Float #6: Osage Fork River

11 May

Drynob to Hull Ford

Osage Fork River Map

Osage Fork River
Laclede County, Missouri
Saturday, April 30
14 Miles

On this weekend we traveled to the Fort Leonardwood area for the biannual MVOR caving campout. This is a group of Missouri and Illinois area cavers who gather to camp, cave, float and party in different locations around the state. DW’s family has been involved for many years and that’s how I became introduced to the group. I have been caving a few times, but we usually use the MVOR weekend to float. There are many great rivers in this area, including the Big Piney, Little Piney, Gasconade, Osage Fork, Niangua and Little Niangua. Though both Pineys are a popular choice and well worth exploring, we have done those rivers many times and wanted to try something new. We decided on the Osage Fork due to it’s proximity to the campground and easy shuttle.

Osage Fork River

DW, Jake and Charlie

We were joined on this float by our frequent fellow kayak enthusiast, Charlie and our good friend Jake, who drove up from Nashville, TN. Jake borrowed my old red kayak for the day. I always brag that the red boat is unflippable. I have taken it down the whitewater in the St. Francis river and never flipped it once. Of course Jake had to prove me wrong and fell out when he ran into an obstacle. Unfortunately Charlie and I were ahead of him and missed the entertainment.

Osage Fork River

Small waterfall from the recent rain

Osage Fork River

DW checks out the waterfalls

The weather forecast for the day was all over the place, originally supposed to be warm and partly cloudy with a chance of scattered showers. It turned out to be chilly and overcast, but luckily we didn’t get any rain. All the rivers were still running high or at low flood stage due to all the rain in the previous weeks. The Osage was no exception. The waters were running within the banks, but much higher than normal.

Osage Fork River

Typical scenery along the Osage

Osage Fork River

Charlie plays chicken with some cows

The Osage Fork is a small river similar to the Little Piney and has great fishing. It makes for a leisurely float with typical Missouri farmland scenery, large sycamore trees and a few low bluffs. There were many downed trees across the river, though I don’t know if they were recently felled in high flood water or are a normal occurrence. We never had to portage, but a few spots left only the narrowest of gaps between treetop and bank to squeeze a kayak through. If we were in a canoe we probably would have been scraped out of the boat!

Osage Fork River

Eagles nest high in a sycamore

There is not much to report about this float as we didn’t pass any landmarks or natural areas of interest, but it was fun all the same. We did get to see a pair of bald eagles and their nest. That is the second one we’ve seen this year; a true sign that the eagles are really back in strong numbers!

Critter Count: Herons, Ducks, Turtles, 1 Otter, 2 Bald Eagles and a nest

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