In sharp contrast to the more western Ozark streams, the upper St. Francis cannot be called a “float” stream. It presents a challenge to the experienced canoeist. Due to its boulderstrewn course, it can be run only during high or moderately high water; that is, in spring or after rather heavy rains. Both the St. Francis and its tributary, Big Creek, run a straighter course than float streams, through narrow defiles of resistant granitic Rock called shut-ins. Big Creek is floatable only in spring or early summer. The rougher sections of these streams are clearly indicated in the descriptions below. Due to their relatively hazardous nature, these sections provide some of the wildest scenic river runs in the state. For shut-ins sections, it is advisable to carry only lunch and other small items in the canoe and to take life jackets and enough rope to line canoes through bad places if deemed necessary. In high water, decked canoes would be advisable.
Map courtesy of http://missouricanoe.org