The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

RBD 652.2 Kangaroo Point

Contrary to common river-sense, the river speed noticeably quickens during low water as it approaches Kangaroo Point.  Upstream Tows sometimes seem to stand still as they fight their way up, while their downstream counterparts easily fly by.  If you are sharing this narrow sluiceway at low water with any upstream tows big rolling waves will surely be erupting in the tow’s outwash and creating a river of standing waves on top of a river.  If you can handle big waves and water you’re in for a roller coaster ride.  If not, find an bank-side obstruction and eddy out and await the tow’s passage.  The large eddies found continually along the edges of the Lower Mississippi River create the perfect place for this maneuver.  It’s safe and easy to execute.  The water within these eddies is surprisingly deep (sometimes fifty feet or more) and so any big waves do not get bigger here, as they would near the shore.  However, watch the eddy line, where the eddy rubs against the downstream flow and the waves pile up taller and more chaotically.  Be patient and await the tow’s passage and the eventual calming of the waters and then continue on.   At higher water levels the water speed is still strong but not as agitated as during low.  Just past Kangaroo Point there is sometimes a small sandbar formed bank right that makes the perfect place to get out of any northerly or westerly wind, or to make a pit-stop.  You won’t see this hideaway until you are directly below Mile Marker 652.2, if you want to make a stop here stay bank right and dive into the eddy below the point when you see an opening in the powerful revolving platter of the giant eddy.



648 LBD Horseshoe

The main channel gets shoved off of Kangaroo Point towards Horseshoe with a giant powerful eddy forming below the point RBD.  Your best downstream route is sticking to a line parallel to the edge of this giant eddy and going with the strongest tongue of current as it rushes along — now lively with boils and swirls — into the bend of the river below.  If there isn’t any approaching tow activity you can stay with this strong current and make a channel crossing with it towards the Mississippi bank LBD and from there follow the gently curving shoreline towards Miller Point.  If there are any tows around, however, it’s best to maintain one of the buoy-lines on one side of the channel or the other (i.e.: either the reds or the greens) and stay out of their way.  There is a reason this is called a crossing: upstream tows typically hug the greens around the base of Is 61 and then cross over to the reds below Kangaroo.  Downstreamers meanwhile go with the fast water along the greens past Kangaroo and cross over to the faster water with the reds bank left around Island 61. 


If you stay with the greens (square cans as the towboat pilots call them) be aware that the first wing dam (dike) above Island 61 creates particularly powerful commotions of water at all levels, and sometimes the buoy placed at its end is a diving duck.  The diving duck buoy is a distinct paddler’s hazard unique to the Mississippi.  If it erupts out of the depths directly into your forward motion you will be quickly capsized — or worse!  I’ve heard about paddlers who got wrapped by broadsiding a buoy.  Their rescue canoe got wrapped also.  All were fortunately rescued by a passing fisherman, but this might have not ended in a happy story. [Citation]  Remember, the most dangerous place around a tow is in front of one.  The pilots may or may not see you, and even though you have the right of way, you must defer to their passage or pay severe consequences.  On the big river it would be unusual if tow pilots even realize you’re there!  Usually they don’t see something as small as a kayak, and while a 2-man canoe might register on their radar the pilot can’t tell the difference between a log and a canoe.   After a tow passes, and you are a strong paddler who can handle waves, sure, go get some waves and enjoy the accelerated water behind a tow.  If you’re not a strong paddler, however, or you’re nervous about waves OR if there is a second tow approaching, by all means just stay out of the way.  There is plenty of room on the big river for all.


After you make your channel crossing you can follow the fastest water sticking close to the outside edge past Horseshoe all the way to Miller Point.  You are in a west running stretch of river here that ever so slowly starts to curve north before resolving itself around Miller Point.  As you slide past this prominent headland you will be paddling in a northwesterly direction.  So much for the south-flowing Mississippi River!  On a windy day with breezes out of the south this stretch of river 648 to 645 will be a much welcomed respite and a chance to grab a quick snack or drink of water, or even enjoy a floating lunch.  However if it’s a westerly or northerly you will pummeled by winds & haystacking waves.  Westerlies in particular seem to create choppy maelstroms of angled waves which no matter what direction you choose you seem to get pounded from all sides.  The tall trees bank left create a wind-tunnel effect which the paddler feels full force and might have to adopt to.  The bad news: the faster the river flow the more fierce the head wind feels.  The good news: once you reach Miller Point and push on into Old Towne Bend below the winds will begin to diminish and then eventually die out all together.  The beauty of the meandering river on a windy day!


Horseshoe is named for an old channel of the river that looped miles southward through the forests LBD, and then looped back to the north, forming a giant meander of the river behind and below Friars Point.  In 1824 the yoke of this loop was narrowed enough by the insatiable appetite of the river that during highwater the river over-ran the forested banks and cut through the yoke, carving a new channel clean across the narrows and leaving a giant oxbow lake isolated in the forests behind.  Horseshoe Lake still exists today, now surrounded by thousands of acres of forests, and is now a public-access lake ringed by cypress trees.  Access to this lake can be found off the Mississippi levee.

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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