The Prongs on the Jacks Fork: Considered by some to be Missouri’s prettiest float, this is the top of the river and usually a spring trip because it requires high water. Streaked bluffs decorate the eight miles down to the Buck Hollow access at Highway 17.
Jacks Fork from Alley Spring to Eminence: A year-round float because the spring pumps 84 millions gallons of crystal clear, chilly water a day into the river. The ancient Alley Mill by the turquoise waters of the spring boil is one of the state’s most photogenic spots.
Current River from Montauk State Park to Cedar Grove: The float begins at the Tan Vat access just outside the state park, and passes under a canopy of trees with sun-dappled shade. The stretch contains trout stocked by the park, and offers a quiet spot for anglers.
Current from Cedar Grove to Akers: The river picks up steam as it passes Welch Spring, which provides 105 million gallons a day. Be sure and visit the ruins of an asthma hospital built near the spring opening to take advantage of the purported medicinal benefits of the cool air. The working ferry at Akers is an Ozark artifact.
Current from Pulltite to Round Spring: After leaving the Pulltite campground, watch on the right for the path that leads back to Pulltite Spring and a restored vertical-log cabin. Just down river on the same side is the fern-lined opening of Fire Hydrant Spring.
Black River at Lesterville: Although it has fewer springs that the Jacks Fork or Current, the Black is one of the state’s clearest streams. You can see turtles and fish dart across the gravel bottom. Smallmouth fishing can be good.
Courtois, Huzzah and upper Meramec: The Courtois, locally pronounced “coat-away,” and Huzzah are lovely little creeks with several picturesque stretches. Outfitters around Steelville offer several floats, including a sampler that takes in parts of all three rivers.
Niangua from Bennett Springs State Park: Like the Meramec near St. Louis, the Niangua is a favorite of floaters on the west side of the state. The river can be bank-to-bank boats on summer Saturdays, lonely on weekdays.
Eleven Point from Greer Access to Turner: A wonderful float in the heat of August, Greer is Missouri’s second-largest spring with a daily flow of 222 million gallons. The lush banks full of cane give the river a primordial look. The huge wheel from the old Turner Mill sits mired in a forest creekbed like a steel sculpture.