Float #59: Big River

14 Dec

Morse Mill to Cedar Hill

F59_Big

Big River
Jefferson County, Missouri
Saturday, December 1
11 miles

December float trips are hard to come by. Between the unpredictable weather and holiday obligations it’s hard to find a good day on the weekend to hit the river. So when a Big River float trip popped up on our Meetup SLAG (St. Louis Adventure Group) calendar we grabbed the opportunity. This is a section of the Big River we’ve not done before. We usually stay closer to the middle section of the Big River and have never done float trips on the lower section.

We met up with our group on a sunny morning at Morse Mill County Park. Morse Mill is the former site of a mill dating back to the 1800s. It is also known for the Morse Mill Hotel, a haunted hotel with an interesting past. Most of the group drove the short 6 mile shuttle while I and a couple others waited at the put-in with the boats. On this trip there were mostly kayaks and one canoe. Our friends Charlie and Scott (and his dog Yadi) joined us as well as some other SLAG adventurers we’ve floated with before.

Big River, Morse Mill

Morse Mill access

Big River, Morse Mill

The old bridge at Morse Mill

Big River

Big River

A heron rookery in a sycamore tree

At the start of the float the river runs through a residential area that provides a scenic tour of the garages of Jefferson County. After a mile or so it tapers off into farmland. There wasn’t a whole lot of trash on this part of the river. There were some rootwads and fallen tree trunks that had collected bottles and other bits, but not a lot of stuff on the river banks. We found a couple of rubber balls suitable for dog toys in one of the rootwads.

The water was relatively calm. Quite a few nice little ripples followed by stretches of slow water. We didn’t see much wildlife; a hawk, a group of turkeys and some ducks. Someone on the trip saw a bald eagle, but not me.

Big River

Big River

Big River

Big River

As the day progressed the clouds moved in a the wind picked up a little bit. Thankfully, it was mostly at our backs. The landscape is in full winter mode now. The water is clear and full of dark blue and gray colors. The hillsides are brown and gray with bright white sycamore limbs jutting out over the water.

Big River

Approaching the old mill in Cedar Hill

Big River

DW surfs the ripples at Cedar Hill access

We finished our trip at Cedar Hill; taking out at another old mill. There is a nice little chute right before the take-out that was fun to run. We were all loaded up by 4:30 and headed into Cedar Hill to eat at a BBQ place. It was a pleasurable way to spend the day and we added a new section of river to our list! Surprisingly, we have another Big River float with the same group planned for this weekend.

Critter Count: Hawks, Ducks, Turkey

Bonus Prizes: 2 rubber ball dog toys

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