Length: 5.5 miles
Elevation gain: N/A
Route type: Down river
Difficulty: Easy - Medium
If you visit eastern Missouri, do a float trip on the Meramec! It is one of the favorite summer getaways not too far from the St Louis metropolitan area and is excellent for fishing as well as floating. Although there are many float trip coordinators along the river, my particular preference, if you are new to this site or otherwise unfamiliar with my methods, is to book passage through the concessionaire at the state park itself. At my last visit, pre-pandemic, they would allow you to rent a boat or pay to have them carry your boat for you. I've done this method as well as self haul with 2 trucks just to save the fee on them carrying personal kayaks. Of course, if you can't spare 2 vehicles to carry your own boats, they may still take personal boats for a fee but be aware, they may refuse due to special rules around holidays, pandemics, and the likes.
The trek is pretty easy! Float trips on rivers, unlike lakes, don't require a lot of work paddling to keep your speed. That's the best news ever if you're looking for a more relaxing time or want to focus on something else like photography, fishing, or enjoying your companions should you have any with you. Of course, there is nothing wrong with paddling, upstream or down, if you want to better navigate the currents. It's actually my preference to try paddling upstream every so often just to get a little workout and extra time on the water!
Be prepared! The Meramec, to those who are unfamiliar, can be a bit treacherous. There will be obstacles both below and sticking above the water. You need to be careful of both while in and out of your boat (especially out of your boat). You don't want to get your boat hung up on something sticking out of the water and end up getting dumped into the water and you definitely don't want to get hung up on something under the water that holds you... under the water... The current can be swift at times, especially if it has rained recently or even actively raining upstream from where you are. The water level and current can change unexpectedly and if you aren't careful, if could be deadly.
There are bigger boats! The Meramec river is large enough and deep enough for john boats and even bass boats in some areas. Be mindful that, if you hear them coming, you should probably move to the shallow end of the river. They tend to come blasting up or down the river hardly aware of what might be around the corner and, if you weren't already aware of how physics works, they drift a while before they actually stop moving once shut down.
Side note! Missouri is also known for its caves and Meramec State Park is one of those places where you will have access to caves. Inside the park itself is Fisher Cave, which offers paid tours, and outside the park, as long as you know where on the river to pull up and climb out, is Green's Cave. If you remember, bring a flashlight as it is quite dark for exploring, as most caves are. If you do stop, please be respectful of nature as it is quite beautiful when left as it is.