The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail
They didn’t get this big by being aggressive or making themselves apparent! There are numerous back swamps and several small lakes accessible at higher river stages, and both Forest Home and Paw Paw connect to the river at their upper ends during the highest flood stages (not generally recommended). Camping note: This is all private land, without sandbars…plan on a full day exploration, so you’ll have enough time to return to the river to camp.
Paw Paw to Vicksburg via the Yazoo
OK, back to the Old Yazoo, which provides another route to Vicksburg (~13 miles) when passable. From its confluence with Paw Paw, the Old Yazoo runs due west ½ mile to a wall of trees, where it makes a 90 degree sharp bend to the North. This area is locally known as the Graveyard. When the Mississippi River rises and the Yazoo is low, the Mississippi flows into Paw Paw and through the Old Yazoo, piling river flotsam and jetsam into the Graveyard. Due to the isolation of the river to cities and towns of the Mississippi alluvial plain by levees, this consists primarily of logs (whole trees, actually) along with red and green channel markers. This and two other channel constrictions further along are (well, should be) easily passed at river stages >20 ft VG. From the Graveyard, as stated above, the channel turns abruptly to the North running straight for about 1.5 miles. At this point, it divides into 3 channels; the middle channel will take you straight into a large oxbow, while the other two get there eventually, but you’ll have to deal with trees, strainers, diminishing currents, and other backswamp obstacles. The oxbow seems to end in a wall of willows and a large log jam after about 1.5 miles of lentic paddling, but don’t be dismayed! If you look through the trees, you can see a body of water: the present day Yazoo River, with the Vicksburg Riverfront about 8 miles downstream. I have always managed to find a way through here (knock on wood), but there will be many twists and turns to reach the Yazoo…don’t worry about getting lost here…you’ll only be about 100 yards from the river, and you can see it.
Sights: See Paw Paw and Forest Home above. Also, acres of backswamps to explore if you have the time, and Lake Centennial (channel during the Civil War…small opening along the right bank as you approach the bluffs). Added bonus: an intimidating view of Gibraltar of the Mississippi River, as Grant and his army saw it from the river!
Steele Bayou Control Structure
Side trip: Once you hit the “new” Yazoo, a 1.5 mile paddle upstream will bring you to the mouth of Steele Bayou. Just upstream is the Steele Bayou backwater drainage structure. When water is being released through this structure, tens, if not hundreds of thousands of gar (spotted, long-nose, alligator) school in the currents…quite a sight to see!
What are Paw Paws?
Asimina Triloba (paw paw) is the largest edible fruit Native to the United States. It is frequently found growing along rivers and streams in 26 Eastern states (from North