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Float #36 & #37: Lake Wappapello

20 Jun

Lake Wappapello State Park

wappapello lake

Lake Wappapello
Wayne County, Missouri
Saturday, April 21 & Sunday, April 22
15 Miles

After spending Friday evening with friends at a great bluegrass concert at the Buckner Brewing Co. in Cape Girardeau, we wanted to spend the rest of the weekend floating. There aren’t many options near Cape Girardeau, other than the Mississippi. Lake Wappapello is a little over an hour from Cape and we had heard it is a really nice area. We headed out Saturday morning and drove southwest through the flat bootheel landscape into the rolling foothills just south of the St. Francois mountains.

Lake Wappapello is managed by the Army Corps of Engineers but also has forest areas, conservation areas and a state park surrounding it. Thus, the lake is free of residential and commercial development along the banks. We set up camp in Lake Wappapello State Park, a small, but nice campground right on the lake shore. After getting settled we drug our boats down to the lake and started to paddle.

wappapello lake

Gearing up at the campground beach

wappapello lake

We puttered around for a bit in the area around the campground before we found the way out to the main channel. Parts of the lake are very shallow and there were areas where our paddles were hitting the bottom. The dam at Wappapello burst during a big flood last spring. So the lake is still in the process of filling up to normal levels. Many of the islands were now peninsulas because there wasn’t quite enough water to cover.

We saw a tree growing a couple hundred yards from shore and tried to paddle over to it. The lake was very shallow all around it. Charlie got out of his boat and walked around in it. It looked like he was walking on water. After a lot of shallow paddling we made our way back to the main channel and then headed back to camp.

wappapello lake

A tree grows in a lake

wappapello lake

Charlie walks on water

wappapello lake

DW, executive paddler

We broke camp the next morning and headed back out for another paddle. This time we went a different direction and circumnavigated a couple big islands. There was a really nice group of campsites on the two islands we paddled around. We pulled over and checked one out. It had a picnic table and lantern post. Pretty fancy for a primitive camp! It would be a lot of fun to camp out on the island overnight. Of course, it would be easier to do it in a motorboat, but with a canoe and a few kayaks, we could haul all our gear from the nearest boat ramp to the island camp without much problem.

wappapello lake

DW, Charlie and me

Once we were three-quarters of the way around the island we decided to paddle over to the dam. Before we could get there, rain clouds started to come in from the west. We looked a them a while, trying to decide if it was going to go north of us or not. We decided to head toward land just to be safe. A few hundred yards out the rain came in suddenly. The wind picked up and whipped the water into waves. We paddled furiously to the island shore, pulled our boats up, flipped them over and ran into the shelter of the woods. The rain came down hard for about 20 minutes and then it was mild and sunny again. We wrung ourselves out and paddled back to camp.

Here comes the storm

Run for it!