The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

603-597 Scrubgrass Bend

Scrubrass Bend makes an elegant 180 degree semi circle around Smith Point.  Seen from the air the river channel scribes an almost perfect half moon.  You enter it paddling west (into sunset) and exit paddling east (into sunrise).  You might experience a common river illusion as you enter Scrubgrass from upstream from Henrico: it sometimes appears that the entire Mississippi River (the biggest volume river in this corner of the planet) dead ends into the wall of forest seen downstream.  It might strike readers as strange that a half-mile wide big volume river could appear to disappear.  But this is the way of the river.  Mythic.  Mysterious.  Miraculous.


If you are intending to enter the White River, which is located at the base of the bend RBD, stay middle channel and then hug the right bank further down.  Before you get there right bank descending at mile 599.5 is found a small pass into a bottomland lake which used to be the old channel and mouth of Scrubgrass Bayou, a White River distributary.  Above HG10 you can easily enter through an intriguing channel bordered by overhanging willows, which creates a thick canopy and is a great place to take temporary shelter on a hot day or windy winter’s day.  (Note: this place is marked No Trespassing but you’re okay staying on the water.)  For all other routes stay middle channel at first past Smith Point and then return bank left staying closer to the giant sandbar that sprawls around Smith Point at all but the highest of water levels.  Above 37HG an incredibly beautiful secret back channel can be found and followed behind Smith Point by staying right left and entering a narrow opening at the base of the Dike #1.  Go to Smith Point description below for the rest of the story.


If you’re continuing down Scrubgrass Bend towards Victoria Bend, Rosedale and points South, stay LBD.  There is a series of underwater Chevrons that were placed by the US Army Corps to break up the strong currents around the outside of the bend and to make conditions more favorable for upstream tows.  The water boils & swirls unpredictably over these chevrons, any wind or passing tows makes for big choppy waves. The water on the left side of the channel might seem slow at first but gradually it picks up speed, and past mile 600 it feels like the full force of the current has been shoved over LBD and it becomes the fastest side of the river (contrary to common river knowledge that the fast water stays on the outside of the bend).


At the base of Scrubgrass Bend new water enters the Mississippi from the White River, and then exits one mile downstream into the Old Channel of the White River!  If this sounds confusing, don’t worry, this is just one of the amazing attributes of the mysterious Mississippi.   Keep reading below for more description — Old Channel of the White River.


During rainy seasons up to 40,000 CFS (cubic feet per second) flow out of the White River into the mother river the Mighty Mississippi and hug the right bank for hundreds of yards downstream.  If you are paddling in this area you will see blossoming boils of creamy-colored water erupting through the browner/greener waters of the Mississippi.  Both are muddy, but the mud tones vary enough that a distinct demarcation can be seen by the paddler.  Watch out for upstream tows who will also be charging upriver in this same area of the river — and remember that a few of them will cut into the White, usually to access the Arkansas River through the Kerr-McClellan Canal.


LBD 601.5 – 598 Smith Point Sandbar

Smith Point Sandbar is high enough and large enough paddlers will discover it to be the best camping in this area of the river and should be included in any itinerary.  Of course, if the timing is off, or if it is very windy, you might chose elsewhere.  As with most big bars Smith Point is wide open and subject to any winds, storms and other caprices of the weather.


The most protected campsites are top end around mile 600 along or near the base of the three rocky dikes which radiate outwards.  As you paddle past the Smith Point Light 601.5 follow the tongue of water into Scrubgrass Bend and then start angling in Eastward LBD towards the giant sandbars you will see emerging from around the inside of the bend.  Pick and choose your place.  There are three miles of beach around Smith Point at medium water and more at low water.  You will always find good landings and campsites on this bar all of the way up to flood stage.  As the water rises above 35HG the choices become narrowed down to the sites found along the tallest plateau of sand that straddles the sandbar along the left bank behind the dike field.  But don’t fret over finding something.  This is a gigantic landscape: now instead of three miles of beach landings you now have two miles to chose from!  At 40HG the bar is reduced further, to maybe one mile of beach, and then goes completely under around flood stage.


If you don’t find any camping to your liking top end continue around the perimeter of the sandbar to the bottom end for other choices.  You will paddle past the shoaling area around the ends of the dikes below mile 600 and still hugging LBD look for the last possible landings & campsites along the abruptly falling bottom end of the Smith Point Sandbar.  At low water this giant sandbar ends in a steep cut bank of sand thirty to forty feet tall.  Its a long climb up a slippery sand cliff reaching the top at low water, but the view up into the White and down the Old Channel of the White is rewarding.  After unloading gear be sure to remove your vessel completely out of the water and secure it well above river level plus three feet higher (at least).  As the powerful tows begin their difficult ascent up the strong waters coming downstream around Scrubgrass they have to gun their engines full throttle and the resulting waves can wash high up the bank, sometimes as high as three feet above river level, and will immediately upset and pull back anything within their grasp.  Of course as the river climbs higher this steep bluff becomes more user-friendly, eventually water reaches sandy floor height (around 35HG) and then overtops the whole bottom end.

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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