Moro Creek, a fifth order tributary of the Lower Ouachita River in southern Arkansas, forms in southeastern Dallas County near the community of Tulip and then flowns generally southeasterly for about 70 miles to an oxbow called Moro Bay just above the confluence with the Ouachita. Its final access point is right above the confluence on river left at a paved boat ramp in Moro Bay State Park. Near the top it forms the boundary between Dallas and Cleveland Counties, and the south of there forms the boundary between Calhoun and Bradley Counties. It begins in a rolling forested region with a moderate gradient as a narrow, shallow channel with occasional gravel riffles before flattening out and slowing down as it approaches Moro Bay. It is fed by numerous creeks including Bryant, Hurricane, Lloyds, Caney, Jack's and Whitewater that drain some 500 square miles.
The truth be told, Moro Creek is better known as a fishing stream than for paddling. It is home to numerous species including bowfin, spottted and longnose gar, chain pickerel, gizzard and threadfin shad, creek, lake and spotted chubsucker, big-mouth buffalo, carp, minnows, shiners, black, brown and yellow bullhead, pirate perch, several species of sunfish, spotted and largemouth bass, several species of darters, white and black crappie and many other species. Moro Creek is characterized by dense forest all along its run and is, for the most part, almost completely shaded from the sun making it a little cooler than most streams, especially in summers. Typical trees found along or near Moro Creek include loblolly and shortleaf pines, cupress, oak and gum. It has been known to contain pollution from a creosote plant and a plywood manufacturing plant near Fordyce. Moro Bay State Park is situated where Moro Bay and Raymond Lake meet the Ouachita River. The river channel is narrow, often less than 15 feet in width, and mostly shallow making it less than ideal for paddlesports, especially at the top. All that can change rapidly when heavy rains hit the drainage basin, but increasing flow also brings into play hazards caused by standing and deadfallen trees and blockages, so caution is advised when paddling Moro Creek.
While actually forming northwest of Carthage, the first practical acccess point (unless you know the area very well) is the SH 229 bridge just east of Carthage a few miles below the headwaters. The upper reach of the creek is very narrow and shallow most of the time, so starting trips even futher downstream may be advisable. Advance scouting of the river is advised.
Central Arkansas, in Dallas, Cleveland, Calhoun and Bradley Counties of southern Arkansas, starting just northwest of Carthage about 20 miles southeast of Malvern and about 35 miles south of Benton. Little Rock is less than an hour away to the northeast on IH 30.
Little Rock 60 miles; Texarkana 120 miles; Fort Smith 180 miles; Oklahoma City 370 miles; Kansas City 438 miles; Dallas 295 miles; Austin 485 miles; San Antonio 565 miles; Houston 416 miles; Albuquerque 900 miles; Phoenix 1,350 miles; Denver 1,000 miles; Grand Junction 1,260 miles; Salt Lake City 1,550 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination point at the river and route taken.)
Water quality is generally good to fair, though possibly containing some pollution from creosote and plywood manufacturing plants near Fordyce in the upper reach of the river. Moro creek is a low volume stream with a shallow gradient and a slow current in normal flow conditions. Generally, you will not get much help from the current, so plan accordingly.
Moro Creek is a low flow stream that is great for fishing just about anytime, but best for paddling right after significant rainfall hits the drainage basin. Flow increases as it nears Moro Bay due to the inflow from many creeks and streams feeding it, so the lower reaches of the river will be more reliable than the upper reaches.
No rapids or major hazards are to be found on Moro Creek, but deadfallen trees forming blockages could pose significant hazards during periods of high water. The overall remoteness of Moro Creek could be considered a hazard for some paddlers, especially in reaches where the distance between access points is many miles.
SH 229 (N 34° 06' 37.61" / W 092° 32' 18.57") on river right at 0.0 miles; SH 48 (N 34° 05' 09.70" / W 092° 31' 15.43") on river left at about miles; Bunn-McGriff Road in Cleveland County (N 34° 00' 09.07" / W 092° 28' 13.10") west of US Highway 167 on river right at about miles; US Highway 167 (N 33° 55' 58.47" / W 092° 25' 03.39") on the Dallas-Cleveland County Line on either side at about miles; Dallas CR 122 / Darby Crossing Road (N 33° 53' 23.24" / W 092° 23' 42.62") east of US Highway 167 on river right at about miles; US Highway 79 Crossing (N 33° 51' 12.93" / W 092° 21' 15.00") on the Dallas-Cleveland County Line on river right at about miles; Barner Street powerline easement road (N 33° 50' 37.58" / W 092° 20' 58.69") on river right at about miles; SH 8 Crossing (N 33° 47' 32.94" / W 092° 20' 00.32") on the Calhoun-Cleveland County Line on river right at about miles; Calhoun CR 75 (N 33° 45' 04.76" / W 092° 20' 21.52") on river right at about miles; Calhoun CR 79 (N 33° 42' 00.83" / W 092° 19' 48.09") on river right at about miles; SH 275 Crossing (N 33° 37' 24.15" / W 092° 19' 28.66") on the Calhoun-Bradley County Line on either side at about miles; US Highway 278 / SH 4 Crossing (N33° 32' 38.56" / W 092° 19' 01.42") on the Calhoun-Bradley County Line between Banks and Harrell on river right at about miles; SH 160 (N 33° 25' 53.69" / W 092° 20' 20.46") just west of Jersey on the Calhoun-Bradley County Line on river left at about miles; Bradley CR 3 on river left / Calhoun CR 29 on river right (N 33° 24' 05.34" / W 092° 21' 19.61") on either side at about miles; Moro Bay State Park boat ramp (N 33° 18' 00.40" / W 092° 20' 59.96") on river left at about miles.
Roads are listed for reference purposes, and public access may not be available at all of them. Distances have not been measured, nor has access been confirmed. Other access points may be available. Vehicle parking at many access points is not particularly great and vehicle safety should be considered when planning to leave vehicles unattended.
There are no known campgrounds or accommodations along Moro Creek other than at Moro Bay State Park.
There are no known river outfitters located along or near Moro Creek. Plan to take your own boats and gear, and arrange your own shuttles.
Moro Creek is a remote, primarily native area that is largely untouched by civilization, which makes it a great place for fishing, photography, wildlife viewing and occasionally canoeing and kayaking. To be sure, it is not a major paddling destination because of its character and the close proximity of much better suited paddling streams, but for those seeking something different an untouched Moro Creek offers plenty to see. Possessing some 63 species of fish it is an ideal location for anglers. The area is largely forested with rolling hills until it flattens approaching Moro Bay and Moro Bay State Park. Distance between some access points is many miles, so be sure you know conditions and are equipped for a trip before starting. Expect little direct sunlight along most of the river's course.