This past weekend I got in a quick paddle on the St. Francis River near Fredericktown, MO with my buddy Grant. Saturday morning the temperatures hadn’t dropped off just yet, and the water level was nice and easy for a first run of the year. The Missouri Whitewater Association Races were being held as well so the put-in at Millstream Gardens was pretty full. Also, we had an audience to cheer us through Big Drop, the first major rapid in this section of the river, but once we got through this section we had the river to ourselves.
Early spring water levels stay pretty consistent. This is a great level for learning the river as it is not too difficult, but you don’t have to drag your boat across too many rocks.
Sure, It wouldn’t rival any large sporting event for a crowd, but the spectators of the MWA Championship Races were in the back of my mind while navigating this Class III beauty!
The weather this Saturday morning was just barely warm enough for me to tolerate the face-full of water I got running the center line of Double Drop, the third of the main 3 rapids on this section of The Saint. Cat’s Paw, the second, is not pictured because I was a bit out of practice in the boat this run and hadn’t mastered pulling out the camera while floating steadily just yet.
If you are not boater there is a great trail that follows the river from Millstream Gardens down to the take-out at Highway D. If you pick a nice warm day on a weekend when the water is at a good level, you are bound to see plenty of boaters bombing down through the rapids. If you are boater, but have no experience with whitewater, you should head over to the MWA’s website and either sign up for their yearly clinic or try to find someone willing to take you down and show you the ropes in their forums. Either way this is a beatiful place to go visit and just a short drive from St. Louis at about and hour and a half. See you out there!