The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Shelby Forest to Memphis

The channel winds and twists in a primarily northwesterly direction before rounding a gentle westerly curve tending southerly.  Several miles down the trees open up river left to expose nearby North Lake.  As the channel becomes southerly you will notice a lodge river right and some other dwellings and a single truss concrete bridge.  This is part of Brandywine Hunting Club.  WARNING: Low Bridge with possible portage 4.5 miles down Brandywine Chute.  Stop and scout to decide the best route.  At medium water strong flow under this bridge with possible driftwood blockage.  At high water there is possibly hazardous fast water flow.  I have zipped under this bridge with 3 feet of clearance wondering what it would be like with 2 feet, or 1 foot...  Well, you’d have to portage.  Scary thought.  To attempt passage with only one foot or two feet of clearance would result in certain capsize.  Unless you are absolutely sure of enough opening stop first and inspect!


Below the bridge the channel narrows and tumbles between some small islands over some sand/gravel shoals with quickening current.  This fast ride continues for another mile or so almost due south below the bridge before the bottom drops out (meaning the bottom of the channel) and widens, and the current slows and then seems to die completely, now running southeasterly.  Except at flood stage, this four mile section becomes a virtual flat water lake due to the deep and wide channel which includes the edges of an extensive flooded forest river left.  There is a parallel lake not far into the woods called South Lake which makes this an extensive wetlands area.  Enjoy the peaceful setting and the tranquility of the scenery, the birds, the fish, and the amphibians.  The water typically clears and becomes greenish and as result you might see the backs of the gar as they swim and feed, maybe a catfish, maybe others.  If a fish jumps out of the water, over your canoe, or into your canoe, it’s probably one of those Asian carp.


The flat water ends at mile 10.5 in a southerly turn with the entrance of a flowing opening LBD where a short cut back to the main channel enters river left and adds some water flow.  The last mile and a half of Brandywine are an enjoyable curvy channel dotted with small islands and good flow, and quickly you will be flushed back out into the main channel with a stunning downstream view over the face of the big river of the pyramid and downtown Memphis!  You might be surprised to see the city already, but don’t worry, you are still ten miles away from downtown.  Due to some cutoffs made 100 years after America’s Independence, the river here makes a long straight shot into the city, through aptly named Centennial Cutoff.


Main Channel: If you're staying main channel along Brandywine Island stay with the best flow along island in between buoy lines reds (river left) and greens (river right).  Fast water stays middle channel towards Shelby Forest, and then returns river right towards bottom of Brandywine Island.  See This line shows the fastest route main channel.  Adjust as necessary for tow traffic, wind, storms and water level!