Float #21: Eleven Point River

2 Sep

Greer to Riverton

Eleven Point River
Oregon County, Missouri
Saturday, August 27
19 miles

We finally made it to the Eleven Point this past weekend. This is our favorite river in the state and we usually go at least twice a year, but this year has been hectic and the summer almost slipped by without a visit. We headed down to Hufstedler’s campground on Friday afternoon. Hufstedler’s is in Riverton, which is a tiny village with a river access, camp store, campground and outfitter. We have been frequenting Hufstedler’s for many years and they always treat us well. The campground usually has free firewood which is a big bonus!

We set up camp, cooked dinner, had a couple drinks and hit the hay so we could wake up early and get on the river. With only one day available to float we wanted to do as many miles as possible and decided to do the 19 miles from Greer to Riverton. This trip covers most of the highlights of the Eleven Point and is a reasonable day float if you get started early. Going on a trip with just the two of us makes everything more flexible; we can adhere to our own schedule, start as early as we want and we never have to wait for anyone but ourselves. We awoke at 7am and our boats were in the water at Greer access by 9:30. The largest spring on the Eleven Point is Greer Spring and it joins the river just above the access. The water here is very cold! Greer Spring has a .9 mile hiking trail descending 250 ft. in elevation. The trailhead is off Hwy. 19 across from the campground and river. It’s well worth the trip if you’ve never been before.

greer access eleven point river

Early morning on the river

Mary Decker Shoals

Looking upriver at Mary Decker Shoals

As we paddled down from Greer a thick fog was still burning off the water. Everything looks more mysterious with the fog. We can hear the water rushing over a rapid ahead but can’t see anything more than 10 feet in front of the boat. Within a half hour the fog cleared and the sun rose above the ridgeline. We spotted a bunch of wildlife within the first few hours. A raccoon was digging for food along the bank. We floated right up to him and he just stared back at us and continued his morning chores. It was nice to see a raccoon in its natural habitat instead of eating the birdseed off my porch. Later we saw a bald eagle flying downriver and a bat flying upriver after a long night out. We soon floated past Mary Decker Shoals which consists of a line of rocks in the middle of the river. In low water Mary Decker can be a real scraper. Fortunately the water was up a bit for August and we glided right through. The outfitters tend to make a big deal of Mary Decker Shoals, always telling people to watch out for it, but unless it’s flood water or you’re a really bad canoeist it’s a pretty easy obstacle.

turner mill, eleven point river

Turner Mill Wheel

eleven point river

Turner Mill Spring

The mouth of Turner Mill Spring

DW immerses himself in the spring

Rock wall at Turner Mill

Shortly after the shoals is Turner Mill access. There are boat ramps on both sides of the river here. Turner Mill South was recently renovated to include an expanded campground and an additional boat ramp. This is a popular put-in for floating to Riverton. Turner Mill North is less popular as it is harder to get to by road, but it’s easy to paddle across the river from the south access to walk up to the spring. Turner Spring comes gushing out of a small opening in the bluff and tumbles down to the river. The water here is much colder than the river. Standing in it for a few minutes numbs your legs; it’s so cold it hurts! A grist and sawmill was in operation here from the late 1890s through the 1920s. All that’s left of it are a large mill-wheel and a rock wall. There was once a small community here by the name of Surprise, which had a post office and a school. The town didn’t last long and no one was left by the 1940s.

eleven point river

eleven point river

DW dives off the jumping rock

eleven point river

After Turner there are several float camps on the left side of the river. The Eleven Point does not have many gravel bars suitable for camping so the National Forest Service provides some small, primitive campgrounds through the middle section the river. About 6 miles from Turner is Whitten access. This access has a primitive campground and boat ramp. But be warned, Whitten is a popular local hangout and they tend to dominate the campground every weekend. Unless you’re from “around here” or well versed in Ozark culture you won’t be invited to the party. Halfway between Turner and Whitten a large rock with a small tree growing on it juts out of the river on the left side. We call this the jumping rock and we always stop so DW and whoever else can jump into the deep water. Our dog Zoe used to  jump off this rock when she was a young pup. Across from the jumping rock is a good gravel bar for camping. The bank is steep but there is plenty of flat ground at the top. When camping along the Eleven Point be sure to armadillo-proof your campsite. Those bastards are everywhere. They wait until dark falls and come shuffling up to your site, making a bunch of noise and scaring the crap out of you. Armadillo’s can’t see well and are oblivious to humans until they get right up to you. They are harmless but annoying when you’re trying to sleep and they’re scratching up the forest floor looking for food.

Boze spring, eleven point river

Boze Spring

boze spring, eleven point river

Underwater at Boze Spring

boze spring, eleven point river

Mill Dam at Boze Spring

boze spring, eleven point river

Boze spring from the dam

Near the end of the trip is our favorite spot on the river, Boze spring. This is another spring that ran a grist mill in the late 1800s. The dam and some parts are scattered at the end of the spring branch. There is also a float camp here, which is one of the most popular on the river. Boze spring is rumored to be over 80 ft. deep before it becomes too narrow for humans to dive further. The water is crystal clear with turquoise blue depths and is numbingly cold. Boze is a popular swimming hole and good people watching too. It’s always fun to sit and watch first-timers yelp when they dive into the cold spring. You can see where the water boils up in the middle of the hole, which is where the coldest of the cold water lies. Back in the 80s there used to be a tree with a rope swing over the boil. Unfortunately the tree fell into the spring a long time ago, but everyone still likes to talk about it. When we stopped by for a swim there were a couple local farmers sitting by the spring watching people swim and drinking apricot brandy. We each took a swig when offered and concluded that apricot brandy really hits the spot after a dip in the cold water.

DW surfs Halls Bay Chute

Hwy. 160 Bridge at Riverton

Around the next bend from Boze is the best rapid on the whole river, Halls Bay Chute. Keep to the left for this one as the right is studded with sleepers (rocks lurking just below the surface that will tip you). Halls Bay is a good class II rapid and can sometimes get up to class III in high water. It’s also a good spot to stop and watch people tip over. There is always someone camped out on the gravel bar for this reason. Since the water was up a bit the rocks were covered and the run was easy, even for canoes. There is a rope hanging from a tree at the beginning of the drop. Hit it straight at the rope or to the left for the best waves. After Halls Bay it is an easy 3 miles to the take out at Riverton. We were off the river around 6:30, sooner than we expected. We packed up our gear and went back to camp to eat dinner and pass out in front of the fire. The next morning we broke camp and went back to Boze spring to swim again. Swimming at Boze the morning we leave has become tradition for us. It’s hard to get in that water first thing in the morning, but I never regret it. Dive in and repeat until your body becomes a tingling numbness and your mind achieves a zen-like state. I am convinced that if you could jump into this spring every morning of your life you would live forever. Although there isn’t much difference between the Eleven Point and heaven itself.

Critter Count: Blue Herons, Green Herons, Kingfishers, Ducks, Turtles, 1 Bald Eagle, 1 Raccoon, 1 Bat

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2 Responses to “Float #21: Eleven Point River”

  1. Brandon H May 16, 2012 at 8:00 AM #

    Came across your blog by surfing images of Boze Mill… Love your description of floating the river. My buddies and I have been floating Eleven Point for probably 10 years now (2x every year) For us also, swimming Boze has become a tradition. You are never completely prepared for the shock you receive after jumping in!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Float #26 & 27: Eleven Point River « Fllog - October 20, 2011

    […] Mary Decker Shoals. The water wasn’t quite as high as it had been when we floated back in August, so a few more rocks were showing in the shoals. We came up on Turner Mill quickly, but did not […]

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