Information on Smith Cr.

Smith Cr.

	Rating: III-V
	TDCR: 8986
	Location: Newton Co.; Two put-ins are possible.  The first of these is
		off of Shiloh Rd. that turns East off of Hwy. 21 near Mossville (this
		is the road the the EFLB takeout).  Follow this road for a short
		distance until you come to a USFS timer cutting area on the right
		(look for the signs).  If you cross a cattle grate you've gone too
		far.  Park on the right in the timber cutting area, and hike down to
		the creek on the left had side of the road (also USFS land).  The hike
		is almost 1/4 mile and is way downhill.  Once you get down, you'll darn
		sure be running the creek!  A much better put-in is found by taking the
		second dirt road to the left after passing the Hwy. 21 Smith Cr. 
		bridge on your way south to Mossville.  (NOTE: This put-in is private 
		property but the owners don't mind paddlers using it for a put-in when 
		the creek is running.  Please treat the land with great respect and
		pick up any trash you find, so we can make sure the access to this
		great creek run continues.)  Thanks to the owners improving the road, 
		you may be able to drive this road all the way to the creek if 
		you have a high clearance 4WD vehicle.  The first hill is a 
		real doozy to get back up though, so you may want to do a little
		shuttle scouting to be sure you want to try it!  Once down the first
		hill (either in your vehicle or dragging your boat) bear to your 
		right and follow the road to the Southwest.  At the bottom of the
		first hill, another road/trail branches off and goes more steeply 
		downhill and to the Northwest.  This road will take you just below 
		the Lower Gorge and is a good spot to take out.  When you get to the 
		creek you can put in for the Lower Gorge, or you can follow the 
		road upstream over a couple of small tributaries about 1/4 mile to 
		get to the Upper Gorge.  A take-out at the Hwy. 21 bridge is possible
		but not recommended since it requries paddling the lower creek which
		has many fences across it and is surrounded by private land.  Unless
		you can somehow duck the fences, the lower creek cannot be run 
		without portaging, so you'll have to seek permission from
		landowners first.
		Area Map
	Topo Quad(s): Boxley, Murray
	Gradient: 130 fpm (upper 2.5 mi. @ 180 fpm)
	Length: 2 to 5 mi. (depending on put-in and take-out)
	Season: FLOOD
	Gauge: Generally 3 to 6 ft of water over the low water bridge over the 
		Buffalo R. at Ponca is a good indicator.  At the Hwy 21 bridge 
		over Smith Cr. no rocks should be visible in the flow near the 
		bridge and the water should be muddy.  The creek is only runnable 
		after extremely heavy local rains.  You may be able to predict the 
		levels using the Buffalo R. rain gauges which are linked below.  
		The Ponca and Buffalo Tower gauges are the ones to watch.  2+ inches
		of rain in a few hours may be enough to produce a good run.  If the
		creek looks flooded at the put-in, it probably is, and you'll be
		portaging class VI nightmares in the gorge if it's that high!
	Hazards: strainers, undercut rocks, barbed wire fences (above
		upper gorge and below lower gorge), severe rapids, hydraulics
	Description: First run in May, 1995 by Bill and Chanoy Herring and
		Chris Monroe, this creek has two of the toughest gorges in the 
		Ozarks (the Lower Gorge may have been partly explored as early as 
		1978). The uppermost put-in is a 1/4 mile climb down from a 
		dirt road East of Mossville. From this location the creek drops 
		at a rate of over 180 fpm for the next 2.5 miles with continuous 
		class III rapids and many nasty deadfalls that must be portaged.
		One mile from the upper put-in, the creek drops more than 60 ft.
		in 1/10 mi. and is choked to less than 5 ft. wide by several
		house sized boulders in the stream bed.  The result of this is a
		nasty class V+ gorge!  When you see the creek choking down 
		to a really narrow slot on river left, eddy out immediately 
		and portage on the left (where there is an old roadbed).  
		The first drop is very questionable, and if you accidentally 
		enter this gorge, it may be the last thing you ever run!  One 
		half mile later you'll arrive at the put-in for the lower gorge 
		run.  From this access point to Hwy. 21 is only about 3 miles, 
		but the first of those miles is very intense.  After a half mile of
		fast class III water you'll encounter the Lower Gorge where the creek 
		drops 100 ft. in 1/3 mile.  This gorge features back-to-back class 
		IV-V rapids.  The major rapids encountered in the Lower Gorge
		include: Little Bull (IV), Looking for Trouble (IV),
		Trouble (V+), Crack in the Rock (IV), Gunbarrel (III+),
		Smith Falls (IV+), Box Sluice (III), and Whippersnaper (III).
		All of these rapids have been run at certain water levels,
		but each of them harbors undercut traps.  All should
		be bank scouted very carefully.  Taken as a whole, the 
		Lower Gorge is basically a long class V whitewater rapid.  
		Indeed, at moderate to high water levels, the continuous nature 
		of the rapids from Looking For Trouble down to Smith Falls may 
		commit the paddler to running all of these drops at once.  
		Little Bull pushes 75% of the creek into a big undercut on the
		right, Trouble is basically an undercut rock sieve, Crack in the 
		Rock funnels about half of the water in the creek under and through 
		a big ledge, and a very large undercut just below Smith Falls has 
		already been the site of a near accident.  Needless to say
		you'd better have 100% confidence in your ability to run a
		clean line through these tricky drops!  After the Lower Gorge 
		the creek settles down to a continuous class II-III run until 
		its confluence with the Buffalo R.  Due to private land and
		fencing across the creek (do not try to remove these fences!)
		the creek is not really boatable below the Lower Gorge.
		Take out on the trail at the end of the Lower Gorge and hike
		back up the hill to get to your vehicle.  Smith Cr. is a very 
		serious run due to the extreme hazards encountered in the 
		two inner gorges. The gorges are short, but don't expect to 
		get through or around them quickly.  If you're not a seasoned 
		creek boater, you may find yourself doing a lot of hiking as
		you try to "run" the creek.

See the Photo Gallery for photos.

Return to Index