The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Below this island there is sometimes a scattering of scrubby willow islands, depending on river level.  If you are in the back channel it’s time to start thinking about returning to main channel for final approach into Memphis.  Keep with the flow as long as you can find any river left.  At some point you will see all of the flow pouring out back into main channel.  Unless you want to hug left bank slow water (and possible parked tows and industry near the mouth of the Looshatchie, go with the flow and head out into the faster water of main channel.  As always plan your route according to any visible towboat traffic.  Normally upstreamers in this area stay in the slower water LBD while downstreamers keep in the faster water RBD


As you come through Lower Hickman your imagination will be arrested by the sight of a shiny steel and glass Pyramid rising right off the face of the river like an Egyptian mirage flashback.  This is Memphis’ famous landmark, the Pyramid.  Downtown thickens the horizon.  This vision alone will reward you for any trails you have undertaken to get into the back channel and follow it this far.


LBD 740.6 Loosahatchie River

The mouth of the Loosahatchie is a seldom visited place by canoeists or kayakers, partially because it is hidden between long dikes extending hundreds of yards from the Tennessee shore and the busy activities of Fuller Dock and Warehousing which keeps a small fleet of towboats there for sand, gravel, asphalt and concrete operations.  For the downstream paddler it makes little sense to come anywhere near.  And yet adventuresome paddlers wanting to do some local exploring by canoe, kayak or SUP would be rewarded up the Loosahatchie with plentiful wildlife and little traffic. 


Warning: beware of very powerful eddy which forms around the point of the Loosahatchie River Dike at Low/Medium water levels.


When you reach the Loosahatchie River you will know you are sho-nuff arrived in the big city.  What a change of scenery: after all of the long miles of wild and woody wilderness above the city, you come around the last of the Hickman Islands and up to the Loosahatchie, and Wam-Bam!  Now there’s no mistaking urban civilization for all the bridges, skyscrapers, condos, oil tanks, docks, airplanes, jet planes — now visible or heard.  Or smelled.  If the wind is out of the south you’ll be getting your first whiffs of the Upper Wastewater Treatment Plant, as well as the burned-off fumes from the Valero and Conoco Refineries.


The humble Loosahatchie is one of the most overworked rivers in the history of the Mid-South, having suffered from channelization, dredging and other ravages along most of its length.  Flowing only 64 miles in a westerly direction from its birthplace in the flat tops of the Tennessee Hills, the cotton fields it once irrigated (and helped Memphis become the cotton broker for the world) were long ago replaced with suburbia and industry.  It is superseded in length and volume by its neighboring rivers the Hatchie and the Wolf.  The first eleven miles upstream of its confluence with the Mississippi are its most wild and forested, meandering through industrial bottoms, but well insulated from urban presence by a thick carpet of dense bottomland hardwood forest.  Desert cities like Phoenix and and plains cities like Denver need heavy-handed zoning to create green spaces.  In river cities like Memphis the river creates the green spaces.  Protect the river you protect the green space.  


Everyone knows the Mississippi River runs from the North to the South.  And yet holding a compass along any of its many bends and turns and passages you wonder just where does it actually do this?  The compass has shown you west, southwest, southeast, east, even northeast and northwest, and amazingly due north (in a few places).  But here along downtown Memphis it makes a run true to its name: after passing the Loosahatchie River, the entire Mississippi River takes a rare five mile run due south past the mouth of the Wolf River, Mud Island and right under the three steel trusses of the Arkansas & Memphis Bridge, where it is finally forced westward by the muddy escarpment of the South Memphis Bluff.

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Middle Mississippi & Bluegrass Hills / Bootheel 195-0, 954-850 ST. LOUIS TO CARUTHERSVILLE
Chickasaw Bluffs 850 – 737 CARUTHERSVILLE TO MEMPHIS
Caruthersville to Osceola
850 – 737 LBD Options for Paddlers in the Caruthersville Stretch
Above Caruthersville  
Below Caruthersville  
850 RBD Caruthersville Harbor Boat Ramp (1/2 Mile Up Harbor)
849 RBD Mouth of the Carutherville Harbor
849 RBD Trinity Barge Fabrication Plant
847 RBD Blaker Towhead
846.5 Caruthersville
846 RBD Isle of Capri/Lady Luck Casino and Casino Inn Suites
845 – 840 LBD Caruthersville – Linwood Bend
850 RBD – 840 LBD Day Trip: Caruthersville to Booth’s Point
840 LBD Linwood Bend Boat Ramp
839 Caruthersville Bridge
Bridges and Mud: How Deep is the Mississippi Mud  
Several Routes Around Islands 18, 20 and 21  
838 – 835 LBD Island 18 Towhead
829 – 832 RBD Island 20 Dikes and Towhead
823 – 829 LBD Island 21
Routes for the Paddler Around Tamm/Barfield Bends  
820 – 815 RBD Wright’s Point – Tamm Bend
819.3 LBD Mouth of the Obion River
Moss Island WMA  
817.7 LBD Tamm’s Landing and Ed Jones Boat Ramp
817.7 – 801.8 LBD Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge
No Levee?  
814 LBD Nebraska Landing
815 – 805 LBD Barfield Bend
809.3 RBD Barfield Boat Ramp
806 RBD Tomato Arkansas
805 – 801 RBD Island 25
Paddler’s Options in the Island 30 – Osceola Area  
800 – 796.5 RBD Island 26 and Forked Deer Island 27
803 – 787 RBD Ashport-Keyes Gold Dust
796 – 791 RBD Ashport Gold Dust Dikes
797 LBD Shoaf Landing
797 LBD Lower Forked Deer River
796 LBD Ashport-Keyes Boat Ramp
793 – 785 RBD Island 30
796 LBD Ashport-Keyes Boat Ramp
Neark (Jacksonville) Landing  
786.5 LBD Back Channel Island 30
785 RBD Osceola Arkansas
783.5 RBD Sans Souci Boat Ramp
Osceola to Shelby Forest
785 RBD Osceola Arkansas
783.5 RBD Sans Souci Boat Ramp
782 LBD Driver Island
779.8 LBD Old Mouth of the Forked Deer
779 – 778 LBD First Chickasaw Bluff
Alternate Paddler’s Route Around Hatchie River & 2nd Chickasaw Bluff  
778 – 773 RBD Sunrise Towhead – Island 34
777 – 773.5 LBD Hatchie Towhead
773.5 LBD Mouth of the Hatchie River
773.5 LBD Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refugee
771 – 772 LBD Angelo Towhead
771 LBD Randolph Landing
771 – 769 LBD The Second Chickasaw Bluff (Richardson Bluff)
768.9 LBD Richardson’s Landing
768 LBD Randolph’s Landing/Duvall’s Boat Ramp
766 – 763 LBD Below Richardson’s Landing Dikes and Bar
Dyess Arkansas, Birthplace of Johnny Cash’s Five Feet High and Rising  
Five Feet High and Rising  
767.6 – 761.5 RBD Island 35
767 RBD Island 35 Boat Ramp
Back Channels of Island 35  
767.6 RBD Entrance
761.5 RBD Exit Behind Dean Isand
Memphis Gage  
Dikes and Water Levels  
Reading Google Maps  
761.5 – 757 RBD Dean Isand
761.5 – 757 RBD Back Channel of Dean Isand
Third Chickasaw Bluff  
758 – 754 LBD Denseford Bar and Dikes/Hen and Chicks
752.7 LBD Shelby Forest Boat Ramp
Shelby Forest to Memphis
Memphis Gage  
Dikes and Water Levels  
752.7 LBD Shelby Forest Boat Ramp
Hen & Chicks Round Trip  
754 – 745 LBD Meeman Shelby Forest State Park
754 – 747.5 RBD Back Channel of Brandywine Island
Buoys and Dikes  
Paddling Into Memphis: Three Distinct Routes  
749 – 742 LBD Hickman Bar
Picknicking and Camping on Hickman  
746 LBD Upper Hickman
745 LBD Middle Hickman
744 LBD Lower Hickman
743 LBD Below Lower Hickman
740.6 LBD Loosahatchie River
743.5 – 740 LBD Redman Point Bar
Memphis Upper Waswater Treatment Plant  
M.C. Stiles Waterwater Treatment Facility  
739 LBD Conoco Lucy-Woodstock Memphis Chemical Terminal Dock
740.6 LBD Wolf River
738.4 LBD Mud Island Upper Boat Ramp
740 – 737.5 Loosahatchie Bar
737.5 Ferry Crossing to Memphis From the Bottom of Loosahatchie Bar
737 Memphis “M” Bridge (Hernando De Soto Bridge)
736 LBD 4th Chickasaw Bluff: Memphis
736 LBD Memphis Mud Island Harbor
Mud Island Riverpark & Museum  
Memphis Yatch Club Marina & Boat Ramp  
Coast Guard Boat Ramp  
Memphis Conveniences Useful to Paddlers  
Several Challenging Round-trips From Memphis  
The Lossahatchie Redman Figure-Eight  
The Loosahatchie Roundtrip  
Hickman Bar Roundtrip  
Upper Delta 737 – 663 MEMPHIS TO HELENA
Middle Delta 663 – 537 HELENA TO GREENVILLE
Loess Bluffs 437 – 225 VICKSBURG TO BATON ROUGE
Atchafalaya River 159 – 0 SIMMESPORT TO MORGAN CITY
Louisiana Delta 229 – 10 BATON ROUGE TO VENICE
Birdsfoot Delta 10 – 0 VENICE TO GULF OF MEXICO