Kayaking at Ha Ha Tonka State Park
The third and final paddle of our trip to Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri was at Ha Ha Tonka State Park. (It means Laughing Waters.) Ha Ha Tonka’s claim to fame is what they call the “Castle”, a mansion that was built high on a hill above the lake back in the early 1900’s. It was destroyed by a fire in the 40’s and has been a part of the State Park since then. Even in ruins, it’s a magnificent structure to see. I wanted to make sure we made it part of this vacation. We started the day hiking to the castle ruins under a brilliant blue sky, perfect to take lots of pictures of the castle. We hiked several of the easy trails and saw lots of the parks attractions: the water tower, the natural bridge and the spring below the cliff where the castle was built.
It was getting later in the day when we made it back to the car after hiking to the spring. It was such a perfect evening for a paddle and we were parked right by the water so we got the inflatable kayak out of the trunk and quickly got it pumped up. There really isn’t a beach, but there was a level spot where we could put the boat in. The lake was clam and the paddling was easy and relaxing. As it is all over the Lake of the Ozarks, there were fish jumping all around us, keeping us entertained as we took in the scenery.
We were just rounding a small point and as we were coming around to the other side, Dennis was saying “Wouldn’t it be cool to see a blue heron right on the shore.” He no sooner got finished saying that and the swoosh of wings told us his wish had come true. We were close enough to get a great look at it, but I couldn’t get my camera ready fast enough to get a picture.
We paddled back towards the castle cliffs. The trees were just starting to have a slight twinge of color and the reflections on the water kept interrupting our paddling. I just had to keep stopping to get pictures, it was just too pretty to pass up. I especially liked the pictures where I could see the castle’s water tower in the distance and it’s reflection on the lake.
We saw another heron ahead of us and headed towards it to see if I could get some pictures. Of course, just as we would get within picture range it would fly off to another shore. We tried again and had to paddle to the other shore as he made his way to that side. We did eventually manage to get close enough to get a rather good picture of it before we called it a day. By this time the sun was getting lower in the sky and it was time to deflate our Sea Eagle 330 kayak and head back to our resort.
We enjoyed the state park and the chance to get out on the lake. Lake of the Ozarks is a kayakers dream with miles of places to explore. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun vacation destination.