Information on Beech Cr.
Location: Newton Co.; Put in is off of Cave Mtn. Rd. west of Boxley.
You must hike down to Edgemon Cr. from near Ryker just past
the Whitaker Point (Hawksbill Crag) trail head. GET
PERMISSION FROM LOCAL LANDOWNERS BEFORE TRESPASSING ON
PRIVATE LANDS. Take out is at the Beech Cr. bridge at
Hwy 21 at Boxley. You should park at the Boxley bridge over
the Buffalo R., since there is no room to park at the
Beech Cr. bridge.
Topo Quad(s): Boxley
Gradient: 90 fpm (some sections approach 120 fpm)
Length: 7.5 mi
Gauge: The Buffalo R. should usually be running very high - over two
feet of water over the low water bridge at Ponca is a good sign.
There is a gauge painted on the river-right side of a pylon
on the Beech Cr. bridge at Hwy 21. A minimum put-in level would
be around 4 feet and rising. If the creek is already falling
look for at least 5 feet on this gauge. The creek drops out very
quickly (forming many boulder sieves at low water), so plan
for that. The creek has been run at levels over 7 feet on
this gauge, but at really high levels the creek is incredibly
pushy with several near-terminal holes. You may be able to
predict the levels using the Buffalo R. rain gauges which are
linked below. The Ponca and Buffalo Tower gauges are the ones
LINK BUFFALO NATIONAL R. GAUGES (UPDATED HOURLY)
Hazards: continuous tough rapids, strainers, undercuts, etc., etc.
Description: Beech is quite possibly the toughest overall run in
the Ozarks. The first runs/walks of Beech may have occurred in
the early 80's but the first complete run of the creek was
probably done by a small group including Jeff Green in the Fall
of 1986. The rapids are long, continuous, and demanding and the
penalties for mistakes are usually severe. The creek runs through
an almost inaccessible gorge, so hiking out is very unpleasant,
though more than a few boaters have done so. Pins and swims are
not uncommon events, even among boaters who know the creek well,
and equipment can easily be broken or lost if a mishap occurs.
The drops are non-stop, with one drop feeding right into the
next for more than five miles. Multiple slot drops abound,
and paddlers unfamiliar with the creek will need to take
plenty of time to scout to avoid the many dead-end slots and
other hidden traps. A few drops do stand out of the crowd.
The first mile is known as the Jungle Gym, which starts with
a nasty hole just 30 yards from the put-in, and provides
only small eddies to stop in from there. Just before the
confluence of Edgemon Cr. and upper Beech Cr. (or Beech
"Proper" as it has come to be known), Beech Ball is a class
IV drop with a tough move to miss the "Ball" at the end.
At the confluence with Beech Proper, would-be hair
boaters can hike up to look at a series of class IV+ drops
just upstream on the merging creek - if time permits.
About 150 yards from the confluence is White Lightning,
a long slide with huge waves and a big hole at the end!
The last drop that really stands out is Beech Falls, a nasty
looking class IV ledge with a reasonable line just to the
right of the rock splitting the drop at its lip. It's best to
run angling hard left after you come around the rock, since the
rooster tail on the right tends to knock the ever lovin crap
out of paddlers who hit it (to quote creek pioneer Jeff Green).
Of course, this description of the "highlights" omits dozens
of other long, technical drops, some with thin lines around
dangerous hazards. Beech Cr. basically throws everything in
the book at you for five miles in a row, wearing paddlers
down and making it arguably the most difficult overall run
in the Midwest. Several of the area's best creek boaters have
come away from the creek with damaged egos, equipment, and
bodies! Regardless of your skill level, the best way to
tackle Beech is to run it behind someone who has been there
before. The creek is a BIG step up from creeks like Richland,
EFLB, etc. Make sure you're ready for it and take your creek
boat with you for this one. Thanks go to Ryan Johnson and Shelby
Johnson for information on this legendary Ozark creek!
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