I am coming to Saint Louis at the beginning of October and would like to go canoeing. How is Meramec park? Are there many tourist? How does it compare with Jack's fork or current? The latter seems that it would me more intimate scenery and maybe less crowded? We would like to overnight in a cabin along the river. thank you for any information you would have.
Hope this is not too late for your trip. There is a great difference in the rivers and floatable creeks throughout Missouri. The Meremac is a great river to float near the Maramac Springs and State Park. It is only about 90 minutes from downtown StLouis. If you are an experienced canoeist you will find it a bit slow and timid. For a bit more of a fun ride and a little shorter drive from StL I would suggest the Huzzah or the Courtois Creeks. They are tributaries of the Meremac River. The Current and Jacks Fork are more of a drive from StL. Depending on your put in point it is 2 to 3 hours from downtown StL (estimated). Here is a website that will give you more information on Missouri's float streams and some exerpts from the site. Note the gradients on each stream. That is the measure of how fast the elevation changes. The greater the number the faster the stream. The Meremac near Maramac Springs is 4.2, the gradient of the Courtios is 7.2, the gradient of the Jacks Fork as a whole is 7.3. http://www.missouricanoe.org/ Missouri's Meramec River Fed by Maramec Spring and many smaller springs, the Meramec is floated most of the year. The most floated sections are those between Maramec Spring and Meramec State Park, although there is still much reasonably attractive river down to St. Clair or even Pacific. Beyond that point, however, real estate developments, railroads, and industry may make the river unattractive to some paddlers. For those who do not mind these distractions, the river is floatable right down to the Mississippi. Floats above Maramec Spring are recommended only for high-water periods. Difficulty: I, seldom II. Gradients: general (to Palisades) - 3.4; Hwy. 19 to Hwy. M - 7.8; to Hwy. 8 - 5.3; to Hwy. 19 north of Steelville - 4.2; to Onondaga Cave - 3.2; to Moselle - 2.6; to Palisades - 1.6 Counties: Dent, Crawford, Phelps, Franklin, Jefferson, St. Louis. Missouri's Jacks Fork River This tributary of the Current River is one of the wildest and most scenic of the Missouri Ozark streams. Its deep valley is nearly a canyon, with no bottomland fields for the first 25 floatable miles. It is therefore advisable to camp well above river level if there is any chance of sudden rain. Trips with loaded canoes above Alley Spring are recommended only in spring or after good summer rains. The few miles immediately above Alley Spring are especially wide and shallow and may have to be walked in low water. Upper sections of the river provide fine fly fishing water. Difficulty: I and II. Gradients: general -- 7.3; Prongs to Hwy. 17 -- 8.6; to Bunker Hill -- 8; to Alley Spring -- 7; to Current River -- 6.3. Counties: Texas, Shannon. Missouri's Current River Most spring-fed of all the Ozark rivers, the Current may be floated at almost any time of the year, particularly below Welch Spring. On hot summer weekends, the river is usually crowded. Weekdays floats are much more peaceful. Due to the increase in size of the river and the frequency of motor boats below Big Spring, most canoe and kayak trips are made on the sections above Big Spring. Difficulty: I, occasionally II. Gradients: general- 4.4; Montauk to Akers - 8.7; to junction of Jacks Fork - 5; to Big Spring - 3.8; to Doniphan - 3.2. Counties: Dent, Shannon, Carter, Ripley. Missouri's Huzzah Creek & Courtois Creek These two clearwater gems, which join their waters to the Meramec River in Crawford County, are only about 100 miles from St. Louis. Although they are too small to provide adequate floating water at all seasons, the angler will find them pleasant and profitable floating-wading streams. In seasons of good water, the canoeist will find them quite sporty. Their valleys are relatively unspoiled and have real Ozarks atmosphere. It would be wise to check water levels of these creeks at Hwy. 8 bridges before attempting floats upstream from the highway. The names of the creeks are pronounced locally as Coort-a-way and Hoo-za. Huzzah Difficulty: frequently II due to sharp turns, obstructions and narrow channels. Gradients: Hwy. V to town of Huzzah- 8.9; from town of Huzzah down - 7. Counties: Crawford. Courtois Difficulty: frequently II due to sharp turns, obstructions and narrow channels. Gradients: Brazil to Hwy. 8 - 9.2; from Hwy. 8 down - 7.2. Counties: Washington, Crawford.
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