The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Atchafalaya Lower

144.3 LBD God’s Island

The Atchafalaya Splits around God’s Island East into God’s Pass, Ratliffe Pass, Community Pass, Long Island and Horseshoe Island.  Please note: Horseshoe island is off limits as a “Limited Access Area” by the Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area.  Check local regulations before venturing onto.

144.8 RBD Log Island Pass

Log Island Pass flows past Chester’s Cut, Willow Island, Valentor Island, and Mistro Island on its way to the Gulf.  Popular location for fishing and hunting floating houseboat camps, and therefor  not recommended.

145.4 RBD Yvette Island

Once you paddle around God’s Island you will be afforded a glorious view of the open Gulf of Mexico shining like dancing dolphins in front you downstream as far as you can see.  Oh the joy!  What a wonderful feeling!  Paddle as far as you feel like going (weather and wind allowing) then turn back and set up camp on the sandy beaches of  Yvette Island -- or the shell beaches of nearby Melanie Island (half mile downstream at 146 RBD).

146 RBD Melanie Island

Excellent location to turnaround: Melanie Island is the very last island of any size with safe dry ground suitable for stopping, camping or picnicking.  It is also wild, primitive, and full of bird and animal life.  Best of all, Melanie Island features the longest beach on the entire Atchafalaya Delta!  There is a full half mile of beautiful sun-filled shell beaches on Melanie Island, with endless campsites to chose from.   As such, the Rivergator recommends not going beyond this point.  Melanie island would make an excellent choice as a turnaround place for your expedition down the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River systems.  The beach is mostly shells at bottom end, but becomes more sandy towards top end.  Walk the whole thing and savor your successful adventure, and then pick out the best spot for your final camp.

148.5 RBD Donna Island

Two miles out to sea beyond Melanie Island is a an archipelago of five or six islands, all of which are created by the dumping of dredged material to the side of the navigation channel.  This is a changing landscape, due to ongoing dredging.  So the islands you see on Google Earth might be joined by other island.  Do not venture out to these islands except in ideal weather.  If there is no wind, nor any expected storms, paddlers comfortable with long open water crossings could paddle out to any one of these islands for a spectacular turnaround.  If you do so, Donna Island is circled by beaches, with one opening to the northwest, much like an atoll island found elsewhere in the tropics.

149 RBD T. Pat Island

149.8 RBD Skimmer Island

150.5 RBD Eugene Island

Nothing more than a tiny spit of shells, Eugene Island is located adjacent the main ocean-going channel of the Atchafalaya Navigation system.  Not recommended except in ideal conditions, with no wind, no oncoming weather, and no major tide changes expected.  To assist your predictions, there is a tide and current station located here, which can be seen online at:

151.5 LBD Bird Island East

Bird Island East is the very last piece of marshland on the Atchfalaya River system.  Do not venture out this far into the Gulf unless you are certain you will not be encountering wind, oncoming weather, nor any major tide changes.  There is a tiny beach on its south end.  Otherwise this island is nothing but grasses, canes and some scrubby brushes.

Pount Au Fer/Raqet Pass

Two miles past Bird Island East and a full six miles across Athcfalaya Bay past Melanie Island (the last island of any permanent size on the Atchafalaya) is a small but solid island called Pount Au Fer or Raqet Pass (on Google Earth).  Pount Au Fer or Raqet Pass is a curving block of seashells, sands & gravels with beaches all around, and several bays on its backsides, one of them a very protected inlet facing northeast.  Its entire perimeter might measure one mile total.  If you were paddling down the coastline east from the mouth of the Atchafalaya, say towards the mouth of the Mississippi, this would be a safe harbor along the way.

Getting back to Land

There are many choices for your return trip back to land, to meet your ride, or get back to your car.  If you left your car or are meeting a ride in Morgan City you could paddle back up the Atchafalaya.  But if the wind and weather conditions are favorable, you could also paddle across the bay over to the Wax Lake Outlet, and then follow any one of the many bayous and canals back up to the Intracoastal Waterway for a takeout in Berwick/Morgan City.  There is a campground maintained by the Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area in the top middle of the Wax Delta.  So you could paddle across the bay, camp a night, and then paddle out the next day.  That route would make an adventure all in of itself, with great animal and bird watching along the way.  But be ready for hard paddling, especially in high water levels.  If you happened to be paddling the annual Spring Pulse, which sweeps through the Atchafalaya in March, April, sometimes May, you might be doing some very strenuous upstream paddling indeed.  But many paddlers have done this before you, and many more will follow.

 

Here’s a possible scenario for this return trip: 1) paddle down Shell island Pass to Bay.  2) Paddle across Bay.  3) Paddle up East Pass (or any of the other passes) into the heart of the Wax Delta.  Locate WMA campground at top of Camp Island, the highest Island in the Delta.  4) Enjoy beautiful camp.  5) Paddle up any one of the many bayous or canals back to Intracoastal Waterway.  6) Follow Intracoastal Waterway to Berwick/Morgan City Boat Ramps.  Note: Use the WMA Atchafalaya Delta Map to help visualize this route.

Atchafalaya Delta WMA Campground

The WMA campground is located at the top of Campground Pass and Main Pass, at the top end of Camp Island in Crewboat Channel of the Campground Pass.