Float #73: Council Bluff Lake

19 Jun

Council Bluff Recreation Area

F73_CouncilBluff

Council Bluff Lake
Iron County, Missouri
Sunday, June 2
4 Miles

This lake is about an hour south of my house and I’ve been wanting to check it out for a while. We decided to finally cross it off our list and organized a small family picnic with my Mom and my sisters and their families. My sister Emily has an adorable 18 month old toddler, Celia, who loves the water. We were excited to get her in a canoe for the first time and see how she liked it. We brought along our kayak fleet as well for my other sister, Abby and her fiance, Iggy to float.

Council Bluff Lake is located just south of Potosi in Iron county. It is the largest lake in the Mark Twain National Forest, but it is a medium-sized lake compared to most in Missouri. It is also the headwaters of the Big River. Like a lot of National Forest areas, there is a day use fee of $3 per vehicle, and separate fees for camping. When we were there it was a cloudy, slightly chilly day and the lake was not crowded at all. There is a nice picnic area with several lakeside spots and beach for swimming, a showerhouse, concession and flush toilets. We didn’t check out the campground, but I assume it is up to the usual National Forest standard, which is pretty nice.

We arrived around noon and claimed a prime picnic spot right at the water’s edge. We unloaded our gear and started cooking lunch as our family arrived. We grilled up some hamburgers from my Aunt & Uncle’s grass-fed beef and some rabbit Emily and her fiance, Henry had raised. I have not had rabbit since my parents raised them when I was a kid. It was delicious! After lunch we ditched the dogs and Abby’s baby girl with my Mom and headed out on the water.

Council Bluff Lake

Celia wants to paddle

Council Bluff Lake

Council Bluff Lake

Since DW broke his paddle on the Huzzah we have not yet purchased a replacement. That means we’re down to 3 paddles for 4 kayaks. So, DW used a short canoe paddle instead, which worked out fine for this float. Celia really enjoyed her first canoe experience. It took a minute for her to get her “sea legs” but she was giggling and smiling the whole time. She quickly figured out that paddling makes the boat go, so she tried to paddle it herself. It was pretty funny as she grabbed the paddle and said, “weeeee” smiling the whole time. We paddled down to the south end of the lake and then Emily, Henry and Celia paddled back to the picnic spot while the rest of us explored the east side of the lake.

Council Bluff Lake

Abby takes it slow

Council Bluff Lake

Council Bluff Lake

Council Bluff Lake

Council Bluff Lake

An impressive dead tree

There are a lot of dead trees along the edges of the lake, which make for some creepy, interesting scenery. There are also lots of “sleepers,” obstacles just under the water surface that are difficult to see, near these trees. I ran my boat up on a sleeper tree branch and almost capsized, but luckily I was able to keep my balance and wriggle off of it. I kept my eye out for sneaky trees afterward.

Council Bluff Lake

Council Bluff Lake

Council Bluff Lake

Council Bluff Lake

Headwaters of the Big River

We eventually paddled over to the dam on the northeast corner of the lake. It was a precarious scramble up some rocks and through brambles and waist-high grass to get to the top. We peered over the edge and could just barely see the head of the Big River spilling from the lake overflow. It is just a small creek up here! We then got back in our boats and paddled back to the picnic site to pack our gear and head home.

This was a nice lake, not too crowded and you can paddle from anywhere in the lake back to your access point in under an hour. I think it would be fun with a little wind to kick up some waves. There is also a 12 mile bike/hiking trail that goes all the way around the lake. It seems like a perfect weekend getaway!

Critter Count: Red Wing Blackbirds

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