Story by Nicole Flood | Apr 26, 2018

Spend a weekend (or more) at beautiful Sugarloaf Vineyard Kayaking.

If you’re looking for a scenic outdoor getaway this summer, look no further than Sugarloaf Vineyard Kayaking in Camdenton. You’ll find Ward and Barb Morris’ lakeside property just an hour’s drive down Highway 54 from Jefferson City. Sugarloaf is a perfect destination for families, couples, friends, and even small business retreats — from kayaking to enjoying the beautiful sights of the Big Niangua River and the Lake of the Ozarks, Sugarloaf offers a little bit of everything.

“The vineyard lakeshore is probably the best location for leisurely kayaking along the entire 1,150 miles of the Lake of the Ozarks’ riverways,” Barb says. “It’s unique in that the waters are between two and six feet deep most of the way, so larger boats that create big wakes rarely go there.”

The property is located on the quiet, calm waters at the mouth of the Big Niangua arm of the Lake. Paddlers can rent single and double kayaks in four-hour time blocks. Sugarloaf’s water-level, sit-on-top style kayaks are perfect for novice and intermediate skill levels alike. “We’re a great launching spot because you can paddle either direction, upstream or downstream, and there’s almost no current,” says Barb. “Paddle to the left and explore Ha Ha Tonka State Park spring just 30 minutes away or stop at a nice pebble beach and swim or picnic along the way. Paddle to the right into the Big Niangua tributary to view abundant birdlife along the river: white egrets, diving cormorants, herons, hawks, eagles, mallards, and more. You can even paddle right inside Onyx Cave.”

For those who love to fish and want to drop a line in coves too shallow for a boat, you can bring your gear and fish from a kayak. Kayaking is also a great, easy adventure for children and grandchildren. Pack your own lunch and enjoy paddling to an area to picnic and enjoy reuniting with nature.

The Morris family also rents five vacation homes at the Lake; two located within the Sugarloaf property and three across Highway 54 at Old Kinderhook Resort. All five homes offer guests free kayak use and access to the shore picnic area. The clubhouse also has table tennis, board games, TV, and internet, as well as other activities. The rental homes range from one to three bedrooms and have a rustic yet modern design aesthetic. The Adirondack chairs, picnic tables, bed frames and furniture, and tongue-and-groove ceiling panels were fashioned by a local Mennonite community using 100 red cedar trees harvested from the property to make way for grapevines.

“The vineyard property is a fabulous destination for families or couples looking to get away to the natural landscape of the Lake of the Ozarks,” Barb says. Besides kayaks, they also have a canoe, paddleboat, and a 6-foot by 14-foot floating chill raft for rental home guests. Each house has its own fire pit, and the lakeshore park also has a large fire pit to enjoy s’mores by. Sugarloaf also has plenty of yard games to play at the park and, new this year, a three-hole disc golf course. The nearby Ha Ha Tonka State Park provides scenic hiking, and golfers can enjoy teeing off at the neighboring Lake Valley Country Club or the Tom Weiskopf Old Kinderhook Resort courses.

For Ward and Barb, the evolution of the Sugarloaf grounds — from a fruit orchard to a vineyard by the water — is very satisfying. “Our children were raised on this property, and now our grandchildren return and enjoy the Lake lifestyle, from swimming to fishing to tubing and other water activities,” Barb says. “Now, our rental house guests and the public have the opportunity to experience the same.”

Being able to share the property and beauty of the area with guests all these years has brought the Morris family a sense of calm. “The old adage that life passes by in a blink of the eye is so true,” says Barb. “But somehow, here at Sugarloaf, life seems to stand still, immersed in nature and wildlife and good times. We love it that our guests can get away and enjoy our little slice of heaven, just like our family has done for 33 years.

To learn more or book your next weekend getaway, visit sugarloafwinery.com.

The History of Sugarloaf

Ward and Barb Morris have lived here for 33 years and acquired the land where the vineyard and lakeshore park sits about 20 years ago. The Sugarloaf property has been an area rich in beauty and abundance since 1958, when it began as an apple, pear, and peach orchard. As the orchard ran its life cycle for the next 40 years, it paved the way for Ward and Barb to plant a vineyard. They began growing grapevines in 2007. From 2013 to 2017, the vineyard offered wine tastings along with kayaking and vacation rental homes. Though Ward and Barb retired from the tasting venue in early 2018, Sugarloaf Vineyard Kayaking continues to operate the vacation homes and kayaking operations. Barb loves to see their guests’ faces light up when they return from kayaking, and Ward still tends the grapevines to make a select or reserve wine each year to share with their family and friends.

Date Night on the Water

Whether you’re looking forward to a nice picnic overlooking the water or spending the day paddling in a double kayak, Sugarloaf Vineyard Kayaking is the perfect place for a unique date night. “Once per month, we offer a moonlight experience with food and a paddle to Onyx Cave and back. The Lake is lit up by the full moon and we put lights on each vessel,” says Barb. You can then cap off your outing by visiting The Trophy Room restaurant at Old Kinderhook across the road from Sugarloaf for a delicious meal with great atmosphere.

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