Float #114: Meramec River

31 Oct

Allenton to Castlewood State Park

F114_Meramec

Meramec River
Jefferson & St. Louis Counties, Missouri
Sunday, October 26
15 Miles

We have been busy lately doing other fun things not related to floating and preparing our home and property for winter. October is a beautiful time to be outdoors, but it is also a month of frantic chores to get the garden harvested and the last of the firewood cut and split. The weather this past weekend was beautiful with highs in the 80s, so we figured we better get out on the water while we can. We chose this stretch of the Meramec because we have not done it before, and with this section completed we only have the last 25 miles of the river to float in order to have paddled the entire Meramec River. We were joined by our friend Rob and his twin boys Robbie and Charlie, and our new friend Joe, who had never kayaked before. Another newbie is our new puppy, Ocoee (named after the river in Tennessee), a small lab-mix who is an aspiring float enthusiast. We haven’t had a paddle dog since our old lab, Zoe, passed away two years ago, so it is nice to have a canine companion again!

We met at the Allenton access at 9am and unloaded all the boats. The boys and I stayed behind while DW, Rob and Joe ran shuttle down to Castlewood State Park, which took about an hour. We pushed off shortly after 10am with the sun shining brightly. I took my new boat (Wilderness Systems Tempest, 17′) on this trip and got some good practice leaning into my turns. Unfortunately there isn’t much room in the cockpit for a dog, so DW took Ocoee in his boat.

Meramec River

DW and Ocoee

DW and Ocoee

Big River confluence

Big River confluence

Meramec RiverMeramec RiverEven though this section of river is fairly close to the metro area, the view is mostly forest and hills. Fall colors were in their peak, making for beautiful scenery. About four miles from Allenton, the Big River joins the Meramec. The confluence is on the right side of the river, but it can be easily missed as it comes in on the other side of a large gravel bar. Just before the Big River you will float under the Hwy. W bridge near Eureka and then two miles past the Big River is Hwy. 66 State Park and the I-44 bridge. We stopped for lunch between the interstate bridge and the two railroad bridges just downstream.

Meramec River

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

I-44 Bridge

I-44 Bridge

Floating under I-44

Floating under I-44

Meramec River

RR Bridge

RR Bridge

Another RR bridge

Another RR bridge

The section between Hwy. 66 State Park and Castelwood State Park has a lot of train traffic. We passed under several railroad bridges and tracks ran along the river in several places. I think we saw at least four or five trains pass through. The bridges were especially busy with only minutes between trains crossing the river.

Shortly after lunch Ocoee decided to take his first swim. He hopped off DW’s boat and doggie paddled around in that splashy way that puppies do, before deciding that maybe it was a bad idea and DW came to his rescue and plucked him out of the water.

Meramec RiverMeramec RiverMeramec RiverMeramec RiverWe saw a lot of birds on this trip including Osprey, Hawks and two Bald Eagles. There were a couple of turtles out, but most of them were gone for the winter. As we neared Castlewood park we began to see a lot more people out on the riverbanks and the park trails. We didn’t see any other paddlers though.

Ocoee rides the deck

Ocoee rides the deck

Meramec River

More trains

More trains

Ocoee

Ocoee

We pulled off the river just before sunset, loaded everyone and all the boats in the Subaru and drove back to Allenton to drop everyone at their vehicles. Robbie and Charlie were asleep as soon as their seatbelts were buckled and Ocoee snoozed peacefully in my lap. It was a good day on the water (as usual) and a surprisingly pretty float for being so close to the city!

Critter Count: Blue Herons, Green Herons, Osprey, Hawks, 2 Bald Eagles

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One Response to “Float #114: Meramec River”

  1. ranschwords November 1, 2014 at 10:30 AM #

    Loved it! I’ve been waiting for you to do at least one more before the colder weather comes. I especially liked the pics with your new puppy and cracked up over his decision to briefly try the water. What the heck was it with that one pic where it looked as if you were actually in the water? There was something in the water in front of you that I couldn’t make out. The pic was a little out of focus. I really do enjoy your flogs and sometimes go back to read ones I’ve already covered before.

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