Tag Archives: bird’s nest

Float #96: Meramec River

2 Apr

Bird’s Nest Park to Onondaga State Park

F96_Meramec

Meramec River
Crawford County, Missouri
Sunday, March 30
18 Miles

At the start of every float season DW and I try to develop some general goals of the rivers we want to float in the coming year. Some of these include floating rivers we’ve never visited before or completing a whole river from mile zero to the end. This year we are contemplating finishing the entire Meramec. We have floated most of the river until it gets to St. Louis County, but I looked back over my blog posts and discovered this 18 mile stretch that was missing! Last Sunday was a warm and sunny day, so what better time than now to close up this gap?

This stretch of river is not far from our house, so we both drove to Onondaga State Park and dropped the truck there, then continued on to Bird’s Nest Park. It was a short drive of 12 miles between the two access points. Bird’s Nest Park is right across the river from the private campground of the same name. This is a public access maintained by the county and has no fees. We unloaded our gear and set off by 10am.

Old bridge at Bird's Nest

Old bridge at Bird’s Nest

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Taking a side channel

Taking a side channel

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The day started out chilly but warmed up fast. The weather was very warm in the sun and cold in the shade with a cool breeze. As soon as we hit the water I was ready to peel off a few layers of clothing! We paddled at a steady pace with few breaks. The sun goes down around 7pm this time of year and you never know how long it will actually take to float a new stretch of river. It turned out we could have gone a little slower because we tore through about 2/3 of the trip before lunch! This was our first long float of the year. My arms were tired the first half of the trip, but I soon warmed up and by the end of the trip I felt great!

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Saranac Spring branch

Saranac Spring branch

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We saw a juvenile Bald Eagle flying downstream ahead of us, but he didn’t stick around for a photo. We also saw a deer on the bank who thought he was hiding, but we could see him watching us float past. The turtles were out in full force, their backs still caked in mud, sunbathing on the logs and boulders.

About half way through the trip Saranac Spring flows into the river on the left side. We stomped around here for a few minutes, but the mouth of the spring appeared to be up far up a creek, so we didn’t stay too long. Lunch was taken on a small gravel bar next to a bluff. We stopped for about an hour and then we were off again to tackle the last part of the paddle.

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Turtle pile

Turtle pile

Bridge at Onondaga

Bridge at Onondaga

There are quite a few long, slow pools on this section and at times there was a headwind that made paddling a little more difficult. There are also many oxbows, so sometimes the wind was at our back, which is always nice! Many of the bluffs we passed appeared to have cave openings, but we didn’t have time to check them and see if they were caves or just holes in the rock.

A couple miles before our take out we passed the Huzzah Creek confluence on our right. There were another couple of kayakers with their kids enjoying the day and doing some fishing, which reminds me I need to renew my fishing license. We arrived at Onondaga around 4:30pm, completing our trip in a little over 5 hours of paddle time, not bad for the second trip of the year! We loaded our gear in the truck and headed back to Bird’s Nest to pick up the car and then home. We were back home with ample time to finish some chores, which is always nice for a Sunday float.

April will be busier as the float/camp season ramps up. Hopefully we will start to see some more rain, or we won’t be doing any creek floating this spring!

Critter Count: 1 Juvenile Bald Eagle, Herons, Ducks, Geese, Turtles, 1 Deer

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Float #52 & 53: Meramec River

26 Sep

Riverview to Bird’s Nest

Meramec River
Crawford County, Missouri
Friday, September 21 &  Saturday, September 22
8 miles

This weekend we got together with a bunch of friends and family to camp and float on the Meramec in Steelville. We set up camp at Bird’s Nest Lodge on Thursday night and were joined Friday morning by a group of familiar floaters and some of our family members. We decided to float from Riverview access back to camp at Bird’s Nest because it is such a short shuttle and a nice easy float. We did the same float both Friday and Saturday as we had some different people floating with us each day. DW and I brought our entire fleet of boats (4 kayaks and 2 canoes) and were able to outfit everyone for free! Friday was forecast to be raining, but the sky was sunny with not a cloud in sight.

Friday’s float group at Riverview

Meramec River

Meramec River

Jake & Dustin

Meramec River

I brought along my fishing pole again, but didn’t have any luck. I almost caught a bass, but he jumped off the hook before I reeled it in. We stopped for lunch on a nicely shaded beach below some low rock ledges. It was a nice spot and we stopped there both days. On Friday many of us jumped in for a swim. The water was chilly, but not too cold for the weather. Saturday was colder and I don’t think any of us swam that day. There’s a good chance that was the last time I’ll go swimming this year! The weather has been cool and in the 70s lately. It has to be at least 80 before I’ll get in the water.

Meramec River

Meramec River

Meramec River

Meramec River

Meramec River

Baby Snake

Meramec River

There is a nice spring with a cave and a shallow pool on the right of the river. I can’t find the name of it and it’s not on the map, but it is a nice spot. The water is very cold, too cold for this time of year. We went into the cave a little way, but it soon tightened down to crawling and we didn’t have any knee pads, so we turned around. After the cave we soon came to Hwy. 19 bridge. There are about 3 miles after the bridge to Bird’s Nest.

Meramec River

A spring flows from a cave

Meramec River

Meramec River

Hwy. 19 Bridge

Meramec River

Meramec River

A Whistlepig eats his dinner

Somewhere along the trip we saw a bald eagle. The upper Meramec seems to be a good place to spot them. As we neared camp we came across a groundhog (or whistlepig as I like to call them) eating some flowers on the bank. He didn’t seem to mind us at all. I floated right up to him and talked to him, but he kept eating flowers and ignored me. His den was in the bank just above him, so I guess he felt safe.

Both days, we got off the river a couple of hours before dark. Everyone had a great time, especially those who don’t get to go floating often. It was well worth hauling all our boats down so others could enjoy the river. The next day DW and I met up with my sister, Abby to do another section of the Meramec. It was a beautiful weekend and great weather. Next weekend DW and I are tackling a new section of the Current for our anniversary. It should be great fun!

Critter Count: Turtles, Herons, Ducks, 1 Hawk, 1 Bald Eagle, 1 Baby Snake, 1 Whistlepig