The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail
LBD 797 Lower Forked Deer River
For an close-up view of the woods, wildlife, and agricultural fields of Western Tennessee paddle 4.5 miles up the Lower Forked Deer into Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge. Only possible above 10 CuG. Be ready for blockages, fallen trees, beaver dams, and other obstacles. Watch for snakes in trees and jumping Asian Carp! 9 miles round trip. If it’s too overgrown, too rough, or too low to make progress, paddle as far as you feel like, then turn around. Your time won’t be wasted for all of the wildlife and interesting vegetation you will see.
LBD 796 Ashport-Keyes Boat Ramp
Well built concrete ramp good at all water levels and year-round access from paved road (Tennessee 19) in between Ashport and Gold Dust. 16 miles east on TN 19 to reach Ripley, home of the famous Ripley tomato.
rbd 793-785 Island 30
WARNING: There are two significant falls at low/medium waters, one at top end and one at bottom end of Island 30. See below for more description.
Island 30 creates an intriguing back door entrance to Osceola. If the water is high enough (above 25 on the Caruthersville Gauge) and you want to make an Osceola landing, or even if you just want more back channel exploration, you can enter the back channel of Island 30 for a wonderful tree-lined meandering eight mile paddle. Highly recommended (if the water is high enough). If Osceola is your destination, riding the back channel makes things easier: you won’t have to paddle back upstream against the current of the Osceola Harbor to reach the landing!
To get into the back channel of Island No 30 you will first have to get behind the Ashport Gold Dust Dikes, as described above. It’s best to enter at the very top end, from the base of Island 27 near Daniel’s Point Landing RBD 796.5. Stay hard bank right several miles and then follow the opening near 793 over a sometimes turbulent falls (a submerged dike). There are tall trees on either bank and it feels like you are passing through the gates into a magical kingdom. Warning: turbulent waters sometimes found at top entrance to Island 30 Back Channel. Most water flows through tongue center stream. This can be a significant falls around 20-25 CuG, so scout first and make sure you are capable of safely handling. At 30 most of the drop has been submerged and you will only see turbulence and powerful boils and eddies. Once you get through there are no more dikes until the final miles (1.5 miles – see warning below).
You might encounter a fisherman or two, but others otherwise it will be nothing but you, the bottomland hardwood forests, the wildlife along the bank, and the birds in the air — a welcome change from the sometimes sterile monotony of the main channel! This back channel flows along for miles and miles — eight miles in all. The Arkansas levee closes in eventually, and you will pass by a primitive muddy landing with a good concrete ramp near the town of Luxora. If you need to resupply keep going, Osceola will be your best stop. Near flood stage other side channels off the back channel will open up. Follow at your own discretion. You might hear highway traffic after Luxora. This is the legendary blues Highway 61 now close by the river and found just over the levee. Highway 61 runs north to south like the great river herself, out of the North woods right down to the Gulf of Mexico (ending in New Orleans).