By Kayak Jay
Arizona paddlers have a real friend in Terry Gerber,
the ranger for Lake Pleasant Park. He is a tri-athlete
and a paddle racer.
In addition to his athletic prowess, he loves to
showcase his park. He set up the Lake Pleasant Paddlers
to explore the resources of the park.
It is an informal group with no dues, and no rules —
except to have a good time and respect the park. Gerber
schedules a monthly paddle for the group and notifies
everyone by e-mail of the opportunity.
The paddles are typically held on week days to avoid
the heavy powerboat traffic on the weekends.
In the past year, Gerber led paddles to the Lake
Pleasant Marina, the new Waddell Dam, and hidden coves
around the lake. He guides the way from a 14-foot,
sit-on-top and sets a pace comfortable for all levels of
A Typical Trip
A typical trip would include everything from
entry-level deck boats and sit-on-tops, to high-end sea
kayaks, and all ages and both sexes. During each tour,
Gerber provides knowledge of the history and features of
the area and points out the wildlife.
This spring he led a special tour up the Agua Fria
arm of the lake. The area had been closed for years to
protect an eagle nest.
This year the resident eagles did not mate, so the
county opened the area to boating. It was a real treat
to visit this long-closed area of the lake and actually
see the eagles. People came in from all over Arizona to
participate in the May 11 tour.
We met at the North Boat Ramp at the backside of Lake
Pleasant for the tour. Because of the distance to the
upper Agua Fria, the Maricopa County flatboat was used
to ferry 21 kayaks, one canoe, 24 paddlers, and three
dogs to a landing near the mouth of the Agua Fria.
The ride on the flatboat was a little over an hour
and most delightful. The group worked together to load
and unload the paddle boats, and we were quickly
We paddled several miles up the river, seeing the
resident eagles and large jumping fish. Gerber landed on
a small beach near a high mesa.
Visiting Prehistoric Ruins
While some paddlers remained at the beach to swim and
relax, Gerber led the more adventuresome two miles up an
ancient trail to visit prehistoric Indian ruins at the
top of the mesa. The view from the ruins was spectacular
and provided a commanding overlook of all activity in
The ruins consisted of a fortification along the edge
of the cliffs forming the mesa, and the remains of
houses and storage areas inside the walls. The top of
the mesa is only accessible from a narrow trail at one
point on the cliffs.
The inhabitants built a "keyhole" into the
fortification walls to allow sighting down the trial to
identify anyone coming to the village. The hole was
perfectly formed to protect the inhabitants and still
allow action against any unwanted visitors.
We made a side trip on the way down from the ruins to
see a large rock covered with petroglyphs. After a quick
snack, we paddled across the river to watch a herd of
wild burros grazing near the shore.
As we paddled back down the river, the flatboat
appeared. It paced the paddlers for a while, and then
landed on a small rocky beach. The boats were quickly
reloaded for the trip back.
On the return to the North Ramp, the flat boat
cruised by a small island full of wildlife. The total
trip was about six hours.
For more information about the Lake Pleasant Paddlers
call Terry Gerber at (602) 372-7460 x 202, or e-mail him
firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need to rent a
kayak, call Thor at (480) 968-1140, and you can always
reach KayakJay at (602) 359-1354, e-mail:
You may reach Arizona Boating and Watersports at:
480/947-6219 or 619/523-3091
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