navigation bar

Spring River, Arkansas
Report by Marc W. McCord

Hardy Beach (SH 175) to Ravenden (1st Street Bridge)
~ 18.66 miles

navigation bar River descriptions categorized by state First Aid and general safety information Southwest Paddler on-line store Southwest Paddler Yellow Pages listings Environmental issues and concerns Photos of rivers and surrounding areas Trip reports with photos How to advertise on Southwest Paddler Advertiser Index Internet links to related information and services Southwest Paddler visitor comments General disclaimer Product Reviews Federal and state navigation laws Credits for contributors Web Campfire

SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

The Spring River forms in Howell County of southcentral Missouri just a few miles south of the Eleven Point River and near the Mark Twain National Forest, then flows southward as an underground river into Arkansas at Mammoth Springs in Fulton County where it forms on the surface just south of the Missouri State line. It then flows down through Fulton County, across the northeast tip of Sharp County and into Lawrence County to its confluence with the Eleven Point River just above SH 361. The river then flows a few miles south to its confluence with the Black River, also flowing down from Missouri, near Old Davidsonville State Historical Park. The total length of the river is only about 54 miles, but it packs a lot of excitement and scenery in a few miles. Generally, the Spring River is a year-round paddling stream, assuming you are able to withstand the rigors of the Missouri Ozarks winter, which can be quite cold.

Below Hardy Beach the Spring River is primarily a flatwater stream with a few small Class I to I+ rapids that just about anybody can enjoy. Like the reach above, this reach of the river has numerous ledge drops that add to its fun and scenic nature. Fishing is excellent. Because of the near continuous flow this section is very popular with local paddlers, as well as visitors who venture here to enjoy this wonderful river, though it is not nearly as crowded as the reach from Mammoth Springs to Hardy where most of the outfitters are located. It is an opportunity to take in some of Mother Nature's glory. The surrounding area is quite remote, though several very small towns are not that far away. Very little development of any kind is found along the river, and trees dominate the riverbanks. You can experience the changing of all seasons on the Spring River, depending upon the times of year you choose to paddle here.

The spring-fed stream is generally cold, even in summertime, maintaining a constant 58° F temperature. You don't have to wear water-repelling garments in the dead of summer, but they are recommended in fall, winter and spring months. You can almost drag beverages behind you in the river and keep them cold enough to enjoy, but they would probably get caught on rocks or be taken as bait by a fish. Bring your camera, because this area of northcentral Arkansas offers ample photographic opportunities.


This section of the Spring River is located in Sharp and Lawrence Counties of northeastern Arkansas. It flows north to south from Hardy down to Ravenden at the lower end of this run.

Distance from major cities

Little Rock 140 miles; Fort Smith 300 miles; Dallas 465 miles; Austin 655 miles; San Antonio 735 miles; Houston 711 miles; Oklahoma City 484 miles; Kansas City 563 miles; Memphis 150 miles; Denver 1,081 miles; Salt Lake City 1,245 miles; Phoenix 1,465 miles; Albuquerque 1,021 miles (all distance are approximate, and depend upon starting point, put-in destination at the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Water quality is excellent, but not drinkable without purification. The Flow is C3 - clear, cold and continuous is how to best describe it. At nearly 10 million gallons per hour, the spring pumps plenty of water into the river to keep it continually flowing, so you can paddle here anytime you are outfitted for the weather and climate conditions.

Best times to go

Anytime is a great time to paddle the Spring River, with the possible exception of during a winter blizzard. The flow is always more than adequate and the few small rapids on this section are only moderately challenging. A wetsuit or drysuit with a base layer might also be appropriate on this river in fall, winter and early spring months due to the cold air and water temperatures.

Hazards to navigation

The greatest hazards on this section of the Spring River are the cold air (in fall, winter and early spring) and water temperatures. There are no major rapids of significance that could cause problems for most boaters. Watch out for low-water bridges, and portage them when and if necessary to avoid pinning or wrapping.

River access points

Hardy Beach Public Access on Beach Road (N 36° 18' 45.76" / W 091° 28' 22.74") off SH 175 at 0.0 miles; Possible River Road access (N 36° 15' 34.10" / W 091° 24' 30.16") on river right at about 5.91 miles; Possible boat ramp access off River Road (N 36° 15' 12.68" / W 091° 24' 24.83") at about 6.36 miles; Possible access on river left off SH 58E at Williford (N 36° 14' 54.27" / W 091° 21' 12.88") at about 10.33 miles; Boat ramp just downriver from the 1st Street Bridge (N 36° 13' 29.39" / W 091° 15' 02.12") on river left in Ravenden at 18.66 miles. There are no other known access points along this section of the Spring River. Consult local Sheriff to confirm possible access points mentioned above. Williford is in Sharp County and Ravendon is in Lawrence County.

Campgrounds and accommodations

There are no campgrounds located along this section of the Spring River. There are many natural campsites available along the river. There are commercial campgrounds available on the Upper Spring River at Mammoth Springs and Hardy.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

At least one commercial outfitter, located on the reach above this one, offers rentals, shuttles and/or river information along the Spring River. Plan on setting up and running your own shuttles and providing your own boats and gear if not contracting with a local outfitter.

Reviewer's comments

While offering little to no major whitewater adventures this section of the Spring River is still a beautiful and exciting place to paddle. Ledge drops similar to the reach above, though fewer in number, attest to the flattening of the river in this area. Its generally remote nature, surrounded by spectacular scenery, wildlife, birds and fish life makes paddling here a true pleasure. Best of all, its year-round nature allows paddlers to enjoy this stream almost anytime they are capable of handling whatever Mother Nature throws at them. The water is cold, and preparations should be made for that, especially if there is the chance of an unplanned swim. A camera would be very appropriate for trips on this section, as well as the rest of the Spring River. It's a little off the beaten path, but that keeps it from being a county fair atmosphere. There may still be some other paddlers joining you on trips here in susmmer months.

Technical Data
Class Rating I to I+
Length ~ 18.66 miles
Minimum Flow cfs
Optimum Flow cfs
Maximum Flow cfs
First Put-in Hardy Beach public access
Lat. / Long. N 36° 18' 45.76" / W 091° 28' 22.74"
Last Take-out 1st Street Bridge in Ravenden
Lat. / Long. N 36° 13' 29.39" / W 091° 15' 02.12"
Elevation 339 - 274 feet msl
Gradient 3.48 fpm av.
USGS Gauge Web: Hardy
Boats Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts
Season Year-round, weather permitting
Permits No

Ozark Wilderness Waterways Club - a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Ozark streams

Kansas City Whitewater Club

Canoeman River Guide Service - Guided river trips in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah

Lone Star Paddler - the paddlesports web site of Marc W. McCord

Click the links below for information regarding the section of the Spring River where you want to paddle.

[ Spring River Homepage ] [ Mammoth Springs to Hardy ] [ Ravenden to Old Davidsonville State Park ] [ South Fork of the Spring River ]

Southwest Paddler
Click to return to the Southwest Paddler Homepage
Home Page
Southwest Paddler

Arkansas Rivers Index
Canoeman River

Guide Services
Return to the homepage
Home Page

CobraGraphics - Web Designs with a Bite!

Send E-mail This web page designed, created and maintained by
Marc W. McCord dba CobraGraphics
© October 2, 2002. All rights reserved.
Last updated December 30, 2014

Copyright © 1997-2015, Marc W. McCord dba CobraGraphics. All rights reserved. Southwest Paddler, CobraGraphics and Canoeman River Guide Services are trademarks of Marc W. McCord dba CobraGraphics. The textual, graphic, audio, and audio/visual material in this site is protected by United States copyright law and international treaties. You may not copy, distribute, or use these materials except for your personal, non-commercial use. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners. All original photographs on this web site are the exclusive property of Marc W. McCord or other designated photographers and may not be copied, duplicated, reproduced, distributed or used in any manner without prior written permission under penalty of US and International laws and treaties.