Padding at finger lakes state park is a lot like water itself. Like water, the park is the same and yet different every time. The nature of the park, a former coal strip mine, changes with season, day of the week and time of day.
The lakes are a maze of interconnected ponds that run for about a mile along the eastern edge of the park. Appropriate watercraft is anything that floats. I am very happy the park restricts motor boats to electric motors only - power boats, shallow narrow channels, and paddle craft would be disaster waiting to happen. The ponds tend to be narrower and deeper on the north end. The area tends to be flatter and more open on the south end.
In the summer months on the weekends, the park can be full. The area supports ORV (off road vehicle) use, camping, fishing, a beach, a trap & skeet area, and a set of firearm ranges. Yet with all of that activity I have been there in the crisp cool of a spring morning and listened to the water dripping back off my paddle. It was the loudest sound as I ghosted along watching the ripple of my passage float among the branches reflecting in a glass flat surface.
I have also traded lies with fishermen, watched goslings grow and listened to the thunder of hundreds of motor cycles on the other side of the park one Saturday in July. Lately, I have been going out to the lakes on Thursday nights with an informal, paddle-what-you-brought kind of group. Last Thursday, I met two great blue Herons, one very fast beaver or maybe it was two slower beavers, numerous Canadian geese, a married couple in a canoe out fishing and a lady visiting from Seattle Washington.
Everyone seemed to be having a good time.
Questions? Use the email. If not see you next Thursday...
The Phillips gasoline station on the west side of the highway 1.8 miles south of the park entrance is a good place to buy a soda and use a flush toilet.
There are pit toilets by the beach area.
The "local" restaurant that would seem to go best with a paddle in the park is Catfish Corner. It is a small family owned and operated place where boots and blue jeans predominate. They do not look at you funny if you walk in with your "boat shorts" on.
The park has no fees for entry or boat ramp use.
The park is located about six miles north of Columbia, Missouri on highway 63 (the standard brown signs are out on 63).
The most commonly used put-in point is the boat launch. The boat launch is a paved parking lot and a concrete ramp. The ramp angle is shallow and the ramp surface is in good shape.