The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Shelby Forest to Memphis

LBD 752.7 Shelby Forest Boat Ramp

Concrete revetment ramp that bottoms out in layers of thick mud at low water (but fortunately serviced by State Park Maintenance).  Serviceable at all water levels up to flood stage.  Huge parking area.  Often used by towboats for crew changes.  Excellent start place for a day trip downstream to Memphis or for an upstream round trip through the Densford Bar/ Hen and Chicks archipelago.

 

Hen & Chicks Round Trip

10 mile round trip from Shelby Forest Boat Ramp

 

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Ten mile round trip from Shelby Forest Boat Ramp makes for an incredibly beautiful up and down paddle with no shuttle needed.  This is extremely challenging during high water, a little less so during medium water.  It is not possible in low water, although a simple run around the biggest island, the hen, would be possible at low water (down to around 5MG).  Hug bank upstream from Boat Ramp and dive behind Hen, for longest possible run stay right all of the way behind all of the islands possible, when there are no more islands in view upstream, turn around and enjoy the relatively easier downstream ride return back to the same ramp via as many islands as you want to weave around.  There are lots of small bars along the way for stopping and stretching your legs and picnicking.

 

LBD 754-745 Meeman Shelby Forest State Park

Meeman Shelby Forest State Park straddles the Third Chickasaw Bluff thirteen miles north of Memphis, with nine miles of big river frontage and some of the best examples of the dense temperate jungles that once crowded the Lower Mississippi Valley.   The downstream paddler enters the park at the bottom end of the Hen (Densford Bar) and doesn’t exit until the top of Hickman Bar (LBD 745).

 

Two-thirds of the 13,467-acre Meeman Shelby Forest State Park are bottomland hardwood forests of large oak, cypress, tupelo, sweetgum, sycamore and cottonwood. There are two lakes and many miles of hiking trails as well as one of the largest disc-golf courses in the Southeast.  Campgrounds and rustic cabins are found on top of the bluff but are miles away from the river, and as such probably not of interest to long distance paddlers. 

 

Deer, turkey, beaver, fox, otter and bobcat are plentiful. Over 200 species of songbirds, waterfowl, shorebirds, and birds of prey, including the American Bald Eagle can be seen.  The area is a favorite for bird watchers, bicyclers and hikers.  The Meeman Museum and Nature Center is named for Edward J. Meeman, courageous conservation editor of Scripps-Howard newspapers who helped establish this park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The park maintains the Shelby Forest Boat Ramp LBD 752.7.