Shelby Forest to Memphis
Big Trees: Take a short walk into the dense forests for a close-up view of some of the biggest cottonwoods and sycamores you’ll see in the entire Lower Mississippi Valley. From the Shelby Forest Boat Ramp paddle your canoe or kayak several hundred yards downstream and make landing at one of the eddy-alcoves river left (You can also walk from the boat ramp parking lot, but it’s more exciting to paddle!) Just over the riverbank and due east into the park you will cross a low place, and then find the land rising in elevation. The big trees like the slight rise off the river floodplain. soon Bring your camera and watch for poison ivy, which abounds alongside other vines crowding the undergrowth.
Bygone Swim Race: In the 1930s a Memphis businessman hosted a series of swim races for Memphis youth from Shelby Forest down to Memphis! What a swim race... 17 miles on the main channel of the Mississippi River. This would be unthinkable in our modern age of self-preservation and irrational fears of the outdoors.
Shuttling Considerations: By the way, if you’re planning a day trip from Shelby Forest, and shuttling vehicles, leave your pickup vehicle at either 1) the public boat launch at the top end of Mud Island, 2) the Memphis Yacht Club at the Mud Island Riverpark (get permission and pay their fee), or 3) at the public use Coast Guard Boat Launch in the Mud Island Harbor.
Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park
910 Riddick Road
Millington , TN 38053
RBD 754-747.5 Back Channel of Brandywine Island
The top end of Brandywine opens up like a yawning great blue heron, but instead of big fish its mouth is cluttered by a series of dikes (Corona Bar Dikes) and a ragged cluster of hardwood islands. Well worth the diversion if you have the time for another long back channel exploration with a possible portage over a low bridge halfway down it length.
There are 13 miles in back channel and 6.5 miles in main channel. Twice the distance and probably three times the duress (and certainly four times the experience!) After leaving Dean Island on the main channel stay river right and look for the obvious openings between the stubby islands at RBD 754, and enter in between any of them. As always you can count on good water if there is any flow going in. But know beforehand that Brandywine is one of those rare Chutes that loses all flow in its last four miles (due to deepening and widening), to regain some partial flow in its last two miles with the entrance of a separate lower back channel.