The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Simmesport, Louisiana

Simmesport was founded by Bennet Robert Semmes (1811-1888), one-time owner of White Hall Plantation which was located on the opposite bank of the Atchafalaya River.  Simmesport is located in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 2,161 at the 2010 census, with approx 50% white and 50% black.   In December 2005 industrialist Frank Stronach founded a new community just south of Simmesport known as Canadaville, a place intended to house people displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Canadaville, Louisana

Canadaville (formally Magnaville) was a small community just south of Simmesport on LA Hwy 105 that existed for five years between 2005 and 2010.  It was a project by Austro-Canadian industrialist Frank Stronach to build an experimental model community for people displaced by Hurrican Katrina.  Canadaville occupied 912 acres of land near the Atchafalaya River and opened in early December 2005. Rather than simply providing temporary shelter to the evacuees, Stronach intended Canadaville to help its residents integrate into a long-term holistic farming community that would raise livestock and seafood to be served at Gulfstream Park in Palm Beach, Florida.  The community was technically called Magnaville but the community members themselves decided that they preferred to be known as Canadaville.  The 75 mobile housing units are 1420 square feet (132 square meters) in size, and have three bedrooms and two bathrooms, air conditioning, washers, dryers, and other amenities. As former Canadian MP Dennis Mills described it, “this is no FEMA Village”  Residents, which numbered over 200 by August 2006, Katrina’s first anniversary, were able to stay rent-free for five years, with the requirement that (if able-bodied) they contribute to the community by learning new skills or using their existing skills. Since many of the Katrina evacuees were extremely poor and generally not well-educated, Canadaville’s backers hoped that the Canadaville experience would help the evacuees gain self-reliance that they didn’t have before. Stronach explained, “we would hopefully be able to put in an infrastructure whereby you would create a new life for them, a life of hope, spirit, so that they will be self-supporting and not on welfare. That’s the idea.”  In 2007, CTV Television Network (Canada) aired a documentary called “Welcome to Canadaville,” showing the opposition that the Canadaville project met from some residents of its host town, Simmesport, led by the mayor. “Welcome to Canadaville” was directed by Mike Sheerin and produced by 90th Parallel Productions.  Another documentary entitled “Canadaville, USA” was produced by DLI Productions.  Canadaville shut down at the end of 2010 and is now known as Port of Avoyelles.

6.0 RBD Bunge Dock

6.2 RBD Kirk Wood Landing

7.0 RBD Deer Range Landing

9.0 RBD Lower Deer Range Landing

9.3 LBD Bayou Moreau

9 – 11 RBD Odenburg Island Dikes

The Odenburg Island Dikes create a series of 4-5 pockets where sand accumulates above and below the dikes to form good protected campsites in low and medium water levels, up to around 20 SG.

10.1 Williams Landing

10.6 LBD Small Dune

11 LBD Jacobry Landing

12.2 LBD McCrea Landing

12.5 LBD Marine Bayou

Marine Bayou evolves out of Horse Bayou which is formed from Bayou Thornton and Bayou Fisher.  Now cut off from the river by the levee it is forced southward to Middle Bayou which joins Starks Bayou, which flows through Hog Lake as Lake Bayou.

12.8 LBD Fairfield Landing

12.8 LBD McCrea Lake

13 – 20 Atchafalaya Squiggles

Between miles 13 and 20 the river meanders through four tight bends of the river around four points.  Tow pilots call these “the squiggles.”  For tow pilots pushing a heavy load it requires a good bit of maneuvering to get safely through the squiggles, especially in high water.  Give tows extra room when paddling through.  The water can flow strong, with giant eddies reaching outwards off of each point, forcing the water into focused tongues.  These tongues of water are the fastest water on the river, and favored by tows and paddlers alike.  You’ll have to yield right-of-way to tows, of course.  But a fun and elegant paddler’s move, is to do a sashay right or left into the eddy.  Spin around in the eddy while the tow plows on through the tight place.  You might as well kick back, take a deep breath, enjoy the scenery, have a snack, take a good swig of water, maybe even jump in for a swim.  This is what river life is all about!  Once the tow passes, dig your paddle in and cut back into the fast water (at an upstream angle is usually best), swing around and continue on your merry way!


The squiggles also create the best area for camping so far seen on the Atchafalaya.  Excellent picnicking, swim stops, and stretch your leg places also.  If it is that time of day, look for a campsite here.  There is one beautiful dune after another, on both sides of the river.  We’ll describe the best ones below.  At low water there are a dozen possible dunes to stop on in the Squiggles.  As the river rises, the choices diminish, at bank full you’ll find a small patch of dry sand at Lone Tree Point, but otherwise it will be camping on grass, or in the trees.  The floodplain broadens here, and the levee fall back as the river convulses back and forth.  The enlarged batture means quieter landings and less chances for surprise visitors… just another advantage of the squiggles!

13.2 RBD Porcupine Point

A high bluff of sand with an inlet behind it is found at Lone Tree Point, making a beautiful campsite at all water levels, with good protection from winds or storms.  There is a wetlands behind Porcupine Point, which becomes connected to the river around 30SG.   Mark River reported on this location:  “ We arrived at a high bluff full of green grass and decide this is the place for the evening. We quickly realize the deep green of the grass is from a herd of cows frequenting the area. We pay no mind, but marvel at the small runnel of water feeding the small pond filled with beautiful yellow rockets. The river is still on the rise and the rate of the water is increasing in the small stream.  These small creeks play a huge role in the beginning of the spawn and the reproduction of reptiles, amphibians and mammals. The small pond will be full of frog eggs, which is a treat for spawning fish fattening up for the spring reproduction. They provide plentiful water supply for young mammals.  The morning came quickly as I was serenaded by frogs and the sound of turkeys. I’ve never heard turkeys call at night, and I figured some local was practicing his call. I paid no mind and slept like a newborn. The stream had increased its velocity and fish were starting to enter the small pond that turned to a lake. The canoe was tied in the stream and a spotted gar used the canoe to take a break from the current. Gail, one of our teammates, lunged out to successfully catch it. We admired its beautiful pattern of spots and released it unharmed. I take a walk to explore the terrain and noticed a unusual hump on a exposed tree branch. Looking closer, I realize, it’s a tree frog. After further research, I learned it was a Mexican Tree Frog. Usually this frog ranges throughout the southwest states, but to see it in northern Louisiana could bring up the argument about global warming.”  (Mark River)


From John Ruskey Journals Tuesday, March 17, 2015: “I am on a red-cliff cutbank with a five foot drop into the river.  Some of it is collapsing, but the red sand/mud layering seems to be more stable than the black/grey/sand layering of the Mississippi, a steady water roaring white noise feature created by an offshore buoy fills the ambient sonic environment completely overpowering all other sound sources including sporadic highway traffic (over the levee), bird’s songs, and the chorus of frogs behind camp in the slough.  The slough in the middle of our camp is filling up faster and faster as the river rises.  The thinnest sliver of moon is visible pre-dawn, the last night of the old moon, the 28-day cycle of the new, old and none, the never-ending circle of birth and death and rebirth, the story of life forever revolving over our heads and reminding those who pause, look, and take a moment to reflect in the beautiful recurring pattern of it all and our own lonely lives exemplified in the heavens.  Turbulent waters roaring underneath the Simmesport Railroad Swing Bridge, a large dune of sand bank left below, the only sand seen in the first fifteen miles of the Atchafalaya.”

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Middle Mississippi & Bluegrass Hills / Bootheel 195-0, 954-850 ST. LOUIS TO CARUTHERSVILLE
Chickasaw Bluffs 850 – 737 CARUTHERSVILLE TO MEMPHIS
Upper Delta 737 – 663 MEMPHIS TO HELENA
Middle Delta 663 – 537 HELENA TO GREENVILLE
Loess Bluffs 437 – 225 VICKSBURG TO BATON ROUGE
Atchafalaya River 159 – 0 SIMMESPORT TO MORGAN CITY
Atchafalaya Upper
Consider The Atchafalaya  
The Atchafalaya  
Alternate Route To The Gulf Of Mexico: The Atchafalaya River  
Big Geography Geography  
Atchafalaya Exit  
Intro: Atchafalaya River  
The Atchafalaya River: Best Route To The Gulf  
Best Water Levels To Paddle To The Gulf  
Traffic And Industry On The Atchafalaya  
Who Is The Rivergator Written For?  
Reading The Rivergator:  
Panel Of Experts:  
Wild Miles:  
Warning: Stay Away From Intake Canals!  
What Are The Wild Miles?  
Big Trees And Floodplain:  
Important Note To Paddlers:  
Your Route: Main Channel Vs. Back Channel  
The Atchafalaya Split  
Maps And Mileage  
USACE 2012 Atchafalaya River And Outlets To Gulf Of Mexico  
Louisiana Geological Survey Atchafalaya Basin Map  
Maps Of The Atchafalaya Delta  
River Speed and Trip Duration  
Dangers Of Paddling Through Morgan City  
Expert Paddlers Only!  
Wind Direction And Speed  
Atchafalaya Delta Tides  
Tidal Influence:  
Estimate Your Camp Height  
Tidal Coefficient  
Tides In Rivers  
Tidal Bore  
Water Speed In The Passes  
Which Pass?  
Wax Lake Outlet: Alternate Route To The Gulf  
Shell Island Pass  
Location Island Pass  
Amerada Pass  
Main Channel: Melanie Island  
The Joy Of Reaching The Gulf  
Camping On The Gulf At The End Of The River  
The Best Gulf Beaches  
Open Water Of The Gulf?  
Some Helpful Hints:  
Getting Back To Land  
Getting Back  
Upstream Paddling  
What Do You Do Now With Your Vessel?  
LiNKS = Leave No Kid On Shore  
Atchafalaya Basinkeeper  
Bayou Teche Experience  
Bayou Sara kayak Rental  
Pack & Paddle  
Services For Lower Mississippi River Paddlers  
Lower Mississippi And Ohio River Forecast  
Reading Google Maps  
Lower Mississippi River Mileage  
Towboat Protocol  
What To Pack:  
Atchafalaya Swamp Pack List:  
Primitive Camping In The Marshes & Swamps  
Biting Bugs  
Poison Ivy  
Can You Drink The Water?  
Where Do You Go? (To The Bathroom?)  
Water Quality  
The Atchafalaya Basinkeeper  
The Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper  
Environmental Reporting Phone Numbers:  
Maps And Mileage  
Louisiana Geological Survey Atchafalaya Basin Map  
Atchafalaya River Boat Ramps (Functional Jan 2016)  
River Gages  
Best Water Levels To Paddle To The Gulf  
What Do You Do Now With Your Vessel?  
LiNKS = Leave No Kid On Shore  
Left Bank And Right Bank  
Towboats And Buoys  
VHF Marine Radio  
Cajun Culture And The Atchafalaya Wilderness  
SOLA Coffee Companies  
How To Brew A Great-Tasting Pot Of River-Rat Coffee  
The Atchafalaya  
A Note On Mileage  
A Note On Pronunciation  
Where To Start Your Atchafalaya River Expedition  
Leaving The Mississippi River  
Mississippi River Maps And Mileage  
Three Inflow Openings At Old River  
Old River Control Structure: 3 Inflow Channels  
316.3 RBD Hydro Inflow Channel
313.7 RBD Knox Landing
311.7 RBD Auxiliary Intake — Old River Control Structure
316.3 RBD Hydro Intake — Old River Control Structure
Short History Of The Old River Control Structure  
314.6 RBD Main Intake — Old River Control Structure
313 LBD Buffalo River
Clark Creek Natural Area  
311.7 LBD Clark Creek
311.7 – 310 LBD Tunica Hills Below Clark Creek (Mississippi Loess Bluffs ##6)
311 – 309 RBD Point Breeze
310.2 LBD Wilkinson Creek
306 LBD Welcome To Louisiana!
306 – 294 LBD Angola State Penitentiary
306 LBD Angola Ferry
304.5 – 303 LBD Shreve’s Bar
306 – 302 Back Channel Of Shreve’s Bar
306 – 302 Main Channel Of Shreve’s Bar
303.8 Old River Lock And Dam: Entrance To The Atchafalaya River
Leaving The Mississippi Towards Lock & Dam  
The Atchafalaya River: Best Route To The Gulf  
How Does A Lock & Dam Work?  
Contact Lockmaster  
Safe Paddling Through A Lock & Dam  
Lock Signals  
Inside The Lock Chamber  
Order Of Locking Through  
Mileage Down Lower Old River Channel  
6.9 RBD Three Rivers Junction
Red River  
Three Rivers WMA And Red River NWR  
Atchafalaya – A Modern History  
Atchafalaya Lower
Atchafalaya River Basin Biotas  
A Lived-In Landscape  
Atchafalaya Mileage  
RBD = Right Bank Descending, LBD = Left Bank Descending  
Gas Pipelines  
Simmesport Gage (SG)  
Water Levels According To The Simmesport Gage  
Maps And Mileage  
USACE 2012 Atchafalaya River And Outlets To Gulf Of Mexico  
Louisiana Geological Survey Atchafalaya Basin Map  
0.1 LBD Three Rivers Landing
1.4 LBD Small Dune
1.9 RBD Coville Bayou
3.4 LBD Bayou Coteau
4.5 Simmesport KCS Railroad Bridge
4.6 LBD Simmesport Sand Dune
4.8 LBD Kuhlman Bayou
5.5 Simmesport River Park
Simmesport, Louisiana  
Canadaville, Louisana  
9 – 11 RBD Odenburg Island Dikes
12.5 LBD Marine Bayou
13 – 20 Atchafalaya Squiggles
13.2 RBD Porcupine Point
14.5 LBD Cypress Point
14.5 RBD  
14.7 RBD Small Dunes
15.5 Primitive Boat Ramp (Private)
16 RBD Eddy Dune
16.5 RBD Trash Site
17 – 18 RBD Hick’s Landing/Gordon Point
18 – 20 LBD Bayou Point
Borrow Pits And Blue Holes  
20.5 LBD Small Sandy Shelves
20 – 25 Bayou Current To Elba Landing
22 RBD Cell Tower
22.2 LBD Small Hump Of Sand
23.4 RBD Barberton Landing
25.1 RBD Elba Landing
26.1 RBD Small Bluff Of Sand
26.2 LBD Broad Sandy Shelf
26.3 RBD Old Channel Of Bayou Rouge
27.1 LBD Point Coupee/Bayou Latenache Pumping Station
27.1 Morganza Floodway – North End
28.1 Underwater Pipeline Crossings
28.2 Aerial Pipeline Crossing
29.6 Melville Union Pacific Railroad Bridge
29.7 RBD Melville Boat Ramp (Primitive)
29.8 LBD Melville Ferry Barge East Bank Landing
30 – 40 Melville To Krotz Springs
31 LBD Broad Bay
31.5 LBD Cross Bayou
31.7 LBD Open Field Cow Pasture
32.5 LBD Cross Bayou Point (Owl Hoot)
35.6 LBD Small Sandbar
36 – 37 RBD Sandy Landings
37.1 RBD Cell Tower
39.7 LBD Bayou Sherman Point
Atchafalaya Basin Pack List For Swampy/Marshy Camp Sites  
Switching To The KROTZ SPRINGS GAGE (KG)  
Water Levels According To The Krotz Springs Gage  
38.5 – 42.7 Krotz Springs Utility Crossings
39.3 Water Drainage Structure: Origins Of The Teche River
39.5 RBD Cell Tower
39.6 LBD High Sand Dune
40.3 RBD Gravel Landing
40.3 Wire Suspension Bridge For Pipeline
41 Krotz Springs US Hwy 190 And 71 (2 Bridges)
41.5 Krotz Springs Union Pacific Railroad Bridge
42.3 RBD Krotz Springs Boat Ramp
Krotz Springs History  
42.5 RBD Port Of Krotz Springs
Krotz Springs To The Split  
Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge  
44 Sherburne Bend
44.5 RBD Frank Diesl Point
44.9 LBD Small Sand Dune
46.1 RBD Bayou Big Graw Boat Ramp
49.3 RBD Bayou Courtableau
49.7 LBD Coswell Point
51 RBD Courtableau Point
54.2 LBD End Of The East Bank Levee
55 LBD Atchafalaya NWR Boat Ramp
55.1 Two Blue Holes
55.4 LBD Alabama Point
56.4 RBD Old Atchafalaya Point
56.4 The Atchafalaya Split
Whiskey Bay Pilot Channel  
59.8 I-10 The Atchafalaya Basin Bridge
60 RBD Sand Dune
60.5 Union Texas Petrochemical Aerial Crossing
61.7 LBD Bayou Des Glaises Boat Ramp (Primitive)
62.3 LBD Bayou Des Glaises
66.4 RBD Splice Lake
66.7 LBD Pat’s Throat
68 RBD Willow Point
68.5 LBD Blue Heron Point
70.9 LBD Upper Grand River
73.4 LBD Little Tensas Bayou
75.3 LBD Texaco Resources Dock
75.5 RBD Splice Island (Bottom End)
Primitive Camping In The Marshes & Swamps  
75.7 LBD Jake’s Bayou
75.8 Three Major Pipelines
76.4 LBD Lake Mongoulois Point
77.2 RBD Bayou Chene
79.9 Tarleton Bayou
81.2 LBD Bayou Sorrel
81.2 LBD Bayou Sorrell: Alternate Route Down The Atchafalaya
3 Days On Dean’s Route  
East Grand Lake  
82.4 LBD Bee Bayou
82 – 99 Chicot Pass
83 Pipeline Tailings
83.2 Philip’s Canal
85.7 RBD Danbury Management Corp Dock
86.2 RBD Canal Entrance
86.8 RBD Canal Entrance
88.1 RBD Canal Entrance
89.7 RBD Pipeline Canal
91.2 Texas Gas Transmission Co. 12″ Gas Pipeline
Attakapas Island Wildlife Management Area  
95.4 LBD Blue Hole
96.1 Texas Gas Transmission Co. 12″ Gas Pipeline
96.7 Old Pipeline Canal
97.3 Louisiana Intrastate Gas Corp 4″ Gas Pipeline
98.2 RBD Myette Point
Water Levels According To The Morgan City Gage  
Tidal Influence  
Estimate Your Camp Height  
100.2 LBD Blue Hole Landing
102 RBD Sixmile Lake: Access To Wax Lake Outlet
Wax Lake Outlet: Alternate Route To The Gulf  
Paradise Regained: The Wax Lake Delta  
103.8 LBD Narrow Bayou Leading To East Grand Lake
105 LBD Blue Point Chute: Shortcut To Cypress Wonderland
107.9 Exxon Gas Transmission Company 20″ Gas Pipeline
108.3 RBD Shortcut To Sixmile Lake
109 RBD Cypress Pass Back Channel
109.5 Duck Lake Channel
Duck Lake  
Many Rivers To Follow  
111.7 RBD Lower Atchafalaya River
111.7 RBD Riverside Pass
112.5 RBD Three Island Pass
113 RBD Little Island Pass
Main Channel Atchafalaya River  
115.1 American Pass
115.8 LBD Pipeline Canal To Dog Island Pass And Flat Lake
Flat Lake  
115.8 – 119.8 LBD Drew’s Island
117 RBD Stouts Point
119 Drew’s Pass
Dangers Of Paddling Through Morgan City  
Small Tows In Harbors  
Towboats Vs. Tugboats  
Stay Off The River In Fog  
Fleeted Barges  
Buoys And Other Hazardous Stationary Objects  
119 LBD Swiftships Boat Yard
119.5 RBD Bayou Teche (Berwick) Lock & Dam
119.5 RBD Bayou Teche Water Trail
121 Morgan City US Hwy 90 Bridge
121.2 LBD Morgan City Downtown Landing
Morgan City  
121.3 Morgan City Texas And New Orleans Railroad Bridge
121.4 RBD Berwick Public Boat Ramp
121.4 LBD Mr. Charlie: The International Petroleum Museum
Intro: Morgan City To The Gulf Of Mexico  
Maps Of The Atchafalaya Delta  
Best Water Levels To Paddle To The Gulf  
Morgan City Gage (MCG)  
Water Levels According To The Morgan City Gage  
Flood Stage Warning:  
Weather And Tides  
Check The Winds And Weather  
Tidal Influence:  
Estimate Your Camp Height  
121.5 LBD Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (East)
121.7 – 130.3 Bateman Island
Pipelines And Electrical Lines  
124.2 RBD Berwick Intracoastal Waterway Boat Launch
124.2 RBD Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (West)
124.5 RBD Gulf Intracoastal Waterway Point (South Side)
Atchafalaya Delta Navigation Channel Buoys  
126-127 LBD Outside Bend Highground
127.4 Bateman Island Point And Bend
127.5 – 128 RBD Cypress Forests
128 – 131 LBD Sweetbay Lake
131 LBD Access To Bayou Shaffer Via Sweetbay Lake
131 RBD Glass Island
Night-Time Sky In The Atchafalaya Delta  
131.8 – 132 LBD Stands Of Young Cypress Trees
134 RBD Sandy Willow Spit
134 LBD Avoca Island Cutoff
135-136 LBD New Dike Wall
135-138 LBD New Navigation Channel Around He Avoca Island Bend
136 – 137 Sandy Marsh Island
137.8 RBD Shell Island Pass
Gulf Route: Crossing Over To The Wax Lake Delta  
Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area  
138.5 LBD Low Lying Muddy/Sandy Beach With Willows
139.1 LBD Small Shell Beach
140 LBD Deer Island
140.5 RBD Breaux’s Pass
140.2 LBD Location Island Pass
142.2 LBD East Pass
144.2 RBD Amerada Pass
144.2 RBD Willow Island
144.3 LBD God’s Island
144.3 LBD God’s Island
144.8 RBD Log Island Pass
145.4 RBD Yvette Island
146 RBD Melanie Island
148.5 RBD Donna Island
150.5 RBD Eugene Island
151.5 LBD Bird Island East
Pount Au Fer/Raqet Pass  
Getting Back To Land  
Atchafalaya Delta WMA Campground  
Wax Lake Delta Passes  
Getting Back  
Upstream Paddling  
What Do You Do Now With Your Vessel?  
LiNKS = Leave No Kid On Shore  
Louisiana Delta 229 – 10 BATON ROUGE TO VENICE
Birdsfoot Delta 10 – 0 VENICE TO GULF OF MEXICO