South Missouri Canoeing

Can anyone help with some advice about where to canoe in South Central Missouri when the water levels are low? Next weekend we had planned to do the Buffalo, but the river above Kyles Landing are below recommended levels. We might just stay in Missouri on some of the spring fed streams. Are there any sections of the spring fed rivers that might offer some faster water and at least a hint of some class II sections? Or would we be better off by doing some of the lower runs on the Buffalo?

I suggest this one…

– Last Updated: Mar-12-05 5:40 PM EST –

If the Buffalo water level stays low, and you want to try something in south central Missouri, that's not crowded, has clear spring fed water,
is mostly class 1 but has a few low level class 2 spots.........try the Eleven Point River.

Put in: Greer Spring access, below the bridge at Hwy 19.

Nice places to stop; take a break, eat a snack, and check out the scenery:
Turner's Mill, site of old mill & spring
Boze Mill, site of old mill & spring

All campsites are marked with signs; keep an eye out for the signs, or camp on gravel bar, your option.

Take out: Riverton, Hwy 160

Total mileage: 26.4

Down below the put in at Greer(about 1/4 mile) there is a fork in the river. Stay left; the right side sometimes jams up with strainers.

Further downstream is a place called Mary Decker.
There are boulders forming a line all the way across the river there. Put there to stop logs when the timber in that area was being logged. You'll know it when you see it. Might want to check it out; could be strrainers there.

Approximately 1/4 mile below Boze Mill is a ledge/drop with some fast moving water; it is called Hall's Bay Chute. Might check it for strainers too.

Generally not a dangerous river by any means, but it has put more than one intermediate paddler in the water when they got over-confident, and lazy.

Good shuttle runners/decent price: Hufstedlers at Riverton, if they're open.

Will probably be down there myself next monday.


P.S. Two other options in same general area are the Jacks Fork, and the Current River. Let me know if I can be of more help; I know all 3 rivers very well.

North Fork of the White
Hi Bob,

Thank you for your reply!

I was just discussing the Eleven Point with a friend when your message appeared.

Have you done the North Fork of the White? A web page on that river states that it has more rapids than the other rivers you cited: “If this river is not enough for you, the very nearby are Bryant’s Creek, a tributary of the North Fork, as well as the Current, Jacks Fork, Eleven Point, Saint Francis and Black Rivers, all of which have very similar characteristics, though none has the number of rapids offered by the North Fork.”

Does this sound accurate to you?

Thank you!


The North Fork
of the White from Hammond Camp to Dawt is a very pretty run. The only spot that I think is worthy of note is “The Falls”. There is some fast water but nothing to get anxious over. I don’t know what the books say but I wouldn’t class this more than a 1. I have taken my wife down some of this and she didn’t have any trouble. She even ran the falls. She may kayak twice a year. I have seen an 80 year old with plenty of experience dump in the falls. It was bad judgement trying to go through too close to another boat and he couldn’t see the rock. Plenty of springs and places to stop. Some will overnight around Blair Bridge and go on to Dawt.

I have not been above Hammond Camp but it is on my list. I hope that this helps you. thebob may have some other information as well.

Next week, Saturday, some of us are going on the Li’l St. Francis. A day trip with a take out at Hwy E on the St. Francis. This stretch is more challenging than the North Fork. If you are in the ST. Louis area email me for information.


North Fork of the White…
You will see nothing of consequence as far as rapids on the North Fork of the White. There is just as much moving water on the Eleven Point.

Another thing the Eleven Point has going for it is that it is a National Scenic Riverway. Much of the property along the North Fork of the White is private property, and many of the land owners do not take kindly to trespassing. How much moving water you find will depend a lot on how much rain is received between now & next weekend. All rivers mentioned have some pretty scenery, but none of those mentioned have what I would describe as “rapids”. They are all class I & a few, very low class II. All are done on a regular basis during the summer, by weekend “river dorks”, so drunk they couldn’t pat their butt with both hands at the same time.

If you “really” want rapids; wait till after a heavy rain & then go check out the upper Buffalo(aka Hailstone), Mulberry, Big Piney, Cossatot, and Richland Creek in Arkansas.

Want real rapids in Missouri; after heavy rains check out the St Francis, from Missouri Hwy 72 to Hwy D. Those mentioned can go anywhere from class 2 to class 5 depending on the amount of rain they get. If you go out on “any” of those after heavy rain, you had better have your act together.


North Fork of the White

Thank you for your comments. This helps a bunch. I “really” do not want anything more than a class II experience considering my limited paddling skills. But it would be nice to challenge and build on those skills with something more than flat water paddles. The scenery is also very much a consideration. I don’t want to be so challenged that I have to devote all my attention to the water.

The info about the private properties on the North Fork helps out. I checked out a private campground and was surprised that they charge a rent on “our” boats even if we do our own shuttles. That is in addition to their daily camping fees. Guess that is one way to exclude the low floaters from the high floaters.

Jacks Fork
Just checked the stream gages, and the upper Jacks Fork is flowing about 90 cfs. That’s floatable, though a little low if you like good rapids. Jacks Fork is probably high class I at that level, but there isn’t a prettier little river in MO.

Agree on Jacks Fork

– Last Updated: Mar-13-05 12:33 AM EST –

In my opinion, the prettiest section & the most fun to paddle is from Buck Hollow, Hwy 17 to Alley Springs. The section from the Prongs at Hwy Y to Buck Hollow is nice too, but you have to catch the water level up a little for that section.
A stop at Jam Up Cave on the river is a must in my opinion. A stop at Alley Springs after you take out is also suggested. It's a beauty.
The section from Eminence to Two Rivers is one to avoid. Too much pollution from houses along the river, the City of Eminence, and the
massive area of horse stalls near the river, just below Eminence. It literally stinks.


Jack’s Fork
Al and Bob,

Thanks for the advice on Jack’s Fork. This was also an option on our list.

With no significant rain forecast to bring water levels up before March 17, and with levels continuing on the down slope, what is the lowest levels you would recommend doing Jack’s Fork? Is it getting close to the no go zone?

My rule of thumb for small, rocky rivers like the Jacks Fork is, anything under 75 cfs and you’ll be scraping bottom on the sharper drops, so it won’t be as much fun. But I’ve floated the Jacks Fork in a solo canoe at levels below 50 cfs. The canoe rentals won’t rent canoes below about that level, because they get too many complaints about having to drag canoes over the rocks (and it’s tough on canoe bottoms).

Al, Your Rule to the Test

Thanks for sharing that. We will soon put your rule to the test on Jack’s Fork.

Our big problem is marking some dates on the calendar and not having the flexibility to break from the calendar. The rains in West Plains brings gains to the drains.

Eleven Point
I’ll second the Eleven Point as a beautiful run. I did many an overnighter on that river when I lived in MO.

Class 2 is a stretch for the rating, though. Perhaps when the water is up in the spring there might be some waves, but at normal levels it’s all just fast riffles.

Eleven Point…
The Eleven Point is about the only river in the Ozarks that has plenty of water year-round that comes close to class 2. All the streams that have legitimate class 2 and above water in the Ozarks are seasonal. The St. Francis, as somebody mentioned, is the largest stream in Missouri that has true class 3 and above, and it holds enough water to keep it runnable throughout most of a normal spring. There are some wicked little creeks in Missouri that will just about awe you if you catch them after a big rain, but by the next day they will be back to being too low to run.

Spring River probably comes the closest to having interesting rapids in dry weather. Some nice ledges and falls on it…but even it gets too low to make it over some of them in the summer. It was the river that finally wore a hole in the bottom of my first canoe, an aluminum Grumman.

Which Spring River?
Hi Al,

Is the Spring River you mention the one that flows into Arkansas in South Central Missouri? Which section do you paddle?



Looks Like Al and Bob…
…have given you lots of good advice. The Spring River that Al_A is referring to is in Arkansas. Starts just accross the border from Thayer, MO at a little town called Mammoth Spring. Mammoth and Hardy, AR are the two “Jumping off” points for the Spring. Lots of ledges and small waterfalls. Here’s a link that will help, you can click on each section for descriptions. He also has nice descriptions of MO rivers, and some in TX, OK, and CO. WW

How Much Rain is Needed?
Bob and Al,

How much rain is needed to have any impact on raising water in any of the streams? There are a few POPs (probability of precip.)in the forecast this week. We got our fingers crossed and trying to keep all options open as we watch the river gauge data. (Reminds me of when I was a youngster as we studied the tide charts and watched for swells in the Bay of Panama. Kind of the same but inland.)



– Last Updated: Mar-15-05 10:32 AM EST –

Don't know when you plan on being on the river, and not sure exactly which river you plan on doing? Sounds as if you have decided on the Jacks Fork?
If that is the case; it is possible that the Jack's Fork area "will" get a little rain in the next few days. I don't think the amount of rain that is forecast will make any noticeable change. The river would probably benefit from a couple of inches; they haven't received much rain down there in the past week.
Just use some common sense when you camp on the Jacks Fork if it's raining, or heavy rain is in the forecast. If you camp on a gravel bar; make sure it is high enough to allow you time to get you gear together & move if the river starts rising rapidly. Make sure you have an escape route to higher ground; don't set up in an area with tall bluffs on both sides of the river if heavy rain is predicted. I don't think you will encounter any problems, but better safe than sorry.


How does the Current compare?
Looking for a five day or so trip where the water is liquid.

Aiming for the Buffalo but its too early to tell, we’d like to do the whole thing. Starting date of April 7. We will wait till a couple of days before before deciding which direction to aim for.

Tired of moving hard water, plus ice out isnt for another six weeks or so.

Not Really Dependent on Rain
Current has more springs, therfore; less dependent on rainfall. Even in the driest years, there’s always enough water below Cedar Grove. Rain or not you should have enough to put in at the two uppermost accesses, Inman Hollow (also called Tan Vat Access) and Baptist Camp. Beautiful river, lots of bluffs and springs, my personal favorite because I know it so well. Not quite as wild as the Buffalo or Jacks Fork, but you’ll have plenty of soltitude this time of the year. WW

totally different rivers…
Like WW said, the Current always has enough water. Five days or so of paddling would allow you to put in at the upper end and probably get down to somewhere around Van Buren or Big Spring if you push it a bit…or if you want to average about 10 miles a day and take your time, it’ll get you to Two Rivers, maybe.

The Current is spectacular in its own way. No other river in the Ozarks, or much of anywhere else, has so many big and beautiful springs. It’s all class 1, but it moves right along and you don’t have to paddle through any dead water to speak of.

The Buffalo is highly dependent upon rainfall–even the lower end gets too low for easy floating at the end of a dry summer. But with normal spring rainfall most or all of it will be floatable in early April. It’s quite simply the most spectacularly beautiful river in the Ozarks.