The Casual Kayaker   -    Location reports of my flatwater kayaking

My Rating System

I thought a simple rating system might be useful as a quick overview of a location. I'm sure I'll refine this concept as I go along. Presently these are the rating categories I'm using, with each having a scale of 1-5, with 1 being NOT good, to 5 being very good.

Scenic Quality, Wildlife, Water Quality, Quietude, Boating Traffic

Explanation of each rated attribute:
  • Scenic Quality - Amount of interesting local natural scenery (imposing mountain cliffs, cool waterfalls, trees, etc. will get high scores, while too many buildings, docks, marinas, logged out trees and non-nature views will average it closer to a "1" (5 is best, 1 is worst) - Note: can be affected by seasonal factors.
  • Wildlife - Presence and frequency of spotting wildlife will gain points, with 5 being best. (This particular rating will as a rule pull most places down, because wildlife is not something you'll get much of in most places. Do not let this particular score skew your view of a location if wildlife is not a priority for you. It is a priority for me as a nature and wildlife photographer, so I've included it.)
  • Water Quality - It would hardly be fair to score down a cypress swamp with absolutely no trash just because the water is naturally brown and tanic, or give a high score to a clear mountain lake with lots of trash floating around. This is an overall perception of the pleasantness and naturalness of the location. A "5" is the most pleasing, while a low score is more indicative of smells, trash (water and shorelines) and obvious pollutants. Seasonal factors and water level conditions may affect this.
  • Quietude - From virtually no sound pollution (a "5") to motor boats, cars and highways, and industrial noise (pulling it closer to a "1").
  • Boating Traffic - This is an indication of the AMOUNT of traffic and how it negatively impacts the paddling experience. A "5" is NO motorized traffic while a "1" is lots of boats, skiers, wakes and lack of courtesy. (I won't consider trolling motors as motorized unless there is a great preponderance of boats with them simply cluttering up the view)
The highest possible score is 25, lowest possible score is 5. Above 15 is "above average". A score of 18 or higher would be a very nice spot indeed. The "Wildlife" score will pull nearly all locations down, so a location scoring perfect (5) on everything but having practically no wildlife will only score a 21. Use the scores for the qualities that are important to you and just ignore the others. All this is of course subject to adjustment as I fine tune it.

Next article ›››    (B. Everett) Jordan Lake - Farrington Point (northwest finger) - June 18, 2011
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When I first began kayaking I found a most helpful blog by Tom Haynie that aided me greatly in finding and choosing new flatwater locations. His blog was infinitely more detailed and useful than anything I found on kayaking forums. I quickly resolved to share my own impressions of locations I've visited, including details I believe to be important and helpful, in hopes of providing practical information to others. I sincerely hope you find something useful and helpful here. (For more location reports visit Tom's blog at

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