The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail
803-787 Ashport-Keyes Gold Dust
Now comes the payback for all the fun river loops! After exiting the wonderful looping river bends of Tamm’s, Barfield, and Island 25, the river makes a dreadfully long run with no bends, all the way down to Plum Point/Osceola, and the downstream paddler is confronted with a mind and body numbing sixteen-mile long straight shot river run to the southwest. The channel can be a mile wide, even at low water, and up to two miles during high water. During low water, you must stay main channel. But during high water you can opt for one or more of the back channels found in this stretch.
The bad news for the paddler intent on making time is that you will just have to dig in and paddle with all the towboats down the main channel. Maybe you won’t have too many tows to contend with, and hopefully the wind won’t be in in your face. But If it is windy why not take a break? Find a couple of trees in a shady protected location and read a book. Seriously, if it’s going to be a day with SW wind 15-20 gusting to 30 mph you would do good finding a good protected bluff of sand somewhere along one of the many islands peppering this stretch, and enjoy a day of rest while the wind blows itself out. Otherwise, be prepared for big waves and endless wind. Many paddlers have pushed themselves to their limits on windy days with disastrous results. This stretch is notorious for creating a wind tunnel effect, maybe because of the nearby Chickasaw Bluffs. which are oriented in the same SW axis. The trees, the bluffs, and the open face of the river all combine to create a very challenging stretch in a SW wind.
The good news at low water is that the giant sandbars that emerge in this area force the river to and fro and create a meandering channel with fascinating landscapes of sand, gravel and mud, big trees washed ashore, piles of exotic driftwood, infinite possibilities for camping, castle-wall sized dikes thick with fossils and petrified mud, great swimming at the edges of the giant bars, and a wide spectrum of ever fluctuating blue holes carved deep into the muddy and sandy landscapes.
Great camping and picnicking is found throughout this section of river, paddle until you need a rest or it is approaching the time of day to make a camp, and head for the nearest bar. You will surely be rewarded with locations that anyone you share pictures with will swear is more similar to beach scenes from Mexico than the muddy Mississippi!
rbd 796-791 Ashport Gold Dust Dikes
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 and past clumps of forested bank sides and secluded sandbars and woody harbors.
LBD 797 Shoaf Landing
Primitive Gravel/Sand/Mud Landing at the mouth of the Lower Forked Deer. Good for paddlers who can easily lift canoes, kayaks or paddleboards up and over any muddy patches or other obstacles. Limited Parking.