Tag Archives: Allenton

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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Float #46: Meramec River

10 Aug

Pacific Palisades to Allenton

Meramec River
Franklin County, Missouri
Sunday, August 5
6 miles

This was a short float we did with the St. Louis Adventure Group as part of the Wyman Center Poker Paddle charity benefit. In exchange for a registration fee we received 5 playing cards along different stops on the river. At the end the best poker hands received prizes. We didn’t get anything as all our hands were no good. That’s usually my outcome when I play poker, but at least I got to enjoy a nice float along with it.

I’ve floated this section of the river before, but it’s been a few years. Although it is much closer to St. Louis than most of our Meramec floats, it is still a beautiful section of river. The preceding night this area received a downpour of rain that brought the river up a couple feet and deposited a lot of sediment in the water. Our rivers have been very low all summer with the drought, so the rain was a blessing. Unfortunately the water wasn’t as pretty as usual and there was quite a bit of flood debris.

Our friend Mike joined us for this float. He was quite generous in covering our registration fee for the charity event. DW picks up so much trash on the Meramec that Mike was happy to give something back. Mike owns a nice piece of property along the Meramec just downstream from the River Round access. We met him on the river a few years ago in December when we were doing a cabin fever float. We picked Mike up at his house and drove to the Allenton river access to register and hop a shuttle to the put in at Pacific Palisades.

Meramec River

Pacific Palisades access

Meramec River

Great Egret

Meramec River

We paddled upriver a little bit so as to not get stuck in the large crowd of boaters getting on the river. A flying carp jumped out of the water and almost hit Mike’s kayak! You will see many flying carp on the big muddy rivers such as the Mississippi. I guess because the Meramec was so muddy they were jumping here too. We also saw a flying catfish later on in the float. When the river gets stirred up, catfish get frisky. After paddling up some more I noticed a large white bird flying by. He landed in a dead tree, giving me time to identify him as a Great Egret. I don’t see too many Egrets on the rivers I float; maybe one every few years.

Meramec River

Meramec River

Classic Car Bank

Meramec River

After we adventured upriver for a bit, we turned and went downstream to catch up with the rest of the group. DW, Mike and I picked up a lot of trash. I’m sure some portion of it had been washed down in the rain, but there was a large variety of trash. Usually the majority is beer cans, but here it seemed to be styrofoam containers and a fair amount of glass. We also passed a river bank that had been stabilized with old cars. Thankfully this method of river stabilization is no longer implemented!

Meramec River

Meramec River

Meramec River

Although the day was cooler than previous weeks, it was still pretty muggy. Though the water was murky and smelled of good clean mud, I couldn’t help but swim. It was refreshing none the less. Hey, some people would probably pay a spa good money to bathe in cool waters fortified with natural soils and minerals!

The scenery along this stretch of river is pretty and there aren’t many people or buildings within sight. This section is at the very edge of the Ozark Mountain foothills. So there are some low bluffs and rolling hills. With the drought we’ve had all summer some of the trees have started to turn colors already. A good month and a half ahead of usual. Others have given up entirely. This is a really bad year for tree growth!

Meramec River

Meramec River

Meramec River

Allenton access

We took our time on the float and didn’t paddle much until the end. I think we were some of the last people to finish! At the Allenton access we were treated to some barbecue, loaded up our boats and headed back home. It was a nice float for a Sunday and a fun group of people. Coming up next is an overnight trip on the Eleven Point which should be a lot of fun!

Critter Count: Blue Herons, 1 Great Egret, Flying Fish