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Learn to paddle and celebrate new water trail at Finger Lakes State Park

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Finger Lakes State Park is marking National Trails Day Saturday, June 7, 2014 by dedicating a new trail, according to news reporter Tom Uhlenbrock. Mr. Uhlenbrock issued a special for the Columbia Daily Tribune in Columbia, Missouri on June 1, 2014 announcing the dedication. He also advised anyone planning to attend the ceremony “If you want to explore it, bring your water shoes instead of hiking boots.”

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Finger Lakes State Park is North of Columbia off Highway 63. According to Mr. Uhlenbrock “Finger Lakes State Park gets its name from the slender lakes formed when pits left by a prior coal-mining operation were dammed and filled with clear water. Peabody Lake is the largest and now has a 4.5-mile water trail that lets paddlers explore the narrow waterways.”

In addition, “The trail is divided into two loops marked with red and blue buoys and a .40-mile trail connecting the two marked with white buoys. The park rents kayaks and canoes for visitors who don't have their own but want to paddle the lakes and enjoy a chance meeting with wildlife.”

An added attraction according Debbie Newby, the park's superintendent “Are the beavers, otters, raccoons and lots of species of birds. I've seen a deer swim across the water."

Finger Lakes State Park Superintendent Debbie Newby and staff member Wes Almond try out all the new kayaks at Finger Lakes State Park.

Included in Tom Uhlenbrock’s “Special to the Tribune” is the fact that “Missouri has been named the Best Trails State in the nation for its wealth of trails, including almost 1,000 miles in state parks and historic sites. Missouri State Parks has declared 2014 as the Year of the Trail.”

In an effort to encourage people to come out and participate Mr. Uhlenbrock reminded readers of the Tribune and other Missourians that “The dedication ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday also will point out that paddling the new trail will add mileage to participants in Gov. Jay Nixon's 100 Missouri Miles Challenge, which urges residents to hike, ride and paddle in the outdoors.”

In regards to the 100 Missouri Miles Challenge, Starting on March 20, 2014 Governor Nixon challenged Missourians to complete “100 Missouri Miles” of physical activity by the end of the year. “Whether you run, walk, bike, paddle, or roll, everyone can participate. This initiative is a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, improve your health and – best of all – have fun with family and friends.” Anyone interested in participating are advised to visit www.MO.gov.

According to Finger Lakes State Park Superintendent Debbie Newby, “Finger Lakes is one of nine Missouri state parks offering free kayaking instruction this summer. The Learn2 Paddle programs are scheduled on six Saturdays in July and August. For a list of the times and dates, visit mostateparks.com and click on Learn2 Paddle.”

According to Bill Bryan Director of State Parks, “Kayaks or canoes are available for rent at 17 state parks on lakes and rivers.”

He informed news reporter Tom Uhlenbrock that ‘"Kayaking is the second-fastest-growing outdoor activity in the country, and we want to provide this option to our visitors.’ We're making it simple to try a new activity and experience Missouri State Parks in a new way.’

Tom Uhlenbrock, a former travel editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is a writer and photographer for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Division of State Parks.

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