Tag Archives: Morse Mill

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

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Float #59: Big River

14 Dec

Morse Mill to Cedar Hill

F59_Big

Big River
Jefferson County, Missouri
Saturday, December 1
11 miles

December float trips are hard to come by. Between the unpredictable weather and holiday obligations it’s hard to find a good day on the weekend to hit the river. So when a Big River float trip popped up on our Meetup SLAG (St. Louis Adventure Group) calendar we grabbed the opportunity. This is a section of the Big River we’ve not done before. We usually stay closer to the middle section of the Big River and have never done float trips on the lower section.

We met up with our group on a sunny morning at Morse Mill County Park. Morse Mill is the former site of a mill dating back to the 1800s. It is also known for the Morse Mill Hotel, a haunted hotel with an interesting past. Most of the group drove the short 6 mile shuttle while I and a couple others waited at the put-in with the boats. On this trip there were mostly kayaks and one canoe. Our friends Charlie and Scott (and his dog Yadi) joined us as well as some other SLAG adventurers we’ve floated with before.

Big River, Morse Mill

Morse Mill access

Big River, Morse Mill

The old bridge at Morse Mill

Big River

Big River

A heron rookery in a sycamore tree

At the start of the float the river runs through a residential area that provides a scenic tour of the garages of Jefferson County. After a mile or so it tapers off into farmland. There wasn’t a whole lot of trash on this part of the river. There were some rootwads and fallen tree trunks that had collected bottles and other bits, but not a lot of stuff on the river banks. We found a couple of rubber balls suitable for dog toys in one of the rootwads.

The water was relatively calm. Quite a few nice little ripples followed by stretches of slow water. We didn’t see much wildlife; a hawk, a group of turkeys and some ducks. Someone on the trip saw a bald eagle, but not me.

Big River

Big River

Big River

Big River

As the day progressed the clouds moved in a the wind picked up a little bit. Thankfully, it was mostly at our backs. The landscape is in full winter mode now. The water is clear and full of dark blue and gray colors. The hillsides are brown and gray with bright white sycamore limbs jutting out over the water.

Big River

Approaching the old mill in Cedar Hill

Big River

DW surfs the ripples at Cedar Hill access

We finished our trip at Cedar Hill; taking out at another old mill. There is a nice little chute right before the take-out that was fun to run. We were all loaded up by 4:30 and headed into Cedar Hill to eat at a BBQ place. It was a pleasurable way to spend the day and we added a new section of river to our list! Surprisingly, we have another Big River float with the same group planned for this weekend.

Critter Count: Hawks, Ducks, Turkey

Bonus Prizes: 2 rubber ball dog toys