From its headwaters near Willow Springs in the Mark Twain National Forest of Missouri the Eleven Point River roughly parallels its sister, the Spring River, to the confluence of the two near the Randolph-Lawrence County line very near Old Donaldsonville Historic State Park in northeastern Arkansas. It is a year-round, spring-fed river that is ideal for paddlers, deriving about 70 percent of its flow from springs, most of which are located in Missouri. The river remains navigable even after a prolonged drought. Rock shoals that would be a hindrance to paddlers on other rivers are easily negotiated on the Eleven Point.
To the west flow the Spring and White Rivers, and to the east flow the Current, Black and St. Francis Rivers, all beginning in the Missouri Ozarks and ending in Arkansas. Upon crossing the state line, about 5 miles below Missouri SH 142, the river gradient becomes flatter as the terrain becomes more alluvial. The surrounding scenery is pastoral and forest-lined banks hide farm structures and pastures nearby. The water is unpolluted, clean and clear making it a favorite destination for whitewater paddlers who enjoy the many Class II rapids that await.
One of its many features is the plethora of gravel and sand bars downriver left by previous floods that brought loose materials down from Missouri and northern Arkansas. Some of these bars are incredibly high and very unstable, with air pockets created by water flowing through them, making likely candidates for cave-ins. The resulting debris occasionally clogs the flow of the river. This is a potential danger to paddlers who could become buried if on a bar when it caved. Such cave-ins, over time, have created islands in the streambed, some of which may require portages due to blockage.
Below Dalton, starting in upper Randolph County and continuing over a distance of nearly 40 miles, is a series of 5 old stone dams that pose danger, especially to lesser experienced paddlers. These hazards increase in severity during high water conditions, and should always be scouted before running. Even portages can be tricky, so great care should be taken to avoid injury or death. At low to normal levels the river above Dalton is generally safe for all paddlers. The dams will be encountered starting about 1-2 miles below the Missouri-Arkansas state line and about 6-7 miles below the Missouri SH 142 put-in. All along the Eleven Point River is awesome scenery that makes a trip there worthwhile.
Oregon County in southeastern Missouri and Randolph and Lawrence Counties in northeastern Arkansas. Jonesboro, Arkansas, located about 35 miles southeast of Old Davidsonville State Park and the confluence of the Spring and Eleven Point Rivers, is the nearest town of any significant size.
Jonesboro 65 miles; Little Rock 188 miles; Fayetteville 236 miles; Fort Smith 291 miles; Texarkana 332 miles; Dallas 520 miles; Fort Worth 550 miles; Memphis 140 miles; Austin 710 miles; San Antonio 790 miles; Houston 770 miles; Oklahoma City 471 miles; Tulsa 407 (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point and destination put-in on the river.)
Excellent quality. The water flows clean, unpolluted and clear from springs in Missouri and Arkansas, maintaining an adequate flow for paddling year-round.
Anytime is great for paddling the Eleven Point River, as long as you are outfitted for the weather. The Ozarks get quite cold in winter and warm to hot in summer. Even during long droughts the river will have enough water for paddle trips.
The Eleven Point River is a Class II whitewater river with exciting, but not too challenging rapids. However, there are 5 old stone dams and some swift, tricky currents that can pose problems, even for experienced paddlers. The most significant hazards are as follows:
Old stone dam # 1 about 6-7 miles below the Missouri SH 142 put-in should be lined through a chute on the left side; Old stone dam # 2, at 15.0 miles below the Missouri SH 142 put-in, can be run left of center, but it requires a hard right turn at the exit. You can portage over gravel on river right; Below the Arkansas SH 93 bridge at Dalton is a swift and difficult current along the banks. Line or portage away from the current before paddling downriver from the bridge; Old stone dam # 3 at 27.0 miles, about 8 miles below Arkansas SH 93, can be run through a break on the right side, but willow strainers await just downstream. Consider a portage on river right; Old stone dam # 4 at 34.5 miles, about 7 miles below Arkansas SH 90 and just above the US Highway 62 bridge, can be run at low water - otherwise portage depending upon river conditions; Old stone dam # 5, at 37.5 miles, is a few miles above the confluence of the Spring River. Line through any of several breaches on the dam. It is generally best to avoid paddling the Eleven Point River at high water levels unless you are very experienced in whitewater paddling, swiftwater rescue and self-rescue in swiftwater conditions.
Missouri SH 142 bridge boat ramp (N 36° 33' 02.96" / W 091° 11' 29.04" on river left) at 0.0 miles; Alternate MO SH 142 access at the bridge (N 36° 33' 00.56" / W 091° 11' 34.71" either side of river): Arkansas SH 93 bridge just east of Dalton (N 36° 25' 07.19" / W 091° 08' 20.57" on river left) at about 20.0 miles; Arkansas SH 90 bridge (N36° 20' 49.70" / W 091° 06.47.90" on river left) at 28.0 miles; County road at Black Ferry Rd. / Valley Chapel Rd. Bridge (N 36° 17' 27.54" / W 091° 06' 01.93" on river right) at about 31.0 miles; US Highway 62 bridge (N 36° 14' 42.09" W 091° 05' 04.34" on river left) at 35.0 miles; and Arkansas SH 361/166 (N 36° 08' 26.88" / W 091° 05' 01.89" on river left) between the Spring River and the Black River confluences at about 44.0 miles.
NOTE: Access information is based upon most currently available data. Private property acquisition may preclude access at some points. Confirm access points before beginning a trip.
There is at least one commercial campground located on the Eleven Point River. Primitive campsites are available on private land at the Arkansas SH 93 crossing at Dalton; Old Davidsonville State Park (870-892-4708) offers 24 Class A and 25 tent campsites, picnic areas, two screened pavilions, playgrounds, three hiking trails and a self-guided walking trail though the Old Davidsonville town site; There may be other campsites on the Arkansas section of the Eleven Point River, but most land along the river is privately owned. Please respect property rights and never camp on private property without permission. Never abuse ANY property, public or private - Always leave your campsite cleaner than you found it! We only have one earth.
There is at least one commercial outfitter offering rentals, shuttles and river information on the Eleven Point River.
The Eleven Point River in Arkansas is really something else. The water is clean and clear, the surrounding area is a wonder to behold and the river offers everything from flatwater pools to Class II rapids to swift currents to old stone dams requiring portages. The things it lacks are an abundance of great campsites, commercial liveries and shuttle services. The river can be very dangerous during high water, even for experienced paddlers, due to log jams and sweepers, and the sections between the upper 7 miles and the lower 6 miles can be gnarly for inexperienced boaters anytime. Running the river at high water levels is definitely not recommended unless you have adequate whitewater paddling skills and swiftwater rescue training. For those who are willing to make the preparations and run the Eleven Point River it will be something to talk about for a long time afterward. Be sure to bring a camera and plenty of film, and store them in a safe, dry enclosure until you are ready to shoot some great photos. You will be close enough to also run the Current, Black, Spring, South Fork of the Spring, Strawberry, White and St. Francis Rivers, if you have the time and are so inclined.
Depending upon flows on the Black River it MAY be possible to paddle up the Black River to a boat ramp take-out at Old Davidsonville State Historic Park. This option is not going to greatly affect total trip distance, and may not be any easier than going on down to Arkansas SH 361 / 166.