The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

LBD 656 East Montezuma Bar

A shaggy mile-long Island with a large back channel that can be run above 20HG.  Notoriously turbulent waters are found boiling along its top end main channel, and all along its long dike which connects to the Mississippi shore, novice paddlers should avoid crossing this dike until the water is higher than 25HG.


657-654 RBD Montezuma Towhead

A three-mile long island at low water, one mile-long at medium, no sand at 35HG, goes completely under at flood stage 44HG.  Montezuma Towhead was created when an unfortunate steamboat by the same name The Montezuma happened upon a snag in this section of river and sank on Feb 28, 1829.  Snags were not uncommon back then, steamboat pilots avoided them like the plague, as is well narrated in Mark Twain’s 1883 Life on the Mississippi.  Less well-known are the towheads, islands, bars and other important river features that have been wrought out of these wreckages as they lay on the bottom of the river and create conditions that lead to sediment accumulation on their downstream side out of the vast oceans of sediment that are always there in motion.  The emergence of Montezuma Towhead forced the entire Mississippi River eastward one mile and the ill-fated town of Delta, Mississippi, was consumed by collapsing banks.  Delta was neck-and-neck with Friars Point as the leading town of Coahoma County.  Its promising future cut short by the sinking of a steamboat and the insatiable appetite of the river.  Friars Point didn’t enjoy its glory days long as victor in this race for prominence, its place on the river left high & dry by the opposite big river tendancy: to create land.   Keep reading below for the rest of the story.


654.7 LBD Montezuma Landing

Possible shuttle access to Clarksdale via Highway 1 and the Friars Point Road (17.5 miles).  Note: If you want to access Friars Point for resupply or visit continue downstream two miles to Friars Point Landing.


The riverbank LBD along Montezuma Bend undulates in and out of several small harbors, the last and largest of these at mile 653 is Montezuma Landing.  Also known as Delta Landing (for the town of Delta which was eaten by the river in the mid nineteenth century — see above).  At the north end of this open-mouthed harbor you will find a steep & narrow concrete ramp which is usable at low, medium and high waters up to 37HG when the parking lot and landing becomes submerged.  As always, paddlers can enter and exit the river wherever the road ends (and the water begins) at higher water levels, if necessary right off the levee.  Below 10HG the end of the concrete ramp steepens considerably and much caution is required when backing down.  This ramp ends completely around 0HG, which can be troublesome to powerboats on trailers, but only means a short portage for any paddlers.  Below the end of the ramp you will encounter piles of rip rap which fall off steeply into the dark depths of the eddy.  Drivers: if you back down this ramp at any levels, be sure to set your emergency brake and chock your tires with rocks from the adjacent rip-rap!   At medium and low water levels and small sand dune forms at the souther edge of the landing, piles of sand pushed up by the swirling waters of a giant eddy which is found here.  Use the eddy to your advantage entering or exiting Montezuma Landing.  Possible emergency campsite, with good protection from south or southeasterly winds, but also accessible to motorized vehicles and sometimes a popular picnic and party place. 


Shuttle Route Montezuma to Clarksdale:

[CLICK HERE: Map of Shuttle Route Montezuma to Clarksdale]


652 LBD Friars Point

[CLICK HERE: Map of River Access Close to Friar’s Point]

Friars Point was once the major population center and seat of Coahoma County.  Friars Point was located right on the river, the downtown a levee landing where cotton was loaded onto steamboats, and gamblers might be seen strolling the streets looking for the next unwary victim.  Clarksdale at the time was just a distant dream of a frontier woodcutter named John Clark.  The unpredictable Mississippi ate the entire length of First Street one year.  No problem, the resourceful citizens simply moved commerce back to Second Street and it became center of activity for its business district.  Many a good story came from any puzzled visitor inspecting the signage and wondering why there wasn’t any First Street and why Second Street was the center of activity. 


But the big river got the last laugh when it decided to migrate westward and instead of commanding a good steamboat landing Friars Point was left with nothing but sandbars & mudbars, its downtown approachable only in high water.  The river might as well have banished Friars Point to the middle of the Gobi Desert so dislocated it now found itself.  When the railroad tracks of the Illinois Central Railroad were laid through Clarksdale, Friars Point rescinded its prominence as County Seat, and then lost the newspaper and major banks.


Still, the town is easily accessed at mile 652.5 by anyone paddling through the area using an unimproved & very primitive landing at the edge of town, directly below the Mississippi Limestone/ADM complex.  There is an obvious open sandbar below all of the graineries and piles of gravel and docking facilities.  The Yazoo-Mississippi Levee Board has made repeated attempts to improve the landing, but every high water the river re-takes command.  Make your landing there for access to Friars Point, and also to get to Clarksdale.  Paddlers, be sure to hide your vessel well, and remove any items of value.  If you need to get to Clarksdale your best bet is to bring your canoe or kayak and all your gear with you.  Remember, the unwritten rule of the river rat is if it’s not locked it’s fair game. You can camp here if necessary, but beware midnight visitors.  Better option: visit town and then push off to camp further downstream.

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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
St. Francis to Helena
652.5 LBD Friars Point Landing (Unimproved)
652 – 650 LBD Friars Point Island
671 – 673 LBD St. Francis Bar
670 LBD St. Francis Dikes
669 LBD Flower Lake Dikes
668 RBD (A View Of) Crowley’s Ridge
668 – 663 RBD Buck Island (Prairie Point Towhead)
665.5 LBD Trotter’s Pass
663 RBD Helena Harbor
Helena Boat Ramps  
663 RBD Helena-West Helena
Quapaw Canoe Company – Helena Outpost  
661 Helena Bridge (Hernando De Soto Bridge – US HWY 49)
657 Yazoo Pass
Helena to Island 63
663 LBD Leaving Helena Harbor
Fleeted Barges  
Small Towns in Harbors  
Buoys and Other Stationary Objects  
Highlights of Civilizations  
Wild Miles  
Pollution Within the Helena Industrial Reach  
661.6 Helena Bridge (Hernando De Soto Bridge – US HWY 49)
657 LBD Yazoo Pass
How to Get Into the Old Entrance of the Yazoo Pass  
LBD Alternate Route to Vicksburg: Yazoo Pass
Yazoo Pass Mileage  
Rivers & Robert Johnson  
656 LBD East Motezuma Bar
657 – 654 RBD Montezuma Towhead
654.7 LBD Montezuma Landing
Shuttle Route Montezuma to Clarksdale  
652 LBD Friars Point
652.5 LBD Friars Point Landing (Unimproved)
652 – 650 LBD Friars Point Island
Beavers on the Lower Mississippi River  
652.2 RBD Kangaroo Point
648 LBD Horseshoe
646 – 649 RBD Dewberry Island 61
646 – 642 Old Town Bend
641 – 635 LBD Island 62
640.5 – 637 LBD Island 63
640.5 LBD Entrance to Top End of Island 63 Chute
637.5 LBD Entrance Into Bottom End of Island 63 Chute
637 LBD Back Channel Island 63
Quapaw Landing  
Island 63 to Hurricane
Muddy Waters Wilderness  
637 LBD Back Channel Island 63
Quapaw Landing  
Old Levee at Quapaw  
Levee Break Below Quapaw Landing  
Great Flood of 2011  
637.5 LBD Island 63 Chute
636 LBD Burke’s Point
The Flanking Maneuver  
634 RBD Modoc Old River Lake
632 LBD Robson Towhead
632.5 RBD Fair Landing
Jackson Cutoff  
Sunflower Cutoff  
625.6 RBD Mouth of the Mellwood Lake
624 – 627 LBD Sunflower Dikes
Diving Duck  
624.5 LBD Mouth of De Soto Lake
621 – 624 LBD Jug Harris Towhead
620.8 RBD Mouth of the Chute of Island 68
619 – 621 LBD Island 68
619 – 621 LBD Island 67
619.6 BD Wood Cottage
620 – 617 RBD Old Levee at Knowlton
616 LBD Knowlton Crevasse
619 – 609 RBD Island 69
615.5 RBD Island 69 Old Back Channel
616 – 614 LBD Cession’s Towhead
610 LBD Hurricane Pint (Dennis Landing)
Hurricane to Rosedale
605 – 610 LBD Island 70
The River Mirage Effect  
604 – 601 LBD Henrico Sandbar
603 – 597 Scrubgrass Bend
601.5 – 598 LBD Smith Point Sandbar
600.5 LBD Entrance
598 LBD Exit
Secret Channel Behind Smith Point Sandbar  
599 RBD Mouth of the White River
The White River  
Montgomery Point Lock & Dam  
At the Mouth of the White River  
How Does a Lock Work?  
Arkansas River: Little Rock, Fort Smith, Tulsa  
White River National Wildlife Refuge  
597.5 – 580 RBD Big Island
596 – 594 Victoria Bend
592.1 LBD Terrence Landing
597.5 RBD Entrance
591 LBD Exit
RBD Near Mile 3 of the Old Channel of the White  
Wreck of the Victor?  
Old Channel of the White  
Arkansas City Gage (AG)  
591 – 587 LBD Great River Road State Park
587 – 584.5 LBD Malone Field (Barge Fleeting Area)
594.5 LBD Mouth of the Rosedale Harbor
Rosedale Harbor  
Rosedale, Mississippi  
Rosedale to Arkansas City
Arkansas City Gage  
585 – 580 RBD Arkansas Bar
580 RBD Arkansas River
Paddling Past the Mouth of the Arkansas  
A Detour Up & Down the Arkansas  
Island Hopping  
The Floating Sensation  
Circumnavigation of the Big Island (52 Miles; 5-7 Days)  
Below the Arkansas Confluence  
581 – 576 LBD Prentiss Sandbar
578.4 RBD Napoleon Light
574.5 LBD Mouth of Lake Whittington
575.8 RBD Caulk Eddy
575 – 572.5 RBD Caulk Neck Bar
576 – 572 Caulk Neck Cutoff
572 – 567 Cypress Bend
Cypress Bend – Pallid Sturgeon  
571 – 567 Catfish Point Bar
568 RBD Chicot Landing
Reading Google Maps  
Approaching Choctaw Island  
Choctaw Island Geomorphology  
564 – 558 Chocktaw Bar Island
Note on Low-Water Camping  
Arkansas City Boat Ramp  
561.7 LBD Easton Landing – Mounds Boat Ramp
560.5 LBD Mounds Landing
Addendum: Take-Out in Greenville or Lake Village  
Best Campsites Along the Lower Mississippi Water Trail  
End of Trail  
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