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Saguaro Lake Kayaking Day Trip
Saguaro Lake
November 28, 2023
by Chuck Parsons
group A
Trailblazers pose for a quick mug shot. [photo by Cyd]
Chuck, Cyd, and Lee.

It’s a perfect day for kayaking in mid-November, with partly cloudy skies, temperatures in the low-70s, and a cool light breeze blowing out of the southwest. Three kayakers from the Arizona Trailblazers launch their kayaks from Butcher Jones Beach and began paddling south across Saguaro Lake toward the Salt River Channel. Our goal for the day is Ship Rock, 2.5 miles from the beach. However, as the old expression goes, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” More on that later.

Kayakers1
Chuck and Lee take a short break from paddling. [photo by Cyd]

There’s very little power boat traffic on the lake this morning and no other kayakers so far. But we do see plenty of hikers on the scenic Butcher Jones Trail, as they make their way around this part of the lake on a 5.8-mile out and back journey. This trip marks the first time that we’ve seen more hikers than kayakers on the lake. The Trailblazers have done this hike numerous times in the past. If you’ve never hiked this trail before, rated as easy to moderate, it’s definitely worth looking into.

Kayak
We’re heading for the main Salt River Channel. [photo by Cyd]

After paddling across the lake on relatively smooth and calm waters, as soon as we enter the main channel, with its high canyon walls, we start getting buffeted by stiff winds. This typically doesn’t happen until early afternoon, as we start making the return trip to the launch area, but today is apparently going to be an exception to the rule. Cyd’s new inflatable kayak is especially getting slammed hard by these strong winds to the point where she can’t make any headway at all. As hard as she paddles, the winds hitting her kayak square on prevent her from moving forward at all. Unfortunately, this is one of the major disadvantages of inflatable kayaks. They can’t be beat for convenience of storage and transport, but kayaking in strong winds is another matter altogether.

Scenic
The majestic Four Peaks overlooking Saguaro Lake. [photo by Cyd]

But we’re all getting hit pretty hard by these totally unpredictable winds and decide to turn back and take shelter in Peregrin Cove on the way back to Butcher Jones Beach. Here we find temporary refuge from the strong winds and paddle all the way back to the narrow end of this large cove and enjoy the calm, wind-free waters for at least a while. After a twenty-minute break, we paddle back out to the main lake body and start making our way back to Butcher Jones, this time with the winds mostly to our backs. By 12:30 we reach the beach, haul our kayaks back to the parking lot, and load all our gear back into the three vehicles. On the drive back home the three of us decide to make a quick lunch stop at Wendy’s in Fountain Hills, just west of Highway 87. Although it’s been a relatively short day of kayaking, we all agree that it’s still been good to get out on the water and enjoy a cool day of paddling Saguaro Lake.

Cormorant
This black-necked cormorant is drying its wings on a convenient lake buoy. [photo by Cyd]
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona updated December 28, 2023
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