Tag Archives: Scotts Ford

Float #38: Meramec River

27 Jun

Woodson K. Woods to Scotts Ford


Meramec River
Crawford County, Missouri
Sunday, May 13
9 Miles

My youngest sister, Abby recently graduated from university. For her gift we threw her a party and took all her friends on a float trip. I took my kayak and DW took the Paddilac (our canoe) out for its yearly float. We loaned our other kayaks to Abby & her boyfriend and got canoes from Adventure Outdoors for her other friends.

We put in at Woodson K. Woods conservation access and floated down to Adventure Outdoors, which is across the river from Scotts Ford conservation access. This is a float we’ve done many times before, so more detailed descriptions can be found in blog posts, Float #4 and Float #19.

Meramec River

Meramec River

River Monster

Meramec River

We saw some cool wildlife on this float, including a really large snapping turtle sunning itself on a rock. I had never seen a turtle that fat before! We stopped for a while at Maramec Springs to swim and eat lunch. There were some Northern Water Snakes chilling in the vegetation where the spring water meets the river, and a large group of Gar swimming around. Not far after the springs we passed the Bald Eagle nest that I have seen every time I’ve floated this section. This time it had a couple of juvenile eagles in it! That was a really cool sight. I’ve rarely seen juvenile eagles, much less sitting in their nest. We saw a couple of adult eagles near there as well.

Meramec River

Maramec Springs

Meramec River

Eaglets in their nest

Meramec River

The Paddilac on a rare outing

Meramec River

The graduate paddler

We got off the river around 4:30. Everyone had a great time and I don’t think anyone capsized. Abby had fun paddling in DW’s kayak and I was happy that all her friends got to share a fun weekend together.

On a less happy note, this float was the last for our beloved lab, Zoe. She passed away of old age last week. Zoe was a dedicated floating enthusiast and our canoe rarely went anywhere without her. She floated with us on many week-long excursions in the Ozarks, swimming all day and sleeping on the gravel bars at night. She was the only witness to the one time we flipped the canoe (an early spring float on the flooded Courtois). We (and our canoe) will miss her dearly, but we have many wonderful floating memories to share.


Critter Count: Turtles, 1 fat Snapping Turtle, Herons, 4 Bald Eagles (2 juvenile), Northern Water Snakes

Float #19: Meramec River

18 Aug

Woodson K. Woods to Scotts Ford

Meramec River
Crawford County, Missouri
Sunday, August 14
9 Miles

This past Sunday was my 30th birthday. I always do a float on or around my birthday and occasionally friends or family join in. This year we had a bbq on Saturday and many of my friends joined in on the float Sunday. The weather was beautiful, highs in the mid 80s and partly cloudy. I have never had such nice weather on my birthday in all my life. I was actually chilly in the morning and evening! We paddled from Woodson K. Woods (Hwy. 8 bridge) to Scotts Ford, taking advantage of our free shuttle from our friend at Adventure Outdoors. DW and I did this float back in April. Read the previous post for more background on this stretch of river.

Woodson K. Woods boat launch

meramec river

Zoe enjoying her float

My youngest sister, Abby and her friend Nicole joined us in a canoe and agreed to take our lab, Zoe along in their boat. Zoe used to go on all our floats back when we only had a canoe and she was a young pup. She is a 75 lb. lab and doesn’t come anywhere near fitting in a kayak, but we try to take her out in a canoe at least once a year. Now that she is getting old she tires easily, thus the snazzy life vest. When she was young she would swim a good 10 miles of every float trip. She thinks she can still do that now, but her body doesn’t agree. She enjoyed her day out and I enjoyed having her along. As soon as we took out she jumped in the car and immediately fell asleep.

meramec springs

Surfing the springs

DW surfing the spring

Maramec Springs

A third of the way into the trip we passed Maramec Springs where the cold water enters the river. We stopped across from the spring for lunch and some swimming. It a nice spot to swim because the warm river water and the cold spring water mix up here and you swim through alternating patches of warm and freezing water.

Just past the spring we saw a blue heron standing on the bank. He used the typical heron reasoning, “if I stand perfectly still you won’t see me.” It didn’t work. We also saw a bald eagle sitting in a sycamore. It was very close to where we had seen the pair of eagles and a nest back in April. We looked for the nest, but didn’t see it. Either it had been dismantled or the foliage was hiding it.

Toward the end of the trip we caught up with the large groups from the outfitter trips, which always seems to happen later in the day. We came across a tricky spot where a downed tree blocked most of the waterway. There were lots of canoes causing much confusion as to which direction to go around the tree. Most of the kayaks had no problem as we were able to float over the trunk of the tree and both our canoes made it as well. One of our kayaks collided with a confused canoeist and tipped her boat, causing her to lose her paddle. The one time we didn’t bring an extra paddle of course! We searched the water and the banks downstream, but never found it. It probably got stuck under a log on the river bottom in the swift water. Luckily someone had found a canoe paddle on the bank earlier and gave it to us to use, otherwise we would have had to tow the boat the remaining few miles. It really sucks to lose a kayak paddle. They are expensive.

The jumping cliff

We took at the Adventure Outdoors parking lot around 6pm. Everyone had a good time and it was an excellent addition to my birthday weekend. Coming up later this month is another possible Meramec float and hopefully we will make it to the Eleven Point before the weather cools down too much!

Critter Count: Turtles, Blue Herons, Green Herons, Kingfishers, 1 Bald Eagle, 1 Northern Water Snake

Bonus Prizes: 1 much-needed canoe paddle, 1 camouflage blanket suitable for the dog

Float # 18: Meramec River

10 Aug

Scotts Ford to Riverview

Meramec River
Crawford County, Missouri
Sunday, July 31
7 Miles

We returned from Colorado hoping the extreme heat would be gone, but that was not the case. Not wanting to spend another day trapped in the air-conditioned indoors we decided to do a Sunday trip on the Meramec. Our friends Charlie and Alex met up with us at Scotts Ford for a 7-mile day float. The water was still very cool despite the preceding month of temperatures in the upper 90s and above.

Looking upriver at Scotts Ford

The first half of this trip was on quick, but calm water. The water level was a little low. If we had been in a canoe we would have scraped a bit in spots, but we found plenty of deep holes for swimming. Just after lunch we spotted a northern water snake crossing the river and we saw another one later in the day. Charlie thought he saw a duck crossing the river, then he said it was a beaver, then it turned out to be someone’s tiny dog!

Richart spring

Richart Spring

Looking down on the river from Richart Spring

Halfway through the trip we came upon Richart Spring on the left side of the river. This spring is very small. There is a little pool just big enough for a couple people to sit in. We spent some time sitting in the cold spring water. Afterward the river water felt comparatively hot! We had not seen many people on the first half, but once we reached the spring we caught up with a huge group of canoeists and we kept passing each other the rest of the way to their take-out.

Rednecks and cows on the river

A couple of miles from the finish we passed a herd of cows standing on the right bank (yuck) and a couple of rednecks washing their camouflage truck on the left bank. I thought it was a perfect Missouri trifecta; cows, rednecks and rivers. Around the bend from there was a tight spot in the river where a couple of downed trees blocked most of the waterway. The large group had stopped there blocking up the bank making it even more tight. It was no problem for us kayakers, but we did get to see some carnage. There was a canoe with a girl sunbathing in a lounge chair while her boyfriend did all the paddling. He couldn’t turn the boat fast enough by himself and ran it sideways into the logs, flipping it over and swamping the boat. We all had a good laugh, I had been waiting for that boat to flip over and luckily I was there to see it. We turned around and rescued some of their gear that was floating downstream. The rest of their group righted the boat and everyone was fine. The large group took out at Indian Springs, a private campground and outfitter. We spent the last mile paddling through very flat water (great fishing, but boring paddling) until our take-out at Riverview. We loaded up the boats and headed home, arriving before dark.

Critter Count: Blue Herons, Green Herons, 2 Northern Water Snakes, Turtles, Snapping Turtles

Bonus Prizes: One regulation size Frisbee in perfect condition (until we got home and our dog put a hole in it)

Float #4: Meramec River

15 Apr

Woodson K. Woods to Scotts Ford

Meramec River
Crawford County, Missouri
Saturday, April 9
9 Miles

A Saturday with good weather and no plans leads to an impromptu float trip. The upper Meramec is a beautiful stretch of river located within an hour of my house. With no yak buddies joining us, we grabbed a shuttle from Green’s Canoe Rental just west of Steelville on Hwy. 8.

Preparing the boats at Woodson K. Woods

We put the boats in at Woodson K. Woods Conservation Area. There were a few other boaters in rental canoes ahead of us, so we chatted with some Master Naturalist workshop attendees while we waited for the others to get a head start. Unfortunately, we also found some broken glass bottles at the put in. Don’t bring glass to a river, people! It’s illegal, dangerous and really pisses me off. DW cleaned up the glass, which earned him several thank-you’s from the naturalist crowd.

Bluebells carpet the forest

Not far down from the put in the signs of spring were everywhere. The forested banks were carpeted with bluebells and other early bloomers. Many animals were out enjoying the weather as well.

Spiny Softshell Turtle

Bald Eagle in a nest

Bald Eagle

There were more turtle species out on the river than I had ever seen before. A whole group of spiny softshells were sunbathing on the bank and I also saw one huge snapping turtle straddling a log. We also saw two bald eagles on this trip. One of them was sitting in a nest; a first sighting for us. Unfortunately, the combination of the afternoon sun and my tiny digital camera made it impossible to get a good shot. The eagle didn’t leave the nest no matter how close I approached, but it did give me a couple steely glares! I wonder if the eggs had hatched yet?

One of the highlights of this trip is passing by Maramec Springs, one of the most beautiful spots on the river and home to Missouri’s 5th largest spring. Maramec Springs is also the site of the historic Maramec Iron Works, in operation from 1826 to the 1870s. The Maramec Iron Works played a big part in providing iron for Civil War cannon and gunships built in St. Louis. In 1938 the springs and surrounding area were turned over to the James Foundation, which to this day operates it as a private park open to the public. The Conservation Department also operates a trout park and hatchery on the grounds. This area is well worth a visit, both for the history and the beauty of the springs. Although the name of this park is spelled differently, the pronunciation is the same. The Meramec River has had many different names and spellings throughout history and this is one of the spots where an old spelling remains.

Water level view of Maramec Springs

Maramec Springs

The springs pump out an estimated 100 million gallons of 56˚ water every day. It’s best to do your swimming above the springs because the water gets really cold as soon as you pass the confluence! We did the rest of the float at a leisurely pace, 9 miles being a short day for the two of us.

View from a gravel bar

A perfect day on perfect water

A lackadasical paddle gave us plenty of time to enjoy the excellent weather and the burst of spring foliage. Downriver there are several caves high up in the bluffs and tiny springs flowing out a few feet above the banks. We took out at Scotts Ford, a public access at a low water bridge. Across from Scotts Ford is Adventure Outdoors, another excellent float vendor and fishing guide. We were loaded up and headed home by 5:30, with plenty of daylight to finish some chores before falling asleep on the couch!

Dogwoods on the hillside

Spring Beauty

Critter Count: Turtles, Blue Herons, 2 Bald Eagles, 2 Woodchucks, 1 Beaver or Mink (couldn’t tell as it was swimming across the river)