The Elk River and its scenic tributary, Big Sugar Creek, have become a favorite float with canoeists in the western part of the state. Big Sugar provides good camping and fishing, and is an unusually clear stream. In the Pineville and Noel areas, summer cottages are numerous, but the Elk below Noel again has a more isolated quality.
Difficulty: mostly II, seldom over.
Gradients: general – 6.5; Big Sugar from Hwy. 90 to Powell – 8.9; to Cyclone – 6.5; to Pineville – 7.2; (Elk River) to Shadow Lake – 4.
Elk River Mile by Mile Description
24.5 U.S. Hwy. 71 Bridge. Kozy Kamp. Private campground. River road on south side.
25.9 Road close on left.
27.4 Road on left bank at Riverside Inn.
30.3 Indian Creek (on right) nearly doubles volume of river. Indian Creek is a good float stream and is described separately. Water fast and heavy just below here at high water. Use caution at bridge.
30.7 Kansas City Southern R.R. Bridge, closely followed by concrete low-water bridge.
31.2 Ginger Blue Resort on right.
31.7 “Shady Beach,” good private campground and take-out, on right.
32.0 MDC Mt. Shira Access on right.
35.0 Mouth of Butler Creek, at Noel, is adjacent to Hwys. 59 and 90. Take-out or continue down Shadow Lake.
35.4 Hwy. 59 Bridge over Shadow Lake.
35.8 Dam. Portage.
36.3 Road close on right. Fair put-in.
37.8 Henderson’s Campground. Private. Good put-in.
45.3 State Hwy. 43 Bridge. MDC Cowskin Access.
47.3 Oklahoma state line. Elk River becomes Lake of the Cherokees in Oklahoma.