Float #4: Meramec River

15 Apr

Woodson K. Woods to Scotts Ford

Meramec River
Crawford County, Missouri
Saturday, April 9
9 Miles

A Saturday with good weather and no plans leads to an impromptu float trip. The upper Meramec is a beautiful stretch of river located within an hour of my house. With no yak buddies joining us, we grabbed a shuttle from Green’s Canoe Rental just west of Steelville on Hwy. 8.

Preparing the boats at Woodson K. Woods

We put the boats in at Woodson K. Woods Conservation Area. There were a few other boaters in rental canoes ahead of us, so we chatted with some Master Naturalist workshop attendees while we waited for the others to get a head start. Unfortunately, we also found some broken glass bottles at the put in. Don’t bring glass to a river, people! It’s illegal, dangerous and really pisses me off. DW cleaned up the glass, which earned him several thank-you’s from the naturalist crowd.

Bluebells carpet the forest

Not far down from the put in the signs of spring were everywhere. The forested banks were carpeted with bluebells and other early bloomers. Many animals were out enjoying the weather as well.

Spiny Softshell Turtle

Bald Eagle in a nest

Bald Eagle

There were more turtle species out on the river than I had ever seen before. A whole group of spiny softshells were sunbathing on the bank and I also saw one huge snapping turtle straddling a log. We also saw two bald eagles on this trip. One of them was sitting in a nest; a first sighting for us. Unfortunately, the combination of the afternoon sun and my tiny digital camera made it impossible to get a good shot. The eagle didn’t leave the nest no matter how close I approached, but it did give me a couple steely glares! I wonder if the eggs had hatched yet?

One of the highlights of this trip is passing by Maramec Springs, one of the most beautiful spots on the river and home to Missouri’s 5th largest spring. Maramec Springs is also the site of the historic Maramec Iron Works, in operation from 1826 to the 1870s. The Maramec Iron Works played a big part in providing iron for Civil War cannon and gunships built in St. Louis. In 1938 the springs and surrounding area were turned over to the James Foundation, which to this day operates it as a private park open to the public. The Conservation Department also operates a trout park and hatchery on the grounds. This area is well worth a visit, both for the history and the beauty of the springs. Although the name of this park is spelled differently, the pronunciation is the same. The Meramec River has had many different names and spellings throughout history and this is one of the spots where an old spelling remains.

Water level view of Maramec Springs

Maramec Springs

The springs pump out an estimated 100 million gallons of 56˚ water every day. It’s best to do your swimming above the springs because the water gets really cold as soon as you pass the confluence! We did the rest of the float at a leisurely pace, 9 miles being a short day for the two of us.

View from a gravel bar

A perfect day on perfect water

A lackadasical paddle gave us plenty of time to enjoy the excellent weather and the burst of spring foliage. Downriver there are several caves high up in the bluffs and tiny springs flowing out a few feet above the banks. We took out at Scotts Ford, a public access at a low water bridge. Across from Scotts Ford is Adventure Outdoors, another excellent float vendor and fishing guide. We were loaded up and headed home by 5:30, with plenty of daylight to finish some chores before falling asleep on the couch!

Dogwoods on the hillside

Spring Beauty

Critter Count: Turtles, Blue Herons, 2 Bald Eagles, 2 Woodchucks, 1 Beaver or Mink (couldn’t tell as it was swimming across the river)


One Response to “Float #4: Meramec River”


  1. Float #19: Meramec River « Fllog - September 8, 2011

    […] free shuttle from our friend at Adventure Outdoors. DW and I did this float back in April. Read the previous post for more background on this stretch of river. Woodson K. Woods boat launch Zoe enjoying her […]

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