Whether you’re riding a wave or paddling a cove, these are the best spots.
by Emily Debert & Nathan Bechtold
Wake sports demand just the right spot: quiet water without heavy boating traffic, so the boat driver delivers a perfect wake and the wakeboarder/surfer carves the waves undisturbed. If you’re looking for an expert in wake sports on Lake of the Ozarks, look no further than Blake the Wake. Yes, that’s actually what everyone calls him, and he shared his favorite wakeboarding spots across the Lake…
September is the Lake’s best-kept secret, especially for watersports. The coves are quiet, the water’s still warm, the weather is perfect, and you can ride ’til your legs are rubber. Cancel Friday, grab a board, and get out there!
Blake the Wake’s Hottest Wakeboarding Spots:
Long Cove – Long Cove is located on the Grand Glaize Arm at the 1 MM near the State Park. This cove is great for water sports in that there are no docks, no seawalls, and no bounce-back from wakes. A lot of people choose to wake board/surf here.
Girl Scout Cove – Girl Scout Cove is also located on the Grand Glaize Arm at the 1 MM near the State Park and is close to Parkview Bay Condos. This cove is one of the least busy coves on the weekends that is still good for water sports. One side of this cove has docks and seawalls, so though it isn’t as ideal as Long Cove, it makes for a good second best.
Party Cove – Party Cove is definitely the busiest on the weekends out of the cove on the Grand Glaize Arm. Located on the 5 MM, it has no docks, no seawalls, and a good depth for water sports.
LINN CREEK COVE
Linn Creek Cove is on the 31 MM. It’s quiet during the week and less busy than Possum Hollow on the weekends. This is where Blake learned to ski and wake board.
Possum Hollow – This cove is also known as “Fish & Co. Cove.” It’s on the 31 MM and at the “four corners” near Lovers Leap. Possum Hollow is only good for water sports during the week because people cove out on the weekends.
The Gravois Arm is a pretty great location overall for water sports. Indian Creek Cove, Mill Creek Cove, and Boque Bay Cove are all prime spots during the week. The Gravois Arm has become more populated with boaters in recent years, so check to make sure you’re not rocking a cove-out if you head to a Gravois cove on the weekends.
Little Niangua River – There’s some great wakeboarding on the Little Niangua Arm: headed upstream where the Niangua Arm splits, go right onto the Little Niangua River. You’ve got a long way to run, and this part of the Lake is famously calm and quiet: perfect conditions for riding a wave.
Blake says: don’t wakeboard/surf on the main channel.
Paddlers need calm water too, but they have a distinct advantage over wakeboarders and wakesurfers: they can go pretty much anywhere. Narrow, shallow, winding coves that disappear into a creek are not only passable, sometimes they’re preferable! Paddling the Lake of the Ozarks can offer a slow-paced, serene escape from the workaday week, on your terms. Many boaters just enjoy a good paddle in their cove, but for those without a Lake house or who are looking for a little variety, here are a few spots on the Lake that are especially well-suited for paddle sports.
HA HA TONKA COVE
This is the Lake of the Ozarks paddlesports mecca. A traditionally calm cove, it appeals to boaters looking to cove out, as well as paddlers, who know there are plenty of protected and scenic spots. The Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance has also installed a kayak launch ramp here, and in 2019, One Source Services installed (gratis) a new, innovative kayak dock that eases the always-awkward process of climbing in and out of your wobbly plastic boat!
Follow LOWA on Facebook and at lowatershed.org — they host annual paddling events such as the Niangua Darter and the Osage Howler, as well as monthly kayak meetups at Ha Ha Tonka Cove.
Down on the Glaize Arm, Public Beach #1 in Lake of the Ozarks State Park offers open access to the water for powerboaters and paddlers alike. There’s plenty of parking and easy access at the boat ramp, but be careful when you get down to the waterline: it can be pretty slick!
When you launch, you can go downstream—to the right, towards the main Lake—and follow the aquatic trail (a map is viewable near the boat ramp). But the best route is upstream, where you’ll avoid pretty much all boating traffic. If you plan to go upstream, paddle most of the way across the channel right after launching, to avoid the sandbar that hugs the shore upstream from the boat ramp. A mile-and-a-half upstream, you’ll hit a series of little islands, and depending on the time of year, the water may get too shallow to navigate. That’s a good enough reason to turn back, but if you can find a way through, it’s possible to paddle all the way to the Swinging Bridge.
THE SWINGING BRIDGE
One of the most famous (or infamous) landmarks at Lake of the Ozarks, there are actually multiple swinging bridges, but the one that makes a lovely paddling spot is the second bridge on Swinging Bridges Road. Hold your breath and cross the bridges by car if you dare—it’s quite a thrill to feel them sway! After the second bridge, take the little road to the right, and it’ll put you in a parking area right down on the creek. From there, you can put the kayak in at the sandbar, and enjoy a unique and historic paddle! This is where the Lake really becomes the Grand Glaize Creek. Across the creek and just upstream—before you go underneath the swinging bridge—paddle into Mill Creek and you might be able to reach the first swinging bridge, depending on the water depth. Back on the main Grand Glaize Creek, keep paddling upstream and you’ll find a giant sandbar. This is a can’t-miss spot for paddlers who want a change of scenery and a little excitement!
LITTLE NIANGUA RIVER
Put in your kayak, or rent a canoe for a river paddling adventure on the picturesque waters of the Little Niangua. The two main paddling hubs are Cedar Camp (cedarcamp.net) and Little Niangua Campground (lakeozarkscampgrounds.com). You can rent a canoe or bring your own, and both places have multiple spots where they’ll shuttle you to, so you can put in, and paddle back to where you began. Paddle trips range from 2 to 14 miles.