The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Even within the shadow of its blues-tourism drenched neighbor, Clarksdale, there are many reasons to walk over the levee for a quick visit.  Friars Point was the Childhood home of Conway Twitty and Aretha Franklin’s Daddy, The Rev. C.L. Franklin. The postal packet the Kate Adams made regular landings here enroute Arkansas City and Memphis.  Muddy Waters reported seeing Robert Johnson perform in front of Hirsberg Grocery.  The bench that Robert Johnson performed on still sits in front of the grocery, now painted fire-engine red.  Friars Point was the original ferry landing for access to Helena.  All blues musicians in the area passed through to get to Helena’s influential King Biscuit Time radio program.  If you stop, be sure to visit the North Delta Museum and Icehouse Antiques.  Paddlers can find a limited selection of groceries at a couple of markets, one of which has noteworthy take-out lunches quick fried on a gigantic iron wok.  Friars Point also has a liquor store and a post office.


LBD 652.5 Friars Point Landing (unimproved)

Several hundred yards below the McAlister Grain/Mississippi Limestone complex (you will see a line of shiny stainless steel grain elevators and piles of gravel and anchored tows) you can find a serviceable landing with access to Friars Point.  Unimproved location.  Primitive landing on muddy banks topped with sandy/muddy flats.  Not recommended camping.  Hide your vessel above or below and carry all valuables if you leave landing to visit Friars Point.  At low water steep muddy banks with gooey muddy bottoms.  At high water landing becomes submerged around HG 35, but paddlers can simply pull in wherever a good spot is found along the levee.


652-650 LBD FRIARS POINT island

[CLICK HERE: Map of Friar’s Point Island]

Immediately downstream of the primitive Friars Point Landing mile 652.5 is a narrow opening tight against the Mississippi shoreline that at any water levels above 20 HG offers glimpses into the wild world of the ancient Mississippi, where steep muddy banks and vine-draped trees prevail.  Follow the river downstream along the shoreline over several short old-style wood pier dikes.  Note: if you can see the dikes protruding above the river’s surface you won’t be able to paddle this back channel, angle outwards along the Friars Point Bar and re-enter the main channel below.  If you can’t see the dikes the back channel should be open.  Go for it: it’s well-worth the extra effort.  Below the third such short dike is a big eddy below which you will see water sluicing in to the left of a willow-topped island.  Follow it in and paddle as quietly as you can if you want to see any wildlife.  The beaver love this back channel, typically positioning themselves on little muddy perches or shelves formed by the muddy banks.  Best time to see beaver: first thing in the morning or late in day.  On cold winter days they might be caught sunbathing on a pile of driftwood, and in warmer days they might all be hiding within their dens.  Oftentimes they leap out of their muddy burrows as you pass.  You might notice a blur of fur and see the splash.  Unless you’re watching carefully and listening you won’t see anything at all.  [CLICK HERE: for how to paddle quietly — or two ways to paddle].  There are two places where the back channel crosses dikes, now submerged, you might see some boiling action.  Otherwise this channel is an enjoyable meandering waterway that might put you in mind of some remote tributary on the Amazon or the Congo.  Pileated woodpeckers are common, and during the annual spring migration, the many brightly colored songbirds fill the forests with their crystalline melodies.  This is a good place to relax a moment from the rigors of the main channel, you could even take a nap it is normally so peaceful & gentle.  After a mile or more, the southwesterly back channel curves ever more westward along lines of mature willow trees, and then a striking wall of tall & stately willows are seen with the glorious light of the open channel behind, the main river is a mile wide here so it feels like you’re headed towards a gate leading into the open ocean or something.  Unless it’s blocked with driftwood & debris, paddle on through and re-enter the big river to sail downstream towards Miller Point.  If the gateway is blocked with logs, you’ll find an opening on one side or the other.  I’ve never seen it completely occluded.  Worse case scenario, pull up to one side and push your vessel or portage over.


[Click Here: Beavers]


Beavers on the Lower Mississippi River 

The beavers of the Lower Miss usually don’t bother building beaver dams and beaver lodges.  Why not?  It must be a specialized adaptation unique to the floodplain of the big river.  They don’t build lodges because the next high water will probably wash them away.  With a river that annually fluctuates 50 vertical feet you can imagine the difficulties of keeping your home made of sticks in one place.  Instead they dig holes on steep muddy banks, oftentimes underneath a root ball or fallen tree, or some other natural obstruction.  They don’t build dams because they don’t have to.  There is always enough deep water for the beaver to get to the next stand of willow for the overnight feast.  As you paddle along look closely and you will be astounded length and depth of the floodplain willow forests, sometimes miles and miles of willows, walls of willows so long and so deep you feel like you are a visitor in a fragrant green canyon of lush willows.  Everything about the willow is beautiful, and in all seasons it fills the air with refreshing aromas.  Look closer and you will see the lines of sharpened willow stakes where once stood lines of trees.  The beavers cut the willow tree down with their sharp two dagger-like teeth, and then drag then willow trunk to the water’s edge.  Water is their safety.  If any predator approaches they can make a quick exit by silently sliding into the river.  I’ve never seen a beaver eating except at the water’s edge.  Here they hold the willow with their two paws, rotating it as they rip off mouthfuls of cambium, smacking loudly as they do so, and deftly clip away small branches and any unwanted parts.  Beavers are nocturnal, so most likely you will hear them chewing their sticks after dark, it sounds like someone chewing loudly on an ear of corn-on-the-cob.  Or you might be startled to hear a loud splash! as you lay in your sleeping bag.  Don’t be alarmed (like I was the first time I heard this sound).  It’s not someone terrorizing your campsite.  The beaver is making himself known, establishing territory, and hoping you will leave so he can enjoy his personal beach minus your uninvited company!  Usually they settle down and assimilate themselves to your presence, or move elsewhere.  Periodically, however, they maintain an all night show of loud slaps in your vicinity. Beaver are known to sample other woods, they might try a bite of your canoe if it was made of untreated & unprotected wood.  If no willow is to be had, cottonwood is second best.

Leave A Comment

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