We started out at the Highway 125 bridge at the Linden public access site just below the Lindenlure Lake dam at about 11:15 am. My friend just got a Native Watercraft 14.5 foot two man kayak and we were itching for a good float. The Finley River is a tributary of the James River and neither of us had floated it before, luckily it was early enough in the year that the river was still floatable.
The first half of the float proved challenging due to the amount of logjams. We had to portage roughly 10-15 times during our first few miles. There was some beautiful scenery along the way with made the portages worth it. This part of the Finley is very rural with only a few places that are built up along the river. There were also some scenic bluffs and fields which made for a nice float when we weren't hitting debris.
About 2:30 pm we hit the mill dam at Ozark, MO which was the first of two that we encountered. The dam backs the river up for at least a mile behind it and makes a fairly good sized lake with a city park on the south side. We portaged on the left side of the dam across the road and down a steep concrete slab.
The second half of our float was much more enjoyable as there were fewer logjams and a wider and more scenic environment. Several small creeks and springs bring the water level up once you get past the Highway 65 bridge in Ozark. We continued on a leisurely pace, relaxing and fishing along the way. Be on the lookout for snakes as we saw several copperheads and a water moccasin.
The second dam is about the same size as the dam in Ozark, and I believe it powered a mill many years ago. This portage was a little bit trickier due to there being a concrete wall on the left side of the river and no where to portage on the right. We pulled up next to the wall and had to jump up and pull up the boat. We finished our float underneath the Highway 13/160 bridge in between Nixa and Highlandville.
Overall I'm glad we did the float, but I'm not sure that I would do that whole section again. There were some challenging s curves which were fun, but the logjams just downstream of Linden were frustrating at times.
Within 10 miles of Springfield, Ozark, and Nixa.
From Springfield, take Highway 60 east to 125 south about 5 miles to the Linden access.
We used the map from MissouriCanoe.org which I believe came from the USGS.