Float #7: Meramec River

11 May

Cedar Ford to Woodson K. Woods

Meramec River Map

Meramec River
Crawford County, Missouri
Sunday, May 8
9 Miles

We had spent most of Saturday doing garden chores and various yard work and planned to do the same on Sunday. However, upon waking and stepping outside it was already hot and very sunny. Screw the chores, let’s go floating! DW called his friend who owns Adventure Outdoors along the Meramec River in Steelville. Luckily, he was available to shuttle our boats and that sealed the deal. We quickly gathered our float gear, threw together some food and leftover beers from the previous weekend and hit the road.

sycamore tree meramec river

A sycamore parallels the water

The upper Meramec is a beautiful stretch of river and only an hour from our house, so it is our go-to choice when we want to float somewhere away from the house, but not too far. The water was still high upriver, but not nearly as muddy as it was downriver near our house. We decided to put in at Cedar Ford, which is not always floatable in the lower summer water, and take out at Woodson K. Woods conservation area. Since this was a very impromptu float, we didn’t get on the river till after 1pm. The water was swift enough to make it a lazy day without too much paddling.

Cedar Ford Meramec River

Low water bridge at Cedar Ford

Cedar Ford is not an official access point and there is no parking lot, so it is best to get a shuttle for this float or risk parking your car along the road. The gravel road gets washed out after heavy rain and a 4wd vehicle is usually needed.

bluffs meramec river

Low bluffs near Cedar Ford

meramec river

Fast ripples on the river

The water at the put in was quick and the first couple miles went by swiftly. The upper Meramec is twisty and remote, with many narrow spots and deep swimming holes. We took advantage of the hot day to take plenty of swim breaks. Though not the first swim of the year, it was the first that wasn’t shockingly cold. The water was chilly and a bit murky, but perfect for a hot day. The Meramec is a river with a beautiful color palette that is rivaled only by the Current River. Unfortunately it gets so stirred up by motorboats in the summer that it is unnoticeable. That is why I prefer this river in the off season.

meramec river

The vibrant beauty of the Meramec

gravel bar kayak meramec river

Our lunch stop

We took a late lunch on a large gravel bar. It took a while to find a good spot. With the high water many gravel bars were submerged and the larger ones were in full sun. We compensated with more swimming. This part of the river is heavily lined with trees and low bluffs. There were not many obstacles, but there were many rocks submerged in the high water. We didn’t see much wildlife beyond the normal crowd, but we did catch a glimpse of a brood of baby ducks and their mother. They saw us coming a quickly swam behind a log to hide.

hwy 8 bridge meramec river

Floating under the hwy. 8 bridge

The float was over all too soon. We took out at 5pm and were back home in time to finish those pesky garden chores.

Critter Count: Turtles, Blue Herons, Baby Ducks

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