The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail
Alternate Paddler’s Routes around Hatchie River & 2nd Chickasaw Bluff:
1) Sunrise Towhead/Island 34
2) Secret Shortcut to Hatchie River
3) Secret Channel at base of 2nd Chickasaw Bluff
Go to Google Maps for details:
There are several choices for paddling routes around the mouth of the Hatchie River and the 2nd Chickasaw Bluff, including the beautiful back channel of Sunrise Towhead, but they all depend on water level. See below for details.
RBD 778-773 Sunrise Towhead – Island 34
Giant privately-owned island whose top end begins almost directly opposite the base of the First Chickasaw Bluff. At low water possible campsites emerge from the muddy sandy lowlands near RBD 777-778, these quickly disappear as the river rises. By medium water there will be a noticeable flow into its back channel. Paddlers can enjoy a scenic back channel experience without obstruction at medium water (15 foot Caruthersville Gauge) or above. At high water (above 25 feet) you can add on several more miles of backwater exploration by going far right around a small island mid-channel 2 miles down the Chute of Sunrise Towhead and include the back channel of Island 34 in your foray, but be prepared for possible dangerous strainer and/or necessary portage over the low bridge crossing 2 miles down Island 34. Stop and Scout before running any questionable water hazard. Sunrise Towhead Back Channel returns you to the river opposite the mouth of the Hatchie River, you will have paddled approximately 7 miles for 5 miles of main channel distance. If you opt for going behind Island 34 you will need to paddle an additional 5 miles before making a return, but stay RBD as long as you can and you will rejoin the main channel opposite the towering heights of the 2nd Chickasaw Bluff.
LBD 777-773.5 Hatchie Towhead
3 mile long towhead good only in low or medium water conditions, goes completely under around 25 CuG. During low water the Hatchie Towhead extends all the way up to the base of the 1st Chickasaw Bluff and can be possibly accessed via Tennessee 87, which dead ends at the river here. Popular fishing spot at low water. Several years ago, in the late 2010s, a coal barge wrecked against along the shoals of the 1st Chickasaw Bluff and discharged its cargo which washed up on every sandbar and towhead downstream, most prominently at the top end of the Hatchie Bar.
During high water delightful secret channel opens up at the rear of Hatchie Bar. Paddlers can access the last mile of the Hatchie River through this hidden channel which cuts directly into the woods river left near LBD mile 775. The river must be around 30 Caruthersville (or 25 Memphis). Follow this narrow channel approximately half mile through willow/cottonwood forests into Hatchie NWR and then into the main channel of the Hatchie itself. Bear right and follow the Hatchie one mile down to its confluence with the Mississippi.