Ozarks- Southwest, MO

I’ve wanted to float the Spring River in Missouri not Arkansas, but all my research is indicating this is a class II-III in some sections (I think it may be because the river is so technical and has quite a bit of deadfall)… Has anyone floated this river- or the Big Sugar Creek, Little Sugar Creek? If you have, is it nice and does it really have class II and III?

Thanks for the help!

Haven’t paddled them…
But I know people who have, and I’ve looked at them from various access points. Spring is ledgy, lots of solid bedrock and sharp drops, from what I’ve been told, but the Class 2 and 3 rating comes mainly from brush and deadfall obstructions during higher water levels. Big Sugar is mostly just fast, narrow, twisting riffles with gravelly bottoms, I doubt that it’s true class 2. Little Sugar is mostly a high water run only, and is similar to Big Sugar but a little steeper.

sw mo
I live in SW MO - have not paddled the Spring but want to. From the points I’ve seen very little class anything. As stated above would be mostly from dead fall and high water.

Big Sugar is a very nice creek with a number of excellent fishing holes. Depending on level, you may be walking over some shallow shoals. Nearby that is Elk River another great stream except on weekends starting around labor day when all the drunk trash are out. ( I don’t understand what makes people wanna do that)

McDonald county had to create some specific laws about women keeping their tops on! Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends it gets so bad that the Dept of Conservation brings in lots of extra Agents to police the river.

Do you live in this area. Send a PM and maybe we can get together. I need to get my new canoe out. If it is decent weather on next Sat 1/26 I hope to get the hull wet somewhere around here.


i have family
Nearby in Neosho and Bentonville and was wondering about the elk. next time im in the area im bringing the canoe with but it might not be till early summer before im that far west…

other rivers
Some other SW Mo and NW AR rivers to consider are 1. Indian creek just north of the Elk not as crowded and a good fast current. 2. The Kings river in AR just east of Eureka Springs. Nice scenery not too crowded. 3. War eagle creek east of Rogers - the section from gar hole to War Eagle mill is a very nice float or paddle and has very little boat trafic.

Indian Creek

Can you give locations of access for indian creek and War Eagle? I have never been on them.

Can you take out at the mill on War Eagle?



ive visited
the war eagle mill on a few occasions and thought that it would be a nice place to paddle … i think i passed over indian creek on the highway that runs between bentonville and neosho but im not sure… i think i was on hw72 south

HWY 71

yes you would have passed over indian creek, elk river, sugar creek and few non-navigable creeks on th missouri side on HWY 71 south of Neosho.


Long time ago
I paddled the upper Spring River for about 20 miles below Baptist Camp maybe 30 years ago. I remember hauling the boat over log jams and making our way through cattle standing in the river munching on aquatic vegetation. Near the end of the trip, we T-boned on an old mill dam near the Larussell access and put a nice crease in the bow plate of my friends aluminum canoe (and my shin from the thwart).

There is a sewage treatment plant and Tyson factory in Carthage and I’ve never been tempted to float the lower river. The Spring traverses a broad valley and lacks bluffs or much scenery. It did have fairly clear water and good current but I’m sure much has changed. The Ledgy Spring River is in Arkansas below Mammoth Spring near Hardy

The real plus for this river is that it is an easy drive from the Kansas City area. I’d ask around locally and make short exploratory trips in case of logjam portages.

From the south, you’d have to pass several more attractive streams already mentioned. One I might add is Flat Creek near Cape Fair and Table Rock Lake.

When looking at the Missouri Ozarks Waterways guide, remember Oz Hawksley wrote that book in 1965. While some information has been updated, the level and nature of difficulty is 40+ years old. Here’s a link on the Spring:


A good investment
A Paddler’s Guide to Missouri

Based on & expanded from Missouri Ozark Waterways by Oz Hawksley

Available at many bookstores & also available from: Missouri Dept. of Conservation

P O Box 180

Jefferson City, Mo. 65102


The Spring River is on page 62.