The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

LBD 605 – 610 Island 70

Following the main channel of the river past Hurricane Point/Dennis Landing you will be thrust out mid channel with slower water left bank descending (and the large eddy at Dennis Landing).  At low water levels you must continue main channel because there is no other choice, but at higher water levels if you feel like exploring stay closer to the LBD (left bank descending) shore and enter the back channel of Island 70 which opens through a large mouth over some long dikes.  This channel flows merrily along above 25HG and rejoins the main channel several miles downstream.  There is a high ground top end of Island 70 that goes under around flood stage.  Like a classic towhead island it then descends in elevation gradually through willow/cottonwood forests to the bottom end which is considerably lower, and goes under completely around 30HG.


Sticking to the main channel the river runs strong past Laconia (RBD 608) and through Henrico Bend and is then thrust out again center channel for a crossing back to the Mississippi shore as you approach Smith Point.  Use long-range vision and scout the river as far downstream as you can see for upstream barges, which will also be crossing somewhere in this area.  The river feels bigger in this area, and it is.  The channel has been enlarged by the ancient influence of the Arkansas River, which is now not far off to the West.  In previous river epochs the Arkansas confluenced above this area and the Mississippi basin still retains the extra width.  On a clear day from Henrico you can see clear down the middle of the main channel all the way past Smith Point into Scrubgrass Bend where upstream tows can be vaguely seen chugging along below the tall trees lining the north bank RBD (right bank descending).   At low water tow pilots like to hug the slower waters LBD along Island 70 Dikes and then cross over well into Henrico Bend.


The River Mirage effect 

As you paddle along you will enjoy a striking long view downstream over the face of the river deep into Scrubgrass Bend as it bounces back and forth between slight variations of the banks and slides along in continental sheets of water over the hidden contours of the river bottom, in places seen as moody pools of water, in other places as fields of roiling agitation.  The juxtaposition of these various expressions of water make for some unforgettable riverscapes, the likes of which might not be possible anywhere else on earth for this unique combination of elements found only in the deepness of the Lower Mississippi Valley.  On very cold days river mirages are common here.  A river mirage occurs when there is a steep temperature gradient between the river and the atmosphere above it.  When the air temperature is much colder than the river these mirages are formed on the face of the river making strange distortions in the view downstream (or looking behind you upstream).  Sometimes these distortions appear as layers of a blue-grey substance something like water that undulate, sometimes rolling into waves that slowly & silently uncurl themselves in horizontal crests & troughs.  This can be a little un-nerving to an experienced paddler.  If it really was a wave, it would be a giant wave, like a tsunami sized wave.  But the paddler’s fears are quickly dispelled as the wave uncurls and then flattens out and everything assumes its real shape again. 


One of the most striking distortions is the enlargement effect.  Distant landmarks or objects get magnified over (or through) the mirages and appear much bigger or much closer than they actually are.  You might be able to clearly read a channel crossing mile-marker that is actually very far away and normally indecipherable.  You might see deer that normally would be impossible to discern walking along the river’s edge miles away.  


When towboats are in the area this can produce an alarming reaction for a paddler caught in some exposed place, say at the edge of a narrows or making a difficult channel crossing.  Imagine being halfway across the river in an unprotected place with fast water underneath and suddenly finding the tow that shortly before looked miles downstream now appears to be only a few hundred yards away and steaming directly for you!   You can clearly see the foamy whitewater jaws of death being pushed in front of the leading line of barges.  You paddle harder and harder but you cannot seem to get away from its line of passage.  This is a dangerous position for a paddler to be caught in, there is no escaping the front of a line of barges this close headed your way.  A cold clammy sweat envelopes you.  You paddle harder and harder but can’t make any headway.  Strangely there is no sound.  And then inexplicably the air quality changes slightly, and the mirage disappears, and the towboat returns to its actual position miles downstream where you had originally seen it!


Of course when the temperature gradient is the opposite, i.e. cold water covered with warm air, fog forms over the river surface.  This is a definite and very real hazardous condition.  Go immediately to shore.  On a still day with a thick fog descending, paddler’s beware!  Fog creates your most dangerous situations.  I’ve come close to meeting my maker more than once in the fog.  [CLICK HERE: Paddling and Fog]


RBD 604-601 Henrico Sandbar

An archipelago of islands forms around the bottom end of Henrico Dikes.  At the highest of river levels I’ve heard rumors of water connections via Half Moon Lake through various bayous into White River NWR such as Scrubgrass Bayou through the deep woods over to the White River, which would be well-worth exploring but would only be possible as the river nears flood stage.


  1. John Ruskey October 21, 2014 at 9:37 am

    A new concrete ramp has been built at Terene Landing LBD 592.1, about 50 yards below old ramp. It’s narrow and steep, but looks better situated than the old one. BTW: the old one is still there, but it will go under water sooner than the new one, and is more prone to becoming mud-bound.

  2. Anonymous June 7, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    Question about the following. Are those mile distances (592, 593) correct? They appear to be upstream of the Park. “For the paddler seeking a good campsite, the river side of Great River Road State Park never closes, because primitive camping is found along a series of bluffs at the bottom end of the Terrene Sandbar in between mile 592 and 593. There you will find the elements of the ideal campsite: easy access, protection, and good views.”

  3. Anonymous July 6, 2018 at 9:50 am

    Smith Point light (601.5) is LBD.

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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