camping at Silvermines (when Saint is low)

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    • #3216
      • Total Posts: 46

      Hi folks,

      My family is planning a camping trip to the Silvermines area, regardless of whether the Saint is above 3′.  Since this will be only my second visit to the Saint Francis and MTNF in general, I’d like some pointers on

      1) what to expect camping in the tent (not RV) area.  Any beta aside from details I can get from the USFS website?

      2) At 1-3 ft, whether the takeout area/slackwater below the last rapids on the lower Saint have enough water for flatwater practice in a playboat as well as family swimming.  Also other similar opportunities in other waterbodies.

      3) any recommendations for hiking/family activities/groceries/restaurant etc.



      • This topic was modified 8 years, 9 months ago by Jonathan.
      • This topic was modified 8 years, 9 months ago by Jonathan.
    • #3219
      Bill Fordyce
      • Total Posts: 33

      Try to camp in the lower Riverside Campground—there is a good beach, place to swim, practice paddling, and so on…

    • #3220
      • Total Posts: 679

      The Lower Riverside campground is where the RVs are, but there are also tent-only sites.  Campground host Jim is there, so you can get firewood & ice.  It’s closest to the beach and the D-bridge.  There are also a bunch of campsites at the top of the hill heading toward Turkey Creek, but then it’s a longer walk down to the river.

      The on-line reservation system usually doesn’t show available sites within 48 (72?) hours, only further out than that.  So if you can’t see reseservation a day or two ahead, you have to do a walk-in.  If you do make a reservation, Jim will put a sign on the site.

      From the pavilion near Riverside, you can walk up the trail on river right, which many people don’t know about.  You can go up as far as the dam, and see some of the old mine.  Since it’s low water, you can probably cross at the dam & come back the regular path to the D-bridge parking lot.  Not sure if there is much water running thru the dam, but at low water on a nice day you can lie in the breach with water rushing over you.

      Fredericktown has a Walmart (I think with groceries).  Also a good Mexican place, as well as several other restaurants right in the town center.  Mexican is thru town & to the left, another 1/2 mile.  Junk food there too.  You should look at the red rocks at Castor River shut-ins on the other side of Fredericktown.

      You can also go west to Ironton & Arcadia.  Groceries there, plus another Mexican restaurant & Bailey Jo’s BBQ.  In that area you could climb around at Elephant Rocks and/or swim & climb around at Johnson’s Shut-ins  You can also see the results of the Taum Sauk hydroelectric dam failure 10 years ago, at the park entrance.


      – jw

      • This reply was modified 8 years, 9 months ago by jw.
    • #3226
      • Total Posts: 46

      Excellent information.  Thanks!

    • #3227
      Alan Peterson
      • Total Posts: 42


      Welcome to the most interesting area of Missouri. I have been wandering the St. Francois mountains for 50 years and intend to retire there in a couple years. The St. Francois Mountains are different from the rest of the Ozarks because of their volcanic origin. They are some of the oldest rocks in North America. Camping at Silver Mines puts you in the heart of some great recreation. There is also another campsite just south of Silver Mines you might want to check out some time, Marble Creek (on Hwy. E).

      I don’t know what sort of hiking you want to do (easy or strenuous), but there are a lot of opportunities and some great scenery. There are 20 minute hikes to swimming holes (Castor Shut-ins, Johnson’s Shut-ins), 45 minute hikes to scenery (Hughes Mountain, Lower Rock Creek, Mina Sauk Falls), day hikes (the Ozark Trail section from Crane Lake to Marble Creek, Buford Mountain, Rockpile Mountain), and several-day or many-day backpacking hikes throughout Mark Twain.

      If you want the most strenuous hike in Missouri, start at the St. Francis River on Hwy. E and climb straight up Black Mountain. The elevation at the river is 540 ft. The peak of Black mountain is 1502 ft. So, it’s only about 60 feet short of a 1,000 foot climb (the biggest elevational change in Missouri from base to summit). There ain’t no trail, it’s just straight up climbing.

      Taum Sauk is the highest mountain in Missouri, just south of Ironton. Mina Sauk Falls, on Taum Sauk Mountain, is the highest waterfall in Missouri, but needs some rain to run well.

      If you’re lucky, you might see a collared lizard on Taum Sauk Mountain, or find a scorpion under a rock on Hughes Mountain.

      There are swimming holes at Silver Mines, Marble Creek, Castor Shut-ins (some people call Castor the Pink Rocks), and most every park/river/creek in the area. There is an officially designated swimming beach at Council Bluff Lake.

      If it is too dry to float the St. Francis, there is Fredericktown City Lake, Council Bluff Lake, Crane Lake, Hematite Lake, and the Black River near Lesterville/Annapolis usually has enough flow for an easy float.

      If you have an interest in history, Fort Davidson is one of the most important Civil War battles fought in Missouri, near Ironton. St. Joe State Park has a museum dedicated to the history of the area’s lead mining.

      If you want to ride 4-wheelers, St. Joe State Park has ATV trails all over the place.

      As for places to eat:

      Fredericktown has cheap/inexpensive/pricey. There are several on or around the town square. There’s Chinese, Mexican, Burgers, BBQ, sit-down, take-out, etc.
      Ironton also has a few. Bailey Jo’s is applewood smoked meats. If you like smoked meat, on the south side of Ironton, almost out of town, there is Ruble’s Meat Market. There are no tables, it is strictly a meat counter. However, on Fridays and Saturdays, they have smoked chickens and smoked ribs. They are smoked all night long and sold beginning around 9 a.m. Damn they’re good.

      WalMart in Fredericktown does have a grocery store. There is also a grocery store on the other side of Fredericktown (Country Mart, I think). There’s one in Ironton too.

      If you want to check out things to do in the area, Google the following words and check out the images:

      Hughes Mountain
      Buford Mountain
      Elephant Rocks
      Castor Shut-ins
      Johnson’s Shut-ins
      Taum Sauk Mountain
      Mina Sauk Falls
      Royal Gorge
      Lee Bluff
      Marble Creek Campgrounds
      Council Bluff Lake
      Hematite Lake
      Crane Lake
      Lower Rock Creek, Cathedral Canyon
      Rockpile Mountain
      Fort Davidson
      Knob Lick Mountain
      Ozark Trail, Crane Lake section
      Missouri collard lizard

      I hope you get to enjoy these mountains as much as I have for the past half century.

      Alan Peterson

    • #3229
      • Total Posts: 90
    • #3236
      • Total Posts: 46

      Such a wealth of info.  My whole family is looking forward to this, as am I.  Thanks again.

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