Since its upper reaches are in Mark Twain National Forest, it retains some wilderness character and has good watershed protection. The section from State Hwy 14 to Hwy H is near-wilderness and includes some fine stands of short leaf pine as well as several very large springs. Old mills and a number of National Forest recreation areas enhance the attractiveness of the area for vacationists. Indeed, this river has high quality recreation value equal to any in the Ozarks.
The river is always floatable from Twin Bridges down to Norfork Reservoir. Although the gradient of the lower sections is not spectacular, the volume is good and this produces some fairly sporty rifts.
The Little North Fork, in western Ozark County, was a fair float before Bull Shoals Reservoir destroyed its lower reaches. There is now little of it left that could be floated, but it is still suited to wading and fishing in the Hammond area.
Difficulty: I and II. A few places might rate a low III in high water.
- General: 7.5
- Hwy HH to Round Valley Ford: 10.4
- To Twin Bridges: 8.0
- Hammond Camp: 6.7
- To Hwy H: 6.4
- To Tecumseh take-out: 5.6
Quadrangles: Topaz, Cureall, Gainesville, Thornfield (for Little North Fork).
Counties: Douglas, Ozark. Howell useful for road connections.
0.0 Hwy 76 Bridge. Put-in more convenient downstream at next low-water bridge.
0.5 Low-water bridge on connecting road between Hwys 76 and E. Access.
6.6 Low-water bridge and spring at Topaz. An old mill remains standing. Access.
11.1 Slab ford. Access.
11.4 Indian Creek enters on left.
12.2 Osborn Ford. Low-water bridge reached via Hwy 181 from the east side or Hwy W from the west.
14.8 Hale Ford Bridge on connection road between Hwys 181 and W. Another put-in.
16.1 Fiddle Springs Hollow on left.
18.7 Bridge on connecting road between Hwys AA and State 14. MDC Hebon Access.
24.1 State Hwy 14 Bridge at Twin Bridges Canoe & Campground. Camping, cabins and general store. This is a favorite put-in to float the most popular 15 miles of River.
25.9 Spring Creek enters on left. The lower 8 miles of the creek have a gradient of 12.5 but it is more a wading (for fishing) stream than a floating stream and tends to be blocked by logs and other obstacles. Big Spring, 2.5 miles upstream, is only a third magnitude spring. 26.0 Hicks Spring is located just below the mouth of Spring Creek, on the other side of the river.
28.2 Marys Hollow on right. Spring up hillside on opposite side of river.
29.2 Hammond Camp Access just off Hwy CC. Concrete bridge on West Plains Road. Forest Service campground with well is located on left bank. Stores at Dora, 4 miles west by road.
29.9 Blue Spring on left, at river level. Canoes can be paddled into spring to fill water jugs. The flow is seldom less than 7 million gallons per day. Nature trail maintained in spring area.
33.3 North Fork spring issues from rock ledge on left. Often a good lunch spot. Other springs in the gravel bar on the opposite side of the river.
33.5 Upper branch of Rainbow (Double) Spring on right. Lower branch enters river 1500 feet downstream from source and has been stocked with trout by members of the private club which owns the spring. No admittance. Pri vate use only. This is rated as the fifth largest spring in the state with mid-summer flows of up to 137 million gallons per day. There is a very rocky riffle on the bend just below the mouth of the lower spring.
35.0 McKee Bridge. Private use only. Going under the bridge in high water is dangerous. Approach with caution and make sure there is clearance.
36.0 The Falls is merely a rock ledge about 2-3 feet high. Chute is best handled from the left and go toward the right. Don t approach broadside!
39.2 Blair Bridge, concrete low water bridge, on extension of Hwy KK to Hwy H. Access. It is necessary to pull canoes over this bridge. Approach with caution, since a broadside approach in medium-high water could result in being swamped and pinned against the upstream side. Just below the bridge are some old concrete bridge piers which produce a tricky channel in lower water stages.
39.4 MDC Blair Bridge Access. Boat ramp available.
39.9 Campground on right is private.
40.1 1 mile below Blair Bridge. Trout Island. Shoals provide some of the best trout fishing on the river. Campground and lodge on left available through Twin Bridges Canoe & Campground.
40.9 Spring Creek on left, is fed by numerous springs, none of them large. It has a gradient of 14 on the 6 miles above its mouth but access to it is poor except at the Duncan Ford 2.3 miles upstream. It has often been floated from this point in springtime and provides a good ride, but a float from Cureall (12 miles) could entail much walking.
42.1 Hwy H low-water bridge. Patrick Bridge Access at northeast side of bridge. Put-in and take out. MDC maintained campground across river from put-in. Althea Spring, rated as Missouri’s 23rd largest, is just downstream on the left. It is now public property managed by MDC.
42.3 Althea Spring Branch enters the river at a fast riffle.
43.6 Campground on right is private.
45.3 Hwy PP Bridge. This is a high bridge but the old road goes down to the water for easy launching or take-out.
47.0 Dawt Mill Dam. Water is backed up for about a quarter mile by this low dam. The dam has been run in high water but it is a “canoe buster” and you must know the right spot. It is easily “portaged” by sliding the canoe down a shallow chute on the right end of the dam where there is also a rough path around the dam. There is a good rapids below the dam which is easily run.
47.1 Dawt Bridge. Going under this bridge in high water is dangerous. Approach with caution and make sure there is clearance!