The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Atchafalaya Lower

95.4 LBD Blue Hole

If you make landing here you will find a beautiful blue hole surrounded by grass, and then woods.  There is a cabin on the far side of the lake and it is marked no trespassing.

96.1 Texas Gas Transmission Co. 12” gas pipeline

Possible landing place for picnicking or camping.  Texas Gas has dropped another 12” gas pipeline under the river at this point.

96.7 Old Pipeline Canal

Possible landing and dry spot for picnics or camps.

97.3 Louisiana Intrastate Gas Corp 4” gas pipeline

98.2 RBD Myette Point

Paddlers can cut off the main channel at the top end of a big island and gain access to Myette Point Public Boat Launch and surrounding islands and back channels.  Possible high water forest camp at top end of the separation island.

MORGAN CITY GAGE (MCG)

Below Myette Point the Rivergator will switch to the Morgan City Gage (MCG) which can be found online at:

http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=lch&gage=mcgl1&prob_type=stage&source=hydrograph

 

Paddlers planning a trip down the Atchafalaya should consult the Morgan City Gage to get the best idea about what’s going on with water levels on the bottom end of the Atchafalaya.  Reading the Morgan City Gage with the following divisions for low water, medium water and high water will yield a fairly accurate picture of how much dry ground  will be showing at different locations, which campsites and parks are still above water, and which landings are still usable for vehicles.  Remember what you see on Google Earth might be vastly different than the actual water level and conditions of the sandbars and islands, and other places of importance to paddlers.

Water levels according to the Morgan City Gage

Low Water = -5 to -1 MCG 

Medium Water = -1 to 3 MCG

High Water = 3 to 6 MCG

Bank Full = 5 MCG

Flood Stage = 6 MCG and above

(MCG = Morgan City Gage)

 

Flood Stage Warning: above 6 MCG paddlers are advised to stay off the river.  Limited access.  Most landings and approach roads will be underwater.  Most islands will be gone.  No easy camping.  All sandbars will be covered.  Fast waters with many hazards.  All islands and landings will be surrounded by flooded forests full of snags, strainers, sawyers and all other dangerous conditions associated with floodwater moving through trees.  Docks, wharves, dikes and any other man-made objects will create strong whirlpools, violent boils, and fast eddies.  Towboats will create large waves.  The Rivergator will not describe the river and its islands at any levels above flood stage. 

 

4 Feet on the Morgan City Gage is considered Action stage. Water will move up the bank and across access roads below the city dock. Floodwall gates should be closed by the 5 foot stage to protect against higher stages. Vessel traffic will be affected by stronger river current and vessel traffic safety rules will be strictly enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard.

 

At 5 feet the floodwall gates will be closed to protect against higher stages. Vessel traffic will be affected by stronger river current and vessel traffic safety rules will be strictly enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard.

 

6 feet is flood stage. The city dock will be under water. Water will cover the lower end of Belleview Front Street in Berwick. Vessel traffic will be affected by stronger river current and vessel traffic safety rules will be strictly enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard.

 

At 7 feet the buildings at the foot of Ann Street on the river side of the flood wall will flood as water overtops the Rio Oil Company dock. Buildings on the river side of the Berwick floodwall will flood. River traffic restrictions will be strictly enforced.

 

By 9 feet the structures on the river side of protection walls in Morgan City and Berwick will be under water. River traffic restrictions will be strictly enforced.

 

At 12 feet there is a major flood threat. Back water flooding of Bayou Bouef will cause damage east of Morgan City to the community of Amelia. Structures on the river side of protection walls in Morgan City and Berwick will be under water. River traffic restrictions will be strictly enforced.

 

20 feet is catastrophic flood threat. Evacuation of the cities of Berwick and Morgan City is strongly recommended. Flood walls protect the cities to an elevation of 21 feet.

Tidal Influence

Below Myette Point you will start feeling the tidal influence.  Every night when you pull up to a camp be sure to add on a foot for waves and rising tides and pull your vessel up an extra foot above river level.  The tides will probably not be more than a couple of inches at at first, at Myette Point to American Pass.  But you will experience 1/2 foot to possibly a full foot change at Morgan City, and possibly more in the open channels and bays leading out to the Gulf of Mexico below the Intracoastal Waterway. 

 

You have probably already experienced some water level changes due to tides without realizing it.  At low water Butte La Rose experiences infinitesimal changes due to the pull of the moon.  The effect becomes very slowly more pronounced the further downstream you paddle.  But now at Myette Point, Morgan City and below you will notice a half foot change from high to low tide, which could affect your campsite choices.  Tidal change combined with increased freighter speed can mean big changes in river levels at your camps, and even bigger waves (when the tide is coming in, and a big boat steams by).  To be absolutely safe about your campsite, choose places that are at least two vertical feet above water level at high tide if you are camped on the main channel.  If you are off main channel (say within one of the passes) you will only need to stay one foot above high tide to be safe.

 

We will keep our eyes on the river gages in Morgan City as the Rivergator continues downstream to the Gulf, but also on tidal readings.  As we approach Morgan City, the effect of river changes diminishes and the tidal effect increases.  Below Morgan City we will rely entirely on tide charts, and leave river gages behind!  Remember, there are 2 high tides every day, and two low tides, as related to the pull of the moon and (to a lesser extent) that of the sun.  Tidal predications are complicated by the orbiting of the sun and moon, but also by wind over the ocean, but local winds, air pressure, can have an effect, as well as the shape of the shoreline.  Inlets, for instance tend to increase tidal effect.  Incoming storms might pile the water higher and result in higher high tides and higher low tides.  Strong Winds blowing offshore might do the opposite, creating extra low tides.  It’s best to read online charts and watch for storm warnings as you paddle towards Gulf, to get the most accurate prediction.