The Current River - Baptist Camp to Pulltite

by  DubD123

A self-supported trip created by DubD123

Trip Overview

In mid May, my brother and I decided we wanted to do our first overnight float of a river. We have done several floats together and many separately but I would say our skill level would be intermediate. After talking about floating the Current for over a year and tons on research (neither of us had ever kayaked the Current) we decided on Baptist Camp to Pulltite - roughly 26 miles on the upper section of the Current. We love to fish and given the blue/white ribbon areas of the upper Current, we planned to fish heavy this first day and make up on mileage the second day as needed. As a Saturday/Sunday Float, we both needed to be on the road home by early afternoon Sunday.

We decided to save money and self shuttle with our trucks. We left his as Pulltite campground and mine at Baptist; it was about a 45 minute drive between the two points. I was very nervous about leaving our trucks on the banks unattended overnight, especially mine as Baptist is rather remote, with only a parking lot and a couple toilets. I will spare you the anxiety of waiting by saying both of our trucks were safe and untouched while we were on the river. After some delays with a leaking tire and loading up our gear (two 10 foot kayaks), we put into the river around 0900.

Baptist is not the best place to put a vessel in the river; there is no easy access and the water was moving pretty good (we checked the gauges prior and it was around the average depth for the area). We found an inlet with a 5 foot drop off from the bank and chose this as our launch point.

The first 8 miles (especially the first mile or so) of our float were the most technical waters we have ever paddled. Very narrow and creek like: fast moving currents with turns and TONS of debris: trees/roots/rocks etc. I have two vertical rod holders behind my seat and while trying not to flip, low hanging limbs ripped both of my poles out of the kayak. Thankfully my brother let me used his spare the rest of the trip. While we struggled to navigate, it was well worth it as i think the first 8 miles were the most scenic of our trip. I will say now for the fishermen: we did not have great success fishing. Two trout total and nothing to write home about. I will add that we are both new to trout fishing and have much to learn..but I've had significantly more success fishing the Niangua River past Bennett Spring.

After 8 miles we reached Cedar Grove and had to portage the low water bridge. It was at this point we wished we had packed a little lighter, though honestly I wish we had brought more food. We really thought we would catch more fish and planned on eating them at camp. The portage was rough with heavy kayaks (and we helped a couple with theirs as well) but it wouldn't cause hesitation from starting at Baptist again next time. Aside from a couple fly fishermen on the banks, Cedar Grove was the first stop where we encountered civilization. One of the local outfitters was dropping off a group of floaters, so we did not stay long as to be gone before they put in.

The remainder of the float is what you would expect from an Ozark river: steady current with some mild challenges at the river bends. Occasionally, a large tree would be down in the river; the Baptist portion gave me PTSD at these moments but it was never an issue. Though there was one time in particular I took on some water, i was thankful to not flip during this trip.

Immediately after Akers Ferry we found a gravel bar and decided to set up camp. So for day one, we logged about 16 miles in less than 9 hours. Take into consideration that the river was moving fast and we stopped several times to fish from the gravel bars and sit around to enjoy the scenery. Our camp site was a large gravel bar that we had to ourselves; it had plenty of drift wood to keep the fire lit until bed. I enjoyed that this section of river created enough current to enjoy the sounds while in the tent. I had read raccoons were an issue with food but i cant speak on it. We ate MREs (defeated fisherman's meal) that night and secured our trash before sleep. I will mention for those that care: Akers was the first point on the river where we had a cell phone signal. From Akers to Pulltite it was intermittent; though we didn't pay much attention to our phones.

We slept in Sunday morning and got on the river somewhere around 0845. The second day we had 10 miles to float to reach our destination at Pulltite. It was very relaxing on this portion of the float. Beautiful scenery with massive rock bluffs and an abundance of wildlife: we saw several deer, two eagles and a river otter. We did not fish and only stopped twice: once just to get a pepsi out of the cooler and another time to check out Cave Spring (its awesome, check it out). We actually had to paddle a bit more the second day but the current was still carrying us very well in the turns. Considering we didn't stop for more than 20 minutes the second day: it took us 2.5 hours to paddle the 10 mile stretch to Pulltite.

Overall it was an awesome trip and has us amped to do another overnight float. Our only regret is that we didn't do a longer one as the Sunday float was very quick. For those who want to check out Baptist to Pulltite: DO IT! Strap your stuff down, keep the poles low and read the river at every turn. Get your paddles wet and enjoy the ride!

Portage Notes

We had to portage the first 8 miles maybe 5 times. None after that.

Trip Details

  • Trip Dates: 5/13/2024
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Kayak Fishing
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Number of Portages: 5

Trip Location