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Access to and floating on Dry Fork of Upper Meramec???


Conor

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I live near Rolla and this is one I have been wanting to try out but haven't really figured out good accesses or flow levels.  It doesn't look like there is a gauge so you would have to correlate a level to another gauge such as the Meramec at Cook Station.  I am aware that this is the source of water for Maramec Spring and that most of the water goes underground except at high flow events.

Has anyone kayaked this for any considerable distance?  I have heard it is really nice but you have to hit it just right.  What is a good access point?  I would plan to just end at Scotts Ford on the Meramec.  Can you go above where the Dry Fork further forks into a big and little branch?

 

Conor

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Looks like you could get on it from Woodson K Woods. Look at a conservation map and check the parking access/hiking trails. I don't want to spoil anything for you, but I don't think there will be easy access unless you're ready to go knock on some doors. If you're planning on fishing hard or going slow, that would be a pretty long trip. There's a lot of slow water in between woodson k woods and scotts ford. 

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Woodson to Scotts is only 9 miles.  It isn't super slow but not super fast either.  It picks up after the spring but slows down towards Scotts.  I am talking about the Dry Fork and you are right that I might have to ask at private locations.  I don't know if it would be OK to leave a car at a low water crossing.

The Dry Fork comes in a little ways below the spring, then you could go on down to Scotts.

Conor

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  • 2 weeks later...

There are long stretches of the middle Dry Fork that are so completely dry that the stream bottom will be covered in weeds and saplings most of the time, even lacking isolated pools.  There are permanent pools and occasional flow in between for a few miles above Little Dry Fork, and a tiny bit of permanent flow from there on down.  But access is pretty much non-existent.  There are only three bridges, including the Highway 8 bridge, crossing it in the over 19 miles between the Little Dry Fork and the mouth.  And only one of them, the one just below the Little Dry Fork, is a possible access, and even it has no real parking.  Only the last 3 miles, in the Woods Conservation Area, are really accessible.

I've talked to guys who have floated it.  You obviously have to know somebody and you have to catch it after a rain, or be willing to walk your boat long distances in bare trickles.  And it's murky to muddy more often than not.  But there are some big pools that hold fish.  The guys I talked to said that smallmouth are fairly rare, but the largemouth can be good.  

It's an intriguing stream.  Dry Fork is longer, and has a bigger watershed, than the Meramec does above where the two come together.  If it wasn't a losing stream, it might be a premier float stream; it certainly has a lot of bends and probably, from what I can tell from topo maps, a lot of impressive bluffs.  But you trade that float stream for Maramec Spring.  As you said, nearly all the water that SHOULD be flowing through Dry Fork instead sinks underground to emerge at Maramec Spring.

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It's an intriguing stream.  Dry Fork is longer, and has a bigger watershed, than the Meramec does above where the two come together.  If it wasn't a losing stream, it might be a premier float stream; it certainly has a lot of bends and probably, from what I can tell from topo maps, a lot of impressive bluffs.  But you trade that float stream for Maramec Spring.  As you said, nearly all the water that SHOULD be flowing through Dry Fork instead sinks underground to emerge at Maramec Spring.

Got to have the loosing streams to have the cold ones... well you know what I mean.  

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I have talked to someone who floated it and it sounds pretty nice if you can catch it right.  It sounds like it has impressive sandstone bluffs similar or better so some of those along the Bourbeuse.  Water quality also appears to be similar to the Bourbeuse.

I was recently out driving Hwy 32 east of Salem and crossed the upper Meramec and something called Dry Valley or similar.  Both were completely dry so I don't know if that water goes underground to the Current/Welch Spring or stays in the Meramec watershed.

 

Conor

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10 hours ago, Conor said:

I have talked to someone who floated it and it sounds pretty nice if you can catch it right.  It sounds like it has impressive sandstone bluffs similar or better so some of those along the Bourbeuse.  Water quality also appears to be similar to the Bourbeuse.

I was recently out driving Hwy 32 east of Salem and crossed the upper Meramec and something called Dry Valley or similar.  Both were completely dry so I don't know if that water goes underground to the Current/Welch Spring or stays in the Meramec watershed.

 

Conor

There are several small springs entering the Meramec a short distance below 32, and springs feeding Hutchins Creek.  I think that's where the water that goes underground on the upper Meramec comes out.  There are short sections well above Highway 32 that flow year-round before sinking back under the gravel.

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Interesting....  I remember reading somewhere that some of the water from the Meramec watershed might cross over into Welch Spring so wonder if maybe some of that water high up near Hwy 32 might be going that way as well.  There are also a few small springs near Short Bend I have found so it could be coming back to the Meramec there as well.

Conor

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Anyway, I got to finally experience the Dry Fork in two parts.

The first part was from Hwy F just SE of Rolla to Boys Town.  We got dropped off and carried everything down below the bridge on Hwy F which was a bit of work.  The launch was also pretty steep.  This was 21 miles and a really nice float.  The real scenery starts at the confluence with the Little Dry Fork but the part above this was nice as well.  There was also a really nice little spring coming in on that upper part.

This stream really reminds me a lot of the Bourbeuse but has its own personality.  The geology is dominated by the Roubidoux Sandstone and the water clarity is on par with the Bourbeuse.  The bluffs are sharper and more rugged than the Bourbeuse and I would say the gradient is definitely higher, with the exception of the part I recently did near Safe and High Gate.  The Meramec Gauge at Cook Station was reading right at 1000 cfs when we put on so I am sure that helped with the flow!  There are no gauges on this so you have to correlate with ones nearby.  It was also mostly self-clearing of log jams which is a concern when you are committed to 21 miles!  The Gasconade is definitely showing by the time you get down to around Hwy 8 or so.  We saw the natural arch just upstream of Hwy 8 but missed the natural tunnel.

The next part was from Boy's Town to Scotts Ford.  There was about 2.5 miles on the Dry Fork and the rest on the Meramec.  There is a nice pinnacle along the road at Boy's Town and supposedly a "Pinnacles Natural Arch" in the bluff although we couldn't find that.  The bluff is very nice and attractive though.  There are two nice bluff lines down to the Meramec and they are definitely in line with the sharper and more rugged bluffs you experience on the rest of this stream from the Little Dry Fork down.  There is an MDC parking area at Boy's Town so you don't need to be dropped off.

I think the next plan is to be dropped off at the Little Dry Fork on CR 3220 and take that down to Boys Town.  That will cut off a few miles and allow us to experience new territory.  This stream looks like a really nice tight little creek so it will need to be a high water float like the others.  It also looks like the water is MUCH clearer than the main Dry Fork.  The scenery from the CR 3220 slab is really nice and Roubidoux dominated.

The CR 3000 crossing just east of Rolla might work but one would have to be dropped off there as well.  This is an old WPA bridge with the ornate concrete railings but there are lots of signs on the surrounding properties.

Another option to cut of more distance would be to get dropped off at the Pink Bridge on CR 3410.  This isn't the best access though but could work if there wasn't enough water in the Little Dry Fork and you wanted to cut off the top part.  Again, there are lots of signs on the surrounding properties.

I do feel this would be a premiere float stream if it was floatable year round and the access was better.  The scenery is great and this is a fun wilderness float.

 

Conor

 

Conor

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