The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail


The Rivergator is written for canoeists, kayakers and stand-up-paddleboarders, and anyone else plying the waters of the Lower Mississippi River in human-powered craft.

I am hoping to share the secrets for safe canoeing & kayaking on this often mysterious and confusing waterway — and at the same time dispel some of the myths about paddling the Big River.

Note on title: Rivergator is a take-off from the best seller The Navigator first published in 1801 by Zadok Kramer, (the same guy who numbered the islands).  I am reserving the wesbite address for this.


River-Log is the mile-mile description of the Lower Mississippi River Water Trail for the Rivergator website.

The below mileage corresponds to the mile system used on the 2007 US Army Corps of Engineer River Maps, which can be viewed or downloaded as a pdf from:

RBD = Right Bank Descending
LBD = Left Bank Descending

(Note: in this section of river LBD is usually the shore of the river along the State of Mississippi, and RBD is the State of Arkansas, but due to the changing nature of the river channel, and the unchanging nature of state lines, sometimes Mississippi is found on the right bank descending, and Arkansas on the left bank!)

River Levels refer to the various gages along this section of river.  For the latest river levels and week forecast, visit the NOAA Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center:

The River-Log will refer to the closest river gages along any particular section of the  Water trail using the following acronyms:

Memphis Gage = MG
Helena Gage = HG
Arkansas City = AG
Greenville Gage = GG

River levels for this section will refer to the Helena Gage (HG).  This guide will try and describe all important landings and islands and openings to lakes using three water levels, low water, medium water and high water.   The next designation would be flood stage (FS) or above.  This guide will make few if any descriptions of anything on the Mississippi at or above flood stage.  This guide will make strong recommendations for not paddling on the Mississippi at or above flood stage.

Referring to the Helena Gage (HG):

Low Water = -6 to 20 HG
Medium Water = 21 to 35 HG
High Water = 36 to 43
Flood Stage = 44 and above

[CLICK HERE: Comparison of Mississippi River Gages]

For more historical description of many of these same locations, visit Marion Bragg’s Historic Names and Places on the Lower Mississippi River:

CLICK HERE for the next section