Muddy Creek Paddle on Lake Arthur

My brother and I headed to the eastern end of Lake Arthur to paddle the area of the lake where Muddy Creek, its main feeder creek, enters the lake.  It's a beautiful area that is not as busy at other parts of Moraine State Park and the three "fingers" that comprise this part of the lake are very shallow, perfect paddling for kayaks and canoes.

We started our paddle on the lake and headed up to Muddy Creek on the northernmost finger of the eastern end of the lake.  The area along the lake is mostly wooded but is surrounded by rolling hills dotted with farms adding a very rural feel to the area.

As you continue to paddle further up the finger, the lake begins to narrow and lily pads start to get more common.  We paddled past Canada Geese, Osprey, and many other water birds, although I wasn't able to get any good pictures.

According to the park maps, this dam is known as the "Duck Pond Dam" and I've heard a couple of explanations regarding why it was installed.  Some say it was to improve waterfowl habitat and others say that it was to stop an invasive minnow species from spawning in Muddy Creek.  Whatever the reason for the dam, most of the time the dam is "open" and does little other than get in the way.  But if you want to travel further up Muddy Creek, you have to portage around it (although my brother was able to sneak through a chute in his kayak, my canoe was just to wide though).

After portaging my canoe around the dam, we continued further into a swampy area.  The paddling was slow, but the lily pads weren't so dense we couldn't get through the first 100 yards or so.  

Eventually, the lily pads choked the stream channel so much that we couldn't go any further.  I literally couldn't paddle forward; the pads held my canoe in place.  The swamp does give way to a more pronounced stream channel where Muddy Creek meets the lake and one can paddle for a good distance up the stream without too many obstructions but we couldn't get that far.

We found this Beaver lodge along the eastern shore above the dam.  The water was only a few feet deep and clear, but unfortunately we didn't see any Beaver.

Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia) - 
We stopped for lunch at a spot along the lake shore where the forest was blanketed with violets and many other flowers.  Common Blue Violets, like all violets, are in their prime right now. 

Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica) - 
Spring Beautys are some of my favorite wildflowers but they probably won't be around for too much longer.  I recently read that Spring Beautys were a significant early spring food source for Native Americans, who would dig up the bulb-like "corm" and cook them much like potatos.

Smooth Yellow Violet (Viola pensylvanica) - 
Our area has a lot of native violets, especially white, blues, and yellow Violets.  The other species of yellow violet, Downy Yellow Violet (Viola pubescens) has "hairs" on its stem, whereas Smooth Yellow Violet do not.

Sessile-leaf Bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia) - 
When I took this picture, I thought the flower was a Lily similar to Trout Lily but as it turns out this is actually a different species entirely.  Apparently Bellworts are common in Eastern North America and derive their name for their nodding blossoms which resemble a bell. 

Canada Geese Feeding (Branta canadensis) - 
These Canada Geese were feeding not too far from where we ate lunch and didn't seem too concerned about us.  I like watching geese feed in the shallows and a lot of times they'll literally stick their butts straight up in the air while they dig for food on the lake bottom.

More Pictures:

Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica)

Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia)

Canada Geese (Branta canadensis)

Lake Arthur

Sessile-leaf Bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia)