Tag Archives: Brown’s Ford

Float #64: Big River

1 Apr

Mammoth to Brown’s Ford

F64_Big

Big River
Jefferson County, Missouri
Saturday, March 16
9 miles

This is a repeat of a float we did back in November, so I’m not going to go into great detail about the features of this section. To read more about this float please read Float #58. This time we floated with a small group from St. Louis Adventure Group. Just like the last time we floated this section the day started out pleasant and sunny and got colder and cloudier all day long. We put in at Mammoth access off Hwy. H between Desoto and Richwoods. The river had been flooded the previous week, so there was lots of debris on the banks and mud on the boat ramp.

Big River

Mammoth access

Big River

Big River

Big River

Turkey fly over the river

Most of the trip was spent paddling and trying to stay warm. We met some new people and caught up with John, a SLAG member and Big River enthusiast we have paddled with before. When we stopped for lunch we built a small fire and dried out any damp gear and warmed our toes. Luckily it didn’t rain on us, but it looked like it could have. It doesn’t seem like spring is coming anytime soon! To think that this time last year it was 80 degrees and everything was in bloom. Still, I’d rather have a little longer winter and hope that summer is less brutal than last year (we had drought and record high temps).

Big River

Big River

Big River

Old Hwy. H bridge

Big River

Big River

We got off the river sometime after 4pm and helped to run shuttle back to the put-in. It was a nice float even if it was chilly and we had a good time with the SLAG group.

Critter Count: Hawks, Herons, Turkey

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Float #61: Big River

22 Jan

Brown’s Ford to Morse Mill

F61_Big

Big River
Jefferson County, Missouri
Friday, January 11
18 miles

Warm days in January are hard to come by. This particular Friday was set to be a beautiful spring-like day with highs near 70˚, sunny skies and low winds. Not wanting to let the opportunity pass us by, DW and I ditched work and hit the river for some rare January floating. We decided to float a long stretch of the Big River we’ve never done before. This is our fourth Big River float in a row, completing a 50 mile continuous stretch of the river. We woke up at our regular workday time, loaded our gear, ran shuttle and were on the river by 9am. The shuttle for this stretch of river is very short compared to the length of the float. Hooray for oxbows!

Big River

Brown’s Ford access

Big River

Big River

Tornado damage from a few years ago

Big River

A scenic lake spillage waterfall

There is no better feeling than kayaking on a beautiful day when everyone else you know is at work! We only saw one boat that day; a john boat with a couple of fisherman. It would have been a nice day for fishing too, but 18 miles of paddling doesn’t leave much time for that. The water was a little stirred up as we had some rain a few days before, but it was still mostly clear. The next couple days the river rose about 10 feet, as there was a lot of rain on the upper end of the Big River. We were lucky to have timed it just right.

Big River

DW poses with an ice block

Big River

Big River

Big River

Big River

Icebreaker

Although the weather had been warmer the past week, there was still a little ice on some of the bluffs. We only found one chunk of ice on the water. DW practiced his icebreaker kayaking, which is always fun. This stretch of river is very pretty with some nice bluffs and almost no houses. We didn’t pick up much trash either. The long distance between access points probably means this stretch is not frequented as much, and that means less trash!

Big River

Big River

Hwy. Y bridge

Big River

Big River

Redneck water slide

About half way through the float we passed under Hwy. Y bridge. There are several large gravel bars downstream of the bridge that would be suitable for overnight camping if you want to break this trip into two days. There are plenty of slow pools that would be good for fishing on a two-day trip. The water moves pretty well between slow pools, so we kept a good pace and probably could have taken a few more breaks than we did. We saw many birds on this float. There were a lot of hawks out, some herons, turkey, and one bald eagle. We didn’t see any other wildlife, which is normal for a winter float.

Big River

Dry Creek confluence

Big River

Big River

Old Morse Mill bridge

Big River

Morse Mill access

A couple of miles before Morse Mill is Dry Creek on the right. After that you will see the old iron bridge and the access is just around the corner. We reached the end of our trip around 3:30pm with plenty of daylight left. It was a beautiful day, especially for January. Soon after the weather turned bitter cold again. Since then, I’ve been spending my free time doing some hiking while it’s cold and the bugs aren’t out.

We usually start floating more often near the end of February, so it may be a while before we get out again. If you have the opportunity to float on a warm winter day, don’t pass it up! The water is beautiful and it is a rare treat to have the whole river to yourself.

Critter Count: 6 Hawks, 1 Blue Heron, 1 Turkey, Kingfishers, 1 Bald Eagle

Float #58: Big River

21 Nov

Mammoth to Brown’s Ford

Big River
Jefferson County, Missouri
Saturday, November 3
9 miles

The Big River is a small river that runs through Washington and Jefferson counties. It is not the most scenic river in our area, but the fishing is great and it’s a beautiful place to enjoy the solitude of the off season. The Big River was discovered in the early 1700s by Frenchman looking for silver and lead mines. They named it the Grande Riviere, meaning beautiful or magnificent. It has since been translated into Big River which is fallacious, for it is not big!

We have not floated on the Big River in a few years. We tend to float the Meramec when we are staying close to home, but this stretch of the Big River is not too far from our house either. Mammoth to Brown’s Ford is one of the more scenic floats on this river. There are several nice bluffs and not many houses or other structures along the banks. My sister Abby joined us on this float. She is expecting a baby girl in January, so this was her last chance at a float trip for a while. We met up at 10am at Mammoth access and I readied the boats and did a little unsuccessful fishing while DW and Abby ran shuttle.

Big RIver

Mammoth Access

Big RIver

Big RIver

Big RIver

Big RIver

The weather for the day was supposed to be sunny with highs in the lower 50s. It did get into the lower 50s, but that was at 11am and then it became overcast and temperatures dropped back into the 40s. We were prepared and dressed for the weather so no one was cold. The water level was probably just a little below normal for this time of year. There were some shallow spots, but no scraping or portaging. There are some downed trees on some of the channels, but nothing difficult to get around. I spent part of the morning fishing, but didn’t get any bites and by the afternoon I was more interested in paddling to stay warm rather than fighting with my fishing pole!

Big RIver

Big RIver

Big RIver

Big RIver

Hwy. H Bridge

Big RIver

Turkey

After lunch we passed Hwy. H bridge which is also Merrill Horse access. There are some interesting bluffs right before the bridge that look a bit like castle towers. We spotted a group of turkey running up the bank. Later in the day we came across another group of turkey as well as a deer, a raccoon and one bald eagle!

Big RIver

Big RIver

Big RIver

Big RIver

Big RIver

Big RIver

Brown’s Ford Access

The remainder of the trip was uneventful. We just enjoyed the solitude of the river and the early winter landscape. The sycamores are really starting to stand out along the river now that most of the leaves are gone. Winter colors are starting to take over the landscape and the atmosphere is getting quiet. We pulled in to Brown’s Ford around 4:30 and loaded our boats. We were back home just before dark. Hopefully we will get one or two more floats before the end of the year!

Critter Count: Ducks, Geese, Herons, Hawks, Turkey, 1 Bald Eagle, 1 Deer, 1 Raccoon