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Jacks Fork River - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip

Report Type: Weekend Trip Report
Trip Dates: April 2003
Nearest City: Eminence, MO
Difficulty: Moderate
Submitted by: hike


The Jacks Forks is a tributary of the Current River and like the Current springs abound. Both are protected bye the Ozarks Scenic River Ways part of the national park system. But the Jacks Forks runs through a gorge like valley offering at least in early April an almost wilderness experience. We put in at the high way 19 bridge although it is possible to put in at the prongs 2.5 miles up stream but low water prevented this although the low water would soon change.

The jack fork is known for its caves as well as springs but unfortunately we missed the most spectacular called jam up cave we didnít see it till we were well past it. Oh well, itís a good excuse to go back I guess! We were amazed at how wild this river felt much like the lower buffalo national river very scenic and with crystal clear water. We had blue sky and moderate temperatures the first day of our two day trip but this would change camping in a nice forest across from a natural rock arch. We pulled the kayaks well up on shore after reading a park service brochure that described how quickly this river can rise. We also placed a stick in the shore at rivers edge to gage any potential rise and rigged a tarp as well as our trusty two person tent as rain was in the forecast.

And rain it did and lightning and hail up to pea size on and off all the next day we were camp bound! Watching the river come up 1.5 feet over the course of the day. Temps were near freezing and the hail stayed on the ground for a long time. Seems like a bad situation but we really for the most part enjoyed it. It was a chance to play cards, talk, keep a fire burning near out tarp and enjoy the power that is the natural world. The next day we woke to cold but clear conditions and a raging fast river. We covered 19 miles and arrived in Eminence Missouri about 3 pm putting in at 9.30 am or so it was fairly challenging at times the clear normal channels of the river being hard to determine with the high water and quite large waves were also present. Also every spring that you pass adds to the volume and speed of the river.

Alley spring was particularly noticeable in that respect. If you have a chance to get to the Jack fork I would recommend that you go especially in the quieter seasons, spring or fall. Notice I didnít mention winter, we did go to the current river in January 2002 but thatís another story in its self! Eminence Missouri is very pleasant in its own right with friendly folks and nice rooms at the River Edge Inn, and very reasonable meals in town. Also thereís lots to see here off the river way too much to describe here.


There are camp ground on the river and are shown on the park service map. Some primitive some with bathrooms and showers, private campground are also on the river below alley spring. After the river we found the Rivers Edge Inn to be a real treat. With interesting decor and a river view the hot tub is great and ping-pong table was fun!


We arrived from the west on interstate 40 from Tulsa, state route 19 to Eminence. Windy canoes shuttled us up the jacks fork from there.

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