Missouri Ozarks

Did a nice loop the the Missouri Ozarks combining the Current River Section of the Ozark Trail and the Current River itself. The Trail section begins at highway 60 near Van Buren and goes north about 30 miles. Nice oak and pine country; water can be sporatic. The Trail intersects the Current River, a National Scenic River, up near another bridge (next bridge north of Van Buren). The river is large enough that strainers are not an issue and it is swift and pushy, but generally flat with occasional riffles, maybe Class 1. Paddle the River about 30 miles back to Van Buren and you have only a 3 mile walk/hitch back to the car/trail head. Alternatively, you can park at NPS headquarters in Vanburen and walk the road section first to the trailhead and be at you car at the end. We did this trip during 4 days over thanksgiving and saw just 4 people. I understand it can be busy in summer. Trails Illustrated has a map for the area. Definitely a great long-weekend trip; especiually if you’re into geeking out on birds and forests and such. Be sure to check ou the big springs.

I did that same trip last spring. I started my hike at Big Spring on some of the trails there, then went about a mile cross-country to the Between the Rivers section of the Ozark Trail. That connects to the Current River section at the Highway 60 trailhead. I then followed the Current River section to the bridge at Owl’s Bend, where I had stashed my hardshell kayak. I then paddled back to my car at Big Spring. I spent two nights on the trail and one on the river for an immensely enjoyable trip. It would indeed make a nice packraft trip, and I am actually considering that for next spring. The Current River section of the OT is one of the prettiest, as it traverses Peck Ranch, crosses over Stegall Mountain, passes by Rocky Falls and two Rocky Creek shut-ins, and follows Indian Creek for a most enjoyable trek. The Current River below Owl’s Bend is fairly large, with plenty of gravel bars for camping and very few strainers or root wads. In summer it can have quite a bit of power boat traffic, unfortunately. Winter/Spring/Fall is perfect though.

I have backpacked and paddled the entire Ozark National Scenic Riverways Current River corridor except for the last bit between Big Spring and the southern terminus of the ONSR. I am planning a trip to complete that this winter or early spring. I have used the Ozark Trail, NPS trails, USFS roads, county roads and some bush-bashing to make the hiking shuttles. Some sections have been done in my kayak, and some have been done with my Yukon Yak. I love the Current River, and I think the best way to experience it is to combine backpacking and paddling, especially packrafting.

I usually fly solo, bu I would be interested in connecting with one or two fellow packrafters for some combo trips on the Current or Eleven Point rivers and the Ozark Trail.