Been watching the lower river drop daily, if it doesn’t rain there today, I will probably need an alternative. Ironically, have gotten about 8 "here at home over the last 4-5 days, flood warnings everywhere! The lower river(planning on Maumee to Rush) according to buffaloriverandrain site, has just dropped from the lowest side of “optimum” to highest end of “low but floatable”. Hwy 65; 4.54, Hwy 14; 3.6. Anyone floated this section in the low but floatable range? Rain is predicted there today and I will keep watching; planning to leave in the am. Any alternatives? Coming from NE TX.
I paddled to Hwy 14 @ 2.5
Leigh, I checked the historic river level gauge to be sure, but I paddled from Maumee South to Dillard's Ferry in November 2005 when the historic data says the level was approx 2.5. I seem to recall the outfitter telling me it was less than 2.0 at the time, but I don't remember my exact date. I went despite naysayer's warnings it was too low and had no problems. I picked my line carefully and never had to get out of the boat. However, I was on a day trip...not fully loaded with gear.
I don't mind a bit of scraping on the bottom...and there was a little of that in a couple of locations only. I didn't paddle past Dillard's Ferry, but my impression is that the water would have been fine down to Rush, also. It's your call, but everyone told me not to go...and I did anyway and had a great time.
The folks at the Arkansas Canoe Club board are fine folks, but I can tell you what advice you will get there. They are mostly whitewater paddlers and if the water is on the low end of floatable, they most likely tell you not to go. They will be very negative about low water levels. Whitewater paddlers generally aren't content with just going downriver as I am. What is an acceptable water level on the river can be very subjective. For me, if I can paddle without having to get out and drag the boat, it was high enough. Good luck with your trip.
I think you’ll be fine…
I always go to the USGS gage site and go by what it says the flow in cubic feet per second is, not the level in feet, because the cfs helps me relate the flow to rivers I'm familiar with. I've done multi-day floats on the lower Buffalo at less than 75 cfs, which is a LOT lower than what it is right now. At that level, I did a lot of scraping bottom, and walked about a third of the riffles in a heavily loaded solo canoe. At levels over 150 cfs (it's 277 cfs at Gilbert now) you shouldn't even scrape bottom much.
Also, fact is that the river between Gilbert and Buffalo Point is easier to float at low water levels than the lower end of the river below Buffalo Point and Rush. The river picks up very little volume below Bear Creek in the Gilbert area--Big Creek about 10 miles below Rush is the only other significant tributary--so what you have immediately below Bear Creek is pretty much the amount of water you'll have the rest of the way down. But the riffles get wider the farther down you go, so wider riffles with no increase in volume means shallower riffles below Buffalo Point.
for the vital information.