Just got back from a trip down the Big Piney River in the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri. Total trip was just about 40 miles, done in 2 days, 20 miles per day.
Went on this trip solo for the challenge and solitude you can only get when on your own. Put in at Mineral Springs access and paddled to the Ross access 40 miles downstream.
The water level was a bit below normal which made Day 1 from Mineral Springs a a real tough stretch. Ran into downed trees spanning the entire river which required some interesting portages to say the least. But hey, this is what I wanted right?....a challenge.
Even though the progress in Day 1 was slow the Big Piney River is very beautiful and scenic with a multitude of wildlife. Did end up catching a few big snakes by surprise (guess not many people have been on this stretch for a bit) and that, in turn, surprised me. Aside from venomous reptiles, I also saw quite a few deer crossing the river and tons of birds --- blue herons and the like.
The night was spent on a gravel bar with great fishing (the Big Piney is one of the best fishing rivers in MO from what I learned). After a tough day, I was glad to relax and catch some fish.
In the morning, I awoke to rain unfortunately, but dealt with it - packed up camp and headed back out on the river for the next 20 miles to the Ross access.
This part of the trip was flat out awesome, no dragging, fun fast ripples, fast moving bends in the river, etc....a lot of fun. The bluffs I came across in Day2 were extremely beautiful. Did not see as much wildlife but did catch some deer grazing on shore and birds as well. This is likely due to the fact that a few local outfitter put boats out on this stretch of the Big Piney. Many floaters were out on Saturday. Enjoyed seeing people but could have done without the number of people....all in all, still a great day.
Spent the night camping at Ross access, which is also the location of Rich's Last Resort....one of the outfitter/campgrounds on this part of the river. Rich seemed to be a super nice guy with a nice gig out there... cabins, rental kayaks, etc.
Would definitely recommend the Big Piney to anybody that has moderate experience but really could be floated by just about anybody depending on the section you are doing.
Gravel Bar Camping
Jackson Journey 14 kayak
Printed and laminated maps from MissouriCanoe.com