The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

reverse when the Mississippi is falling and the Yazoo is high.  Be sure to note the direction of flow, since flow will be your primary guide through the old channels and backswamps.


Only a few hundred yards across at top bank, it’s hard to envision Paw Paw Chute as the once big & wide old channel of the Mississippi River.  And it’s also hard to recognize that Paw Paw Chute is the gateway to miles and miles of back channel and back swamp adventure!   After leaving the main channel the first two miles of the chute is a narrow entrenched channel gently curving to the northeast.  It is easily accessed at river stages above ten feet on the Vicksburg Gauge.  Below 10VG some dragging will be required to get around old logs embedded in the channel bottom.  At about the two-mile point, the channel widens and deepens.  To the north is a narrow channel between the willows (less than thirty feet wide) This is the old river bend channel (look close!).  At the lower stages this is impassable without portaging through thick mud (three feet or more deep!) for up to a half-mile.  The large channel to the East is actually an old mouth of the Yazoo River which, as we will see, leads to a series of backswamps and old river channels, and eventually to the Yazoo and its modern course to Vicksburg and back to the Mississippi.


Around Paw Paw to Forest Home Chute


Above the Old Mouth of the Yazoo Paw Paw is usually canoeable or kayakable at river stages at 10VG and above (but best explored at 20VG or higher).  Near or below this stage, the lower half mile is about 50 feet wide, widening out to about 200 ft, bordered by a high bottomland forested natural levee to the East, and a wide desiccated swamp to the west.  At moderate stages, it is an easy low current paddle “upstream”.  About one and a half miles above the old Yazoo, you’ll come to a private roadbed across the channel that is exposed and will require a few yard portage at river stages below 20 VG.  Above that and you can easily paddle across.  The road forms a dam, making the channel above wide open and navigable for some distance at all river stages.  About one and a half miles above the road there is a Y in the channel.  Paw Paw Chute is the left (southwest) branch, and continues another one to two miles, depending on stage, while the channel to your right is Forest Home Chute, another old river channel.    Forest Home continues another four to five miles (depending on stage), with two more road portages at low river. 


Wild sights you will enjoy exploring Paw Paw: large willows in the low areas, and mature bottomland hardwoods on higher elevations; this is a birdwatcher’s paradise.  A pair of eagles have nested in Forest Home for the past decade; their nest is not visible from the water, but you might see them flying over.  The extreme upstream portion of Forest Home narrows considerably, with a leafy canopy overhead.  Beaver, mink, muskrat, and otter are common aquatic mammals, and deer are abundant!  Bear have also been sighted.  This is a wild area with the tropical feel of an Amazon tributary!  Also watch for alligators.  The past several State Record alligators (>500 lbs) were taken near here, along with a 13 ft, >700 pounder now on display at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.  But don’t worry too much…leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone.

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Middle Mississippi & Bluegrass Hills / Bootheel 195-0, 954-850 ST. LOUIS TO CARUTHERSVILLE
Chickasaw Bluffs 850 – 737 CARUTHERSVILLE TO MEMPHIS
Upper Delta 737 – 663 MEMPHIS TO HELENA
Middle Delta 663 – 537 HELENA TO GREENVILLE
Greenville to Lake Providence
Greenville, Mississippi  
Greenville Accomodations and Restaurants  
Greenville Blues Festivals  
Greenville Boat Ramp  
Greenville Harbor  
537 LBD Warfield Point Park
537 LBD Old Warfield Point Boat Ramp
537 LBD New Warfield Point Boat Ramp
537 LBD New Warfield Point Boat Ramp
534 LBD Vaucluse Landing
531.5 RBD Sunny Side Landing
530.7 LBD Greenville Bridge
529 – 525.5 LBD Lakeport Towhead / American Bar
525 LBD American Cut-Off / Lake Lee
Lake Lee Public Boat Ramp  
Options for Paddlers Below Greenville Bridge Near American Bar and Lake Lee  
Lake Washington  
523 – 520 RBD Island 68
519 – 515 RBD Kentucky Bend
515 – 512 LBD Leota Bar / Cracraft Chute
514 – 512 RBD Worthington Cutoff, Matthews Bend, Grand Lake, Island 88
512 RBD (And Up Back Channel) Grand Lake Landing Boat Ramp
510 – 506 RBD Cracraft Bar
Paddler’s Choices Through Cracraft Chute & Sarah’s Cutoff  
Entering Louisiana  
503.5 RBD Bunch’s Cutoff
503 RBD Chute of Old River Lake
505 – 502 LBD Corregidor Bar
500 – 495 RBD Wilson Point Bar
496 LBD Tennis Court Landing
Vicksburg Gage  
Water Levels and Dikes  
494 – 487 LBD Baleshead / Stack Island / Ben Lamond
Two Stack Islands?  
Lake Providence  
Lake Providence Landings  
Paddler’s Choices in the Mayersville – Lake Providence Area  
487 – 481 LBD Shipland Wildlife Management Area
Lake Providence to Vicksburg
Vicksburg Gage  
Water Levels and Dikes  
Water Levels and Dikes  
Lake Providence  
Lake Providence Landing  
Paddler’s Choices in the Mayersville – Lake Providence Area  
487 – 481 LBD Shipland Wildlife Management Area
480 – 474 Fitler Bend
471 – 465 Arcadia Point Bar / Cottonwood Bar
Paddler’s Routes Arcadia Point Bar / Cottonwood Bar  
462 – 459 RBD Willow Island
461 LBD Chotard Lake Terrapin Neck Cutoff
Laney’s Landing  
459 LBD 2010 F-4 Tallulah – Yazoo Tornado
458.8 LBD Eagle Lake Pass
458 LBD Tara Landing
457 RBD Madison Parish Port and Public Boat Launch
Bluz Cruz Kayak and Canoe Race  
Willow Island, Chotard Lake, and Eagle Lake: Paddler’s Routes  
458 – 449 Milliken Bend
449 – 445 RBD Sparta Island
449 – 445 RBD Marshall Cutoff
446.5 LBD Paw Paw Chute
The “Heart of the Darkness” Tour  
Around Paw Paw to Forest Home Chute  
Paw Paw to Vicksburg Via the Yazoo  
Steele Bayou Control Structure  
What Are the Paw Paws  
Paw Paw Chute / Sparta / Brown’s Point: Paddler’s Routes  
445 – 442 Brown’s Point
444 Brown’s Point Fault Line
441 – 438.5 RBD Delta Point Bar
Habitat Restoration on the Lower Miss  
438 RBD King’s Point / Secret Entrance Into Lake Centennia
437.7 LBD Mouth of the Yazoo River
Vicksburg Services and Accommodations  
Vicksburg Services, Accommodations, and Restaurants  
Looking Downstream  
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