Greer Spring

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Greer Spring (Big Ozark Spring)
Greer Spring-Oct2013-067.jpg
Country United States
State Missouri
Region Ozark Plateau
Source Greer Spring Outlet
 - location Eleven Point River basin, Salem Plateau, Ozark Plateau, Missouri
 - elevation 564 ft (172 m)
 - coordinates 36°47′12″N 91°20′51″W / 36.78667°N 91.34750°W / 36.78667; -91.34750 [1]
Mouth Eleven Point River
 - location Greer, Oregon County, Ozark Plateau, Missouri
 - elevation 519 ft (158 m) USGS 7.5 min topo quad map
Length 1.4 mi (2 km)
Discharge for Greer Spring
 - average 360 cu ft/s (10 m3/s) 1981-2009 [1]
 - max 1,770 cu ft/s (50 m3/s)
U.S. NNL Designated: 1980

Greer Spring is a first magnitude spring located in the southeast portion of the Ozark Plateau, in Oregon County in south-central Missouri within the boundaries of the Mark Twain National Forest. The spring is the second largest spring in the Ozarks, with an average discharge of 360 cubic feet (10 m3) of water per second.[1] Big Spring in neighboring Carter County is the largest spring in the Ozarks region. Greer Spring was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1980.[2]

The Spring Outlet[edit]

The spring emerges at the bottom of a narrow chasm. An upper outlet flowing from a cavern is only a fraction of Greer Spring's large flow. About 100 feet (30 m) downstream (north) the main outlet boils forcefully to the surface in a confusion of deep, aqua blue water, moss covered rocks and frothy whitewater. The newly formed surface stream then races down a small, steep, hardwood blanketed gorge dropping 65 feet (20 m) in elevation through constant rapids for 1.4 miles (2.3 km) to its confluence with the Eleven Point River. Greer Spring greatly increases the flow of the river, ensuring ample water for recreational activities, such as canoeing, even in the dry, summer months. The vast amounts of spring water change the Eleven Point River into a cold water stream for several miles downstream. The spring's cold water also creates ideal conditions for trout. The mouth of the spring branch is less than 500 feet (150 m) upstream (west) of the Missouri Route 19 bridge over the Eleven Point River. Greer Spring may be the most secluded and undisturbed big spring in the Ozarks. The spring has been owned by the U.S. National Forest Service since 1993.[3] Before 1993 the spring was in the caring hands of private ownership. The area surrounding the spring lacks any fish hatcheries or even roads, the site has remained very scenic and unspoiled despite past mill operations on the site.

Greer Spring main outlet. Pictured here discharging 401 cu ft/s (11.4 m3/s).


The United States National Forest Service maintains a trail to the spring. The trailhead is located 18 miles (29 km) south of Winona and 7 miles (11 km) north of Alton on Missouri Highway 19 about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) south of the Highway 19 bridge that crosses the Eleven Point River and just north of the tiny town of Greer. A gravel parking area on the west side of Highway 19 provides parking for the trail. Visitors to the spring are common despite a mile long hike. A number of rules and regulations have been placed on the area. A few noteworthy regulations that should be considered before packing for a visit include; no floating, no swimming, no wading, no disposable items, no pets without leashes.[3] For a full list of the rules visit the; Mark Twain National Forest, Greer Spring and Trail, link below.


The first gristmill on the spring branch was built by Captain Samuel Greer in 1859. The spring was subsequently named after the Confederate captain. The mill was later destroyed during the American Civil War however the mill was rebuilt. In 1883 the old mill was removed to make way for a new roller mill completed in 1899. The mill changed ownership until 1922 when it ceased operation. Very little remains of mill operations exist today near the spring. The mill itself is still standing near the top of east side of the gorge. As of 2013, plans are currently being developed in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service and a newly formed non-profit for a mill restoration. Difficult access, private ownership, and a remote location have all aided in protecting this karst treasure.

Greer Spring branch roaring toward the Eleven Point River.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]