The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

rbd 805-801 Island 25

Island 25 has been absorbed into the mainland around Tomato Arkansas.  Low water camping only on shifting sandbars that accumulate around the Is 25 Dikes.  Once you come around the Bend of Island 25 the downstream paddler is confronted with a numbing sixteen-mile long straight shot to the southwest, the result of several cutoffs and straightening of the river from the meandering bends once found here.  During low water, you must stay main channel.  But during high water you can dive into a series of meandering back channels and avoid the monotonies of the main channel completely.  


The below passage from Marion Bragg’s Historic Names and Places on the Lower Mississippi:


Island No. 25 was severely shaken by the earthquakes in 1811·1812. Flatboats often traveled in large groups for safety’s sake, and Captain John Davis was a pilot on a boat in one such group of boats. On December 15, 1811, the flatboatmen had tied their boats at Island No. 25 for the night. They were all rudely awakened at two o’clock the next morning, and found the earth in chaos around them. Captain Davis described the scene in part as follows:


In a few seconds the boats, island and mainland became perfectly convulsed, the trees twisted and lashed together, the earth in all quarters was sinking, and the water issued from the center of the 25th island just on our left, and came rushing down its side in torrents; and on our right there fell at once about 30 or 40 acres of land, some say 300 acres.


Captain Davis and his party completed their hazardous journey successfully, but not without some very anxious moments.


Paddler’s Options in the Island 30 – Osceola Area,-89.838982&spn=0.334047,0.359459


Paddlers enjoy a a multitude of options in the Ashport-Keyes-Gold Dust-Osceola area. Indeed, if you wanted, you could paddle through this entire section and not have to cross paths with a single towboat!   Main channel is a long straight shot 15 miles SW.  If you’re not hurried, turn into one of the below described back channel options for the sparkling delights of big trees, plentiful wildlife and possible encounters with local fishermen.  Lines on maps depict approximate best route.  Adjust as necessary for wind, weather, and water level.  Most back channels are closed until the river rises above 15 on the Caruthersville Gauge, with best flow at 25 and above.  


1) Main Channel:

The Main Channel is a 15 mile straight shot down to Osceola with some gentle meanders along the way.  Once you get around Island 25 follow the fastest water bank left halfway down towards Gold Dust, and then ease bank right for the long bend around Plum Point, with the Osceola Harbor RBD at the bottom of Island 30.  If the river is high and you want some relief from the main channel monotony, keep reading below for some of the options.  Some of these you can mix and match and still make decent downstream time.  Others you will have to choose and stick to it for many miles before you can return to the main channel (such as behind island 30).


2) Keyes Point Back Channel:

If the river is high (20 or above on the Caruthersville Gauge) paddlers can duck behind the topmost island at river left LBD 792 and hug the left bank all of the way around never-ending Plum Point and then behind Driver Island for a return to Main Channel.


3) Ashport-Gold Dust Archipelago:

Extensive sandbars at medium and low water levels extending from a long chain of willow-topped island.  At high water you can cut behind these islands through any number of openings, the first found at the base of Island 27.   Follow your paddler’s bliss into a half-mile channel with smooth boiling bubbling laminar flow over a series of dikes

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Middle Mississippi & Bluegrass Hills / Bootheel 195-0, 954-850 ST. LOUIS TO CARUTHERSVILLE
Chickasaw Bluffs 850 – 737 CARUTHERSVILLE TO MEMPHIS
Caruthersville to Osceola
850 – 737 LBD Options for Paddlers in the Caruthersville Stretch
Above Caruthersville  
Below Caruthersville  
850 RBD Caruthersville Harbor Boat Ramp (1/2 Mile Up Harbor)
849 RBD Mouth of the Carutherville Harbor
849 RBD Trinity Barge Fabrication Plant
847 RBD Blaker Towhead
846.5 Caruthersville
846 RBD Isle of Capri/Lady Luck Casino and Casino Inn Suites
845 – 840 LBD Caruthersville – Linwood Bend
850 RBD – 840 LBD Day Trip: Caruthersville to Booth’s Point
840 LBD Linwood Bend Boat Ramp
839 Caruthersville Bridge
Bridges and Mud: How Deep is the Mississippi Mud  
Several Routes Around Islands 18, 20 and 21  
838 – 835 LBD Island 18 Towhead
829 – 832 RBD Island 20 Dikes and Towhead
823 – 829 LBD Island 21
Routes for the Paddler Around Tamm/Barfield Bends  
820 – 815 RBD Wright’s Point – Tamm Bend
819.3 LBD Mouth of the Obion River
Moss Island WMA  
817.7 LBD Tamm’s Landing and Ed Jones Boat Ramp
817.7 – 801.8 LBD Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge
No Levee?  
814 LBD Nebraska Landing
815 – 805 LBD Barfield Bend
809.3 RBD Barfield Boat Ramp
806 RBD Tomato Arkansas
805 – 801 RBD Island 25
Paddler’s Options in the Island 30 – Osceola Area  
800 – 796.5 RBD Island 26 and Forked Deer Island 27
803 – 787 RBD Ashport-Keyes Gold Dust
796 – 791 RBD Ashport Gold Dust Dikes
797 LBD Shoaf Landing
797 LBD Lower Forked Deer River
796 LBD Ashport-Keyes Boat Ramp
793 – 785 RBD Island 30
796 LBD Ashport-Keyes Boat Ramp
Neark (Jacksonville) Landing  
786.5 LBD Back Channel Island 30
785 RBD Osceola Arkansas
783.5 RBD Sans Souci Boat Ramp
Osceola to Shelby Forest
785 RBD Osceola Arkansas
783.5 RBD Sans Souci Boat Ramp
782 LBD Driver Island
779.8 LBD Old Mouth of the Forked Deer
779 – 778 LBD First Chickasaw Bluff
Alternate Paddler’s Route Around Hatchie River & 2nd Chickasaw Bluff  
778 – 773 RBD Sunrise Towhead – Island 34
777 – 773.5 LBD Hatchie Towhead
773.5 LBD Mouth of the Hatchie River
773.5 LBD Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refugee
771 – 772 LBD Angelo Towhead
771 LBD Randolph Landing
771 – 769 LBD The Second Chickasaw Bluff (Richardson Bluff)
768.9 LBD Richardson’s Landing
768 LBD Randolph’s Landing/Duvall’s Boat Ramp
766 – 763 LBD Below Richardson’s Landing Dikes and Bar
Dyess Arkansas, Birthplace of Johnny Cash’s Five Feet High and Rising  
Five Feet High and Rising  
767.6 – 761.5 RBD Island 35
767 RBD Island 35 Boat Ramp
Back Channels of Island 35  
767.6 RBD Entrance
761.5 RBD Exit Behind Dean Isand
Memphis Gage  
Dikes and Water Levels  
Reading Google Maps  
761.5 – 757 RBD Dean Isand
761.5 – 757 RBD Back Channel of Dean Isand
Third Chickasaw Bluff  
758 – 754 LBD Denseford Bar and Dikes/Hen and Chicks
752.7 LBD Shelby Forest Boat Ramp
Shelby Forest to Memphis
Memphis Gage  
Dikes and Water Levels  
752.7 LBD Shelby Forest Boat Ramp
Hen & Chicks Round Trip  
754 – 745 LBD Meeman Shelby Forest State Park
754 – 747.5 RBD Back Channel of Brandywine Island
Buoys and Dikes  
Paddling Into Memphis: Three Distinct Routes  
749 – 742 LBD Hickman Bar
Picknicking and Camping on Hickman  
746 LBD Upper Hickman
745 LBD Middle Hickman
744 LBD Lower Hickman
743 LBD Below Lower Hickman
740.6 LBD Loosahatchie River
743.5 – 740 LBD Redman Point Bar
Memphis Upper Waswater Treatment Plant  
M.C. Stiles Waterwater Treatment Facility  
739 LBD Conoco Lucy-Woodstock Memphis Chemical Terminal Dock
740.6 LBD Wolf River
738.4 LBD Mud Island Upper Boat Ramp
740 – 737.5 Loosahatchie Bar
737.5 Ferry Crossing to Memphis From the Bottom of Loosahatchie Bar
737 Memphis “M” Bridge (Hernando De Soto Bridge)
736 LBD 4th Chickasaw Bluff: Memphis
736 LBD Memphis Mud Island Harbor
Mud Island Riverpark & Museum  
Memphis Yatch Club Marina & Boat Ramp  
Coast Guard Boat Ramp  
Memphis Conveniences Useful to Paddlers  
Several Challenging Round-trips From Memphis  
The Lossahatchie Redman Figure-Eight  
The Loosahatchie Roundtrip  
Hickman Bar Roundtrip  
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
Louisiana Delta 229 – 10 BATON ROUGE TO VENICE
Birdsfoot Delta 10 – 0 VENICE TO GULF OF MEXICO