Elk River, Big Sugar Creek, Indian Creek and Little Sugar Creek

Missouri’s Big Sugar Creek and Elk River

The Elk River and its scenic tributary, Big Sugar Creek, have become a favorite float with canoeists in the western part of the state. Big Sugar provides good camping and fishing, and is an unusually clear stream. In the Pineville and Noel areas, summer cottages are numerous, but the Elk below Noel again has a more isolated quality.

Difficulty: mostly II, seldom over.
Gradients: general – 6.5; Big Sugar from Hwy. 90 to Powell – 8.9; to Cyclone – 6.5; to Pineville – 7.2; (Elk River) to Shadow Lake – 4.
County: McDonald.


Missouri’s Indian Creek

This creek is suitable mainly for spring floats but has one of the best general gradients in the Ozarks. However, the gradient is steady and there are really no unusual features in terms of falls or spectacular runs. It is just a good, steady, fast run through relatively undisturbed countryside, in spite of its closeness to civilization.

Difficulty: II and III, due to brush, logs and fast turns.
Gradients: general – 8.7; Boulder City to Elkhorn Creek – 9.4; to Hwy 76 – 8.7; to Elk River – 7.8.
Counties: Newton, McDonald.


Missouri’s Little Sugar Creek

This Elk River tributary is floatable in good, normal water.

Difficulty: mostly II, seldom over.
Gradients: general – 9.
County: McDonald

Mile-By-Mile Descriptions

Big Sugar Creek

0.0 In high water, a put-in may be made on Big Sugar at the Roller Bridge. Hwy. 90 and KK. A county road parallels much of the creek from here to Powell.
5.5 Powell. Road is close to the creek and several bridges make this a good put-in area.
6.0 Bentonville Hollow (creek) and Hwy. E Bridge.
6.8 Low-water bridge on creek road. Mikes Creek on right. Creek road (south bank) shortest route to Cyclone. A few poor places in the road.
7.8 Kings Valley (creek) on right.
12.3 End of Hwy. V at Little Cedar Hollow on right.
14.6 Cyclone low-water bridge. Camping, swimming and good access. Many floats start here. Best put-in for normal water. Creek road on north side from here to Pineville.
20.4 MDC Deep Ford Access (public).
20.9 Low-water bridge at “Crag O Lea.” Good access.
22.4 “Sugar Beach” (cottages).
23.9 Creek divides. Left channel flows into Little Sugar Creek and bypasses Pineville. Right channel is the old channel and shorter.
24.3 Little Sugar Creek joins to form Elk River. The lower part of Little Sugar has a gradient of 9 and is floatable in good normal water.

Little Sugar Creek

0.0 Put in at Hwy. 90 Bridge northeast of Jane.
1.6 Griffin Ford low-water bridge, Hwy. 71 is 0.6 mile southwest.
6.9 Havenhurst Mill Dam and Hwy. K Bridge. Portage left. Falls below dam too shallow to run.
7.9 Elk River.

Elk River

24.5 U.S. Hwy. 71 Bridge. Kozy Kamp. Private campground. River road on south side.
25.9 Road close on left.
27.4 Road on left bank at Riverside Inn.
30.3 Indian Creek (on right) nearly doubles volume of river. Indian Creek is a good float stream and is described separately. Water fast and heavy just below here at high water. Use caution at bridge.
30.7 Kansas City Southern R.R. Bridge, closely followed by concrete low-water bridge.
31.2 Ginger Blue Resort on right.
31.7 “Shady Beach,” good private campground and take-out, on right.
32.0 MDC Mt. Shira Access on right.
35.0 Mouth of Butler Creek, at Noel, is adjacent to Hwys. 59 and 90. Take-out or continue down Shadow Lake.
35.4 Hwy. 59 Bridge over Shadow Lake.
35.8 Dam. Portage.
36.3 Road close on right. Fair put-in.
37.8 Henderson’s Campground. Private. Good put-in.
45.3 State Hwy. 43 Bridge. MDC Cowskin Access.
47.3 Oklahoma state line. Elk River becomes Lake of the Cherokees in Oklahoma.

Indian Creek

0.0 Hwy D Bridge access in spring or high water only.
0.5 Spring Branch on left.
3.5 Wolfenbrager Bridge on Spruce Drive off Racoon Road.
7.4 Mill Dam at McNatt. Stream backed up for about half a mile above this. Portage over dam. Rift below dam is hard on canoes except in high water.
8.4 Elkorn Creek on right.
10.1 Old bridge 3.5 miles east of Goodman just off Hwy C. Private.
11.1 Bullskin Creek on right.
13.1 Mayfield Bridge.
18.8 Seller’s Ford low-water bridge. Hwy 71 and Anderson are 0.5 miles west.
19.3 Indian Creek Campground at Hwy 71 Bridge.
19.8 Hwy 76 Bridge.
21.3 Town Hole Access on right, next to Post Office in Anderson. Must carry canoes/kayaks to river. Fair access.
21.6 Iron Canning Factory Bridge on county road south of Anderson.
24.5 Concrete slab at Bosky Dell Ford, not shown on maps. If there is water over the slab, approach with caution! It is slippery, and there is a 4 foot drop below it. Except in high water, portage right.
25.1 Lanagan City Park Access (Lanagan) on right.
25.5 Hwy EE Bridge.
27.0 Elk River. Next access at low-water bridge 0.4 mile downstream or at Mt. Shira Access 1.3 miles beyond that, on right with gravel ramp.

This is an electronic reprint of a Missouri Department of Conservation document. More or updated information on this topic can be found at the Missouri Department of Conservation web site located at: mdc.mo.gov. Copyright 2003 by the Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri. 
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Under Missouri law, an outfitter is not liable for an injury to or the death of a participant in paddlesport activities resulting from the inherent risks of paddlesport activities pursuant to the Revised Statutes of Missouri. Chapter 537 RSMO revised to 537.327
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