By Chuck McHenry
The first descent of this creek was by Chris Amelung, Curtiss Elwood, Diane McHenry and myself. We arrived soon after a heavy bout of rain, almost 2″ as I remember. This creek drops about 200 feet in its last mile. Unfortunately, the only option to do this run is carry up from Big Creek along a well defined trail. We went up about a half mile, and from Mountain Bike reconnaissance, I know that there is a lot more cl-II above where we put in, but the meat (140’/mile) is in this section. We traded leads all the way down so everyone would get a “first rapid” descent under their belt.
It was a bit low for us, but even still, the rapids are cl-III-IV variety and a lot of challenging fun. The biggest and juiciest, had heavy wood in it, so it waits to be run! Nevertheless we had pretty much open creek with busy, twisty rapids, and one ledge about 8 feet high. I thought the run was well worth it, and would love to try it again, at higher water maybe, and hopefully get to try the rapid we missed.
The ONLY way to get to Mudlick Creek is come down Big Creek. We parked at the Crane Pond Creek bridge on highway 143 between des Arc and Sam A Baker State Park and took Crane Pond Creek to its intersection with Big Creek. (BTW- as a side note, Bob Lofting, who had multiple first descents on a lot of the out of the way canoeable creeks in the St. Francois Mountains, reported doing Crane Pond Creek from Minimum road to Sam A Baker and said it was a beautiful Cl-I, Cl-II run.)
Once on Big Creek keep a sharp eye on river right, as sometimes gravel piles partially obstruct Mudlick Creek. Once there make your landing and walk up the creek about 50 feet and you’ll intersect the Sam A Baker trail system going right up Mudlick Creek. The takeout is either at the 143 bridge, or further down a mile at the St. Francois River ramp in the park.
A highlight will be going through the Big Creek Shut-ins in Sam a Baker Park.