clicking here.

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