A Paddle on Martinez Lake on the Lower Colorado River
Martinez Lake is on the Arizona side of the lower Colorado River approximately 60 miles north of Yuma. Fisher's Landing on the south side of the lake is a "happening" place that is very popular with power boaters. Our concern about the power boat traffic had been the primary reason that we had hesitated to make the trip over from Tucson to see what kayaking on the lake was like. When we learned that there was a large cove on the northwest side of the lake that could be accessed from a ramp at a location called Meer's Point we decided that we would make the trip and check things out. Even if the paddling on the main lake did not pan out, we thought that the islands and channels near Meer's Point may be good enough.
This is a Google Earth View of the map section above. The image shows the development on the the northwest and southeast sides of the lake. Elsewhere the shore line seems pretty natural. Unfortunately, we would find that there are not many places to pull over and walk alng the shore. The vegetation is just too dense with no breaks.
Meer's Point is a day use area with shaded picnic spots, a couple of fishing platforms, and a small concrete boat ramp. The point is accessed by dirt roads from the Martinez Lake Road and the Red Cloud Mine Road.
When we were here in October, there was very little activity at Meer's Point. It was quite different from the action over at Fisher's Landing!
After our launch, we decided to cautiously make our way southward over to the main lake area. It was fun locating the channel that made the connection. The few power boats that we encountered were all traveling at very low speeds.
It was interesting to paddle past the develped areas along the way. Many of the lake side structures were quite elaborate.
Power boat traffic on the lake was not an issue. There were a couple of jet-skiers, but they never approached us. With an area of of approximately 400 acres, there was room on the lake for everyone. This was a view across the lake towards the Castle Dome Mountains to the east.
I do not believe that we have ever been to a location where there have been more "Coot" type birds. In addition to those, we spotted several cormorants and pelicans.
As we ventured south across the lake, my wife wanted to try her hand at paddling on the river, so we passed through the cut that connects to the river channel and made our way upstream. There was approximately a 3mph flow so there was some effort involved to make headway. At other locations near Picacho State Park several miles upstream, there are sandbars along the river to stop and walk around for a bit. There was only one sandbar here and it was occupied by a houseboat.
We paddled upstream to where we could have crossed the river to enter Ferguson Lake on the California side. But, it was our understanding that that section of the Lake was closed for seasonal wildlife protection and we did not make the turn. It was a pleasant drift back downstream.
This is the passage that connects the river to Martinez Lake. Without a map, or prior knowledge, it would be difficult to know that there was a large lake on through the cut.
On our return, we passed by the opposite side of the island in the lake, and becausse there was no wind, paddled directly across the width of the lake. I had not paid particular attention to any landmarks that marked the pass from Meer's Point to Martinez Lake so I was glad that I had set my gps to record our track. That saved us paddling down several dead-end channels. This was the entrance that we wanted.
Our paddle on Martinez Lake, and the short section of the river, had been very pleasant and we were glad that we had made the trip. We will likely return to ride the river trail south to Squaw Lake. Another possibility may be to paddle down from Picacho State Park with this place as our destination.
After our paddle, we ventured over to Fisher's Landing where we had great cheeseburgers at the restaurant there.