Category Archives: Rivers

Lee Kern’s Top Ten Missouri Float Trips

Last week we sang praises of Lee Kern for her killer river guide skills. Now we’re thrilled to give you an exclusive: Lee’s Top 10 Missouri Float Trips. If you’re only going to float ten river stretches in your life, make it these.

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Lee Kern, everybody! Being a total rockstar.
Lee Kern, everybody! Being a total rockstar.

My Top Ten Missouri Float Trips
By Lee Kern

#10 – Meramec River: Onondaga State Park to Sappington Bridge

This section of the Meramec is one of my favorites. With tall bluffs and quiet countryside it makes for a peaceful float that is not far from St. Louis.

#9 – Big Piney River: Slabtown to Ross Bridge

The Big Piney is one of my favorite rivers for fishing. Tall bluffs and swift turns on this section make for an enjoyable float that can be done in one day, but also makes for a great overnight trip. The Big Piney is never crowded and always beautiful.

#8 – Huzzah Creek: Dillard Mill to Hwy. Z

The Huzzah is a popular party float in the summer, but this section is a hidden gem that is only floatable in high water. Lots of obstacles make for a challenging adventure and there is usually a fair amount of wildlife to see.

#7 – Mississippi River: Red Star to Commerce

The Mississippi River is often overlooked by paddlers, but if you are up to the challenge it can be a great time. This section, flowing south from Cape Girardeau, is full of interesting beaches and rocky outcroppings. If the water is low enough you might get to see Commerce Rock, an ancient river map carved by indigenous people a thousand years ago.

Courtois Creek flows into the Huzzah.
Courtois Creek flows into the Huzzah.

#6 – Little Piney Creek: Lane Spring to Newburg

Little Piney Creek is best floated in the spring when the water is up. This narrow stream provides plenty of challenges with tight turns and some fallen trees. It is a very pretty float and a great trout stream if you have the time to fish.

#5 – Courtois Creek: Berryman to Onondaga State Park

The Courtois is another stream that can be crowded in the summer, but a really nice float in the spring. This creek has beautiful scenery and numerous tight turns that can make for a challenging paddle when the water is high.

#4 – North Fork of the White River: Hammond Camp to James Bridge

The North Fork is a jewel of the Ozarks. With numerous springs and clear, cold water, this trip makes for an excellent day on the river, especially in the heat of the summer.

#3 – Meramec River: Short Bend to Woodson K. Woods

When the rest of the Meramec is running out of its banks, head upstream to the very first access on the river. This 25-mile stretch of stream makes for a fast and fun paddle in floodwaters, and there is plenty of scenery along the way.

Lookit this cute little turtle.
Lookit this cute little turtle.

#2 – Jacks Fork River: The Prongs to Alley Mill

The Jacks Fork is one of the most popular rivers in Missouri, and with good reason. Towering bluffs and crystal clear water make for beautiful scenery that you won’t find outside of the Ozarks. The Prongs are only viable when the water is up, but it is one float that should be on every paddler’s list. This section makes for a great two or three day float with excellent fishing.

#1 – Eleven Point River: Cane Bluff to Myrtle

My absolute favorite river in Missouri is the Eleven Point. Swift, clear, shockingly cold water makes it my favorite destination in the hot summer months. Plentiful wildlife, many historic springs and great fishing are the hallmarks of this stream. The Eleven Point can often be trickier paddling than it looks, so it is great fun and a beautiful float in every season.

How one man decided to “be the change” on the Niangua River

Yesterday on the Niangua River, hundreds of volunteers dispersed across the water, in canoes donated by local outfitters. Armed with gloves and litter bags, they picked litter out of tree roots, off of riverbanks, and from wherever else they could see it.

This was the sixth cleanup of Stream Team’s 25th Anniversary Celebration. This was also the ninth year of one man’s vision for a cleaner stream and more connected community.


Check out this video by Ozark Traditions TV

About ten years ago, Carl Romesburg was fed up with seeing trash on the popular floating and fishing stream he called home–So he took action, founding a cleanup to get his whole community to reclaim the Niangua’s natural beauty.

Declaring, “It’s100% or not at all,” Carl used his vacation time to call a hundred Camden, Dallas and Laclede County groups and businesses for donations and volunteers. Some voiced their support, while others told him he was wasting his time. Some people even said he had lost his mind. “Honestly, that pushed me a little harder,” he says. 

That first cleanup started out with 80 volunteers and seven outfitters that donated canoes and shuttle services. It’s a unique arrangement; most other litter pickups require volunteers to bring their own canoe. “It would fail if I didn’t have those outfitters,” Carl says.

The past few years have drawn more than 200 volunteers to the annual cleanup. “We get little kids, 5- and 6-year-olds, up to 85-year-old kids, too,” Carl says. “They show up, we get them on the bus, send them off and then they come back.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEvery piece of the Niangua cleanup puzzle is built out of community support. “A woman, a local river rat who does trash pickup for area campgrounds, gathers all the bags,” Carl says. “She goes and picks up all the trash at each section, brings it to the picnic and puts it in a pile, so everybody can stand out and get your picture taken before we get to eat.”  Even the picnic is provided by community donors.

The result is a cleaner river and more connected community. It’s a touching thing to experience, Carl says. “You get a little choked up because you see what happens out there.”

River des Peres: degraded but not forgotten

How can homeowners restore an overlooked ditch into a community’s point of pride? It just takes a little dedication. Stream Team volunteers Ed Shafer and Beth Skelton recently shared the story of the River des Peres Watershed Coalition with Nine Academy in St. Louis. Check out this video by Dan Sherburne, and share your own stories with urban streams in the comments below!