The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail
Baton Rouge to New Orleans
Baton Rouge Gauge (BR)
Water levels according to the Baton Rouge Gauge (BR)
Low Water = 0 to 12 BR
Medium Water = 12 to 22 BR
High Water = 22 to 35 BR
Bank Full = 30 BR
Flood Stage = 35 BR and above
(BR = Baton Rouge Gage)
Flood Stage Warning: above 35BG 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 larger waves than usual. Freighters will have to push harder to get upstream which results in even bigger waves. The Rivergator will not describe the river and its islands at any levels above flood stage.
230 LBD Welcome to Baton Rouge: Downtown Riverfront
Easy walking to downtown Baton Rouge, but no road access. Possible resupply from here for water & food. Possible meet place.
Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, was founded on top of the 50-foot Istrouma Bluff on the east bank of the Mississippi River, the last of the Mississippi Loess Bluffs. This last bluff coincides with the edge of the Pleistocene Escarpment. Beyond this point there are no bluffs, and all of the land you see was created in the last 7,000 years by the annual flood and sediment accretion process.
The riverfront here is an easy and convenient way for paddlers to access downtown Baton Rouge on foot, but use common sense safety practices. Originally called “Istrouma” by the native people, Baton Rouge means “red stick” and refers to a pole adorned with animal carcasses placed on the high ground in Baton Rouge marking the dividing line between the tribal lands of the Houmas to the north and the Bayou Goula to the south. This marker is thought to actually have been located on Scott’s Bluff near the present location of Southern University (as previously described — go to that listing at LBD 235 in previous Rivergator section).
Once you maneuver past the tankers at ExxonMobil and downstream past Seariver Maritime, and then between fleeted barges at Capital Fleet, paddlers are welcomed to the capital city of Louisiana with the words BATON ROUGE in giant red lettering set on the riverfront seawall with a big red Fleur-de-Lis in between. We’re not certain who these words are written for, because this is not the place to make a landing, unless you’re just stopping for a quick run around downtown with no intentions of pulling out or camping. Not a good access point to meet your shuttle. (Long walk over railroad tracks to nearest parking). You could make a quick rendezvous here if you only needed to meet someone for a quick hand-off or change of crew. But you shouldn’t leave your vessel here unattended. (NOTE: your best land access is from Glass Beach Boat Ramp, downstream 1.5 miles RBD just past the I-10 bridge. See below for complete description).
Nearby over the seawall is found the Shaw Center for the Arts, Poor Boy Lloyd’s, The State Capitol, State Welcome Center, State Library, State Capital Park, the Old Governor’s Mansion, and the Old Louisiana State Capitol (that Mark Twain found so offensive he thought it should be dynamited!). WIFI can be found at the library, and most of the downtown cafes. For water resupply try your luck with the first friendly looking business you come across. The nearest grocery is Matherne’s Market at 440 N 3rd St on the corner of 3rd and Florida Blvd. Hardware and boat repair supplies as well as paddles, pfds, and camping gear are all available in Baton Rouge but will require traveling further from the river to at least the mid city area. See below for current list (2015).
Baton Rouge Sites and Services of interest to Paddlers
For shuttles, resupplies, parking your vehicle, and logistics on the Lower Mississippi River, contact Baton Rouge natives Paul or Michael Orr. The Orr brothers have been providing support services for decades on the Lower Mississippi River, and are the experts on the stretch downstream from Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico.
Paul Orr <email@example.com> (225) 300-3902
Michael Orr <firstname.lastname@example.org> (225) 803-2999
Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper:
The Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper (LMRK) is a non-profit organization in Louisiana that works to identify and reduce pollution into the lower Mississippi River. They might be available to help paddlers with resupply, shuttling, and help with any logistics. Contact them anytime to report a concern, or if you have questions or need help in addressing a problem you see along the river. Contact LMRK through their website, lmrk.org, email email@example.com or call (225) 928-1315.
Paddles, PFDs and Camping Gear:
7656 Jefferson Hwy
Baton Rouge, LA
Massey’s Professional Outfitters
at the Northgates of LSU
3340 Highland Rd
Baton Rouge, LA 70802