Paddling the Moreau: Hwy 50 to Missouri River

I woke up today with an itch to get on the water.

Let’s be real.. I wake up most days with an itch to get on the water.

And if I had planned ahead, we could’ve gone to a scenic remote river like the Eleven Point. But, since life is busy right now (and that’s okay), I decided the next best thing would be to explore a local river that I’d never explored before.

There are a few paddling options near Jefferson City – the Maries, Missouri, Osage, Gasconade, Big Piney, and the Moreau. I’ve paddled a little on the Osage and plan to explore more, but I wanted to check out the Moreau after a tip from a friend last week.

Sleepless and bleary-eyed, I searched for the Moreau water gauge and saw that it was at 2.5′, so I woke up Mike and told him I needed to get in the kayak, ASAP. He’s awesome, so before long we were loading up the boats, filling up water bottles and hydration bladders (90-degrees today!), and heading toward the Moreau River access at highway 50.

I mean, we did stop at Love2Nourish for donuts and smoothies on the way… obviously.

Off of Highway 50 East out of Jefferson City, we turned left at the Liberty Rd./Shamrock Rd. exit, followed the signs to the Moreau 50 Access, and we were there! The parking lot was empty and we were able to get unloaded and on the water so quickly.

The Moreau winds all around the Jeff City area for quite a ways beginning at the confluence of the North and South Moreau Creeks southwest of town, crossing under highway 54, passing through Honey Creek Wildlife Area, under Tanner Bridge Rd., Bald Hill Rd., Highway 50, and then finally emptying out into the Missouri River.

Standing at the access, I knew if we went to the right we’d see the Missouri River before long, and I was really curious what that might be like. So, right we went!

It was super hot and sunny out, and the water was pretty brown and murky… but it was still SO nice to be outside in my kayak. We saw a blue heron, wood peckers, and several unidentifiable fish jumping up out of the water. Once I realized they weren’t snakes, I felt much better about things.

There wasn’t any current to speak of, so if I wanted to move, I had to paddle.

Before long, we were far enough away from highway 50 that I couldn’t hear the traffic noise anymore – which I loved. Only the sounds of the leaves rustling in the wind and an occasional crow cawing. Intermittent rock bluffs added to the smile on my face.

After passing under Algoa Rd. bridge, we saw the mouth of the Missouri River. I’ve never actually paddled on the mighty MO, so it was fun to be so close to it and dream about what it would be like to kayak the length of it one day.

We then turned around and paddled back to where we put in – a few stops along the way to rest under shade or chat with a fellow boater – of which we only saw 3 or 4 during the whole 3 hours we were out there.

As we neared the boat ramp where we put in, I wanted to keep paddling to see what it was like on the other side of the highway, so we continued on under the bridge before turning around to finish our trip for the day.

All in all, a pretty, albeit hot, day for a paddle. With plenty of water and sunscreen, it was an enjoyable float, especially since it was so close to home. I’ll remember that as we head three hours away this weekend for a trip down the Eleven Point River.

The next time I’m desperate for a quiet paddle, I’ll definitely explore more of the Moreau River!

After a much deserved nap and shower, Mike drove me to Hermann, Missouri to eat at Vintage 1847- a restaurant connected to the Stone Hill Winery. Let me tell you… I have food allergies (dairy/egg) and I’m celiac (no gluten!), so it’s usually an underwhelming experience at most restaurants.


The service and the food was amazing, and there were several dishes on the menu that were “Katie-friendly”.

Can you feel my happiness???

If you ever visit Vintage 1847, you HAVE to try the Ozark Hellbender wine. It’s hands-down the best wine I’ve ever had. You’re welcome!

We clean up pretty nice if you ask me. 🙂

Okay, back to the paddling blog…

Moreau River Stats:

Distance from Jefferson City – About a five minute drive
Directions to Put In – Head east on Hwy 50 out of Jefferson City and turn left at the Liberty Rd/Shamrock Rd exit. Follow the signs that say Moreau 50 Access. There is a nice gravel parking lot you can leave your vehicle.
Total Float Length – About 3.5 miles round trip
Total Float Time – About 1.5 hours
Difficulty – Requires zero skill because the water is basically as still as a pond, so you’ll have to have some muscle and endurance if you want to keep moving at a good pace.
Scenery – Typical rural central Missouri landscape. Lots of trees, a few rock bluffs, the Algoa Rd. bridge, several birds and fish. The banks were super muddy because the water level was low.
Shuttle Services – Not applicable for this section.
Places to Stop Off – Nope. I had to pee about halfway through and there was not a place to stop that wasn’t horribly muddy.
Water Level Gauge – Tanner Bridge Gauge

Published by adventurewithkatie82

Newbie adventure writer! Learn more about me at

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