The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

RBD 597.5 – 580 Big Island

The Mississippi runs along the Eastern edge of Big Island all of the way from the mouth of the White RIver to the Arkansas River Confluence, so you might as well make friends, — it will be your right bank shoreline companion for the next seventeen miles!   20,000 acre island privately owned hunting camps and frequently logged for its valuable timber.  Historic homeland of the Quapaw Nation, once the largest and most powerful native population in this section of the Lower Mississippi.  Visited by John James Audubon, Mark Twain, and once a thriving den of river pirates and moonshiners.  As a healthy vibrant no-man’s land Big Island has been the getaway of choice for anyone avoiding the law — as well as dreamers seeking to escape the confines of civilization.  Its northern boundary is defined by the White, its Western by the Arkansas, its Eastern by the Mississippi.  The Southern end narrows down to a large sandbar island at the confluence of the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers called the Arkansas Bar.  It is the natural exit for the White River National Wildlife Refuge.  Taken together they provide a rich forested corridor for migrating birds and mammals alike, broken only by bayous and the big rivers. 


Big Island is truly a spectacular natural phenomena, a landscape cut by, flooded by and defined by three big rivers.  If river rats have a heaven (and this is debatable) Big Island is it.  If the Louisiana Black Bear needed to find a hollow log for hibernation, it would be found on Big Island.  If wild pigs could choose their ideal range, Big Island would be it.  If the Ivory Billed Woodpecker has returned to life (as many would maintain), it would be found deep in the woods of Big Island.  If any one place deserves attention as a place that needs future attention for conservation along the Lower Mississippi, this is it.


Paddlers have many choices in getting around Big Island.  Downstreamers can stay main channel all of the way around its Eastern perimeter.  But there are two sporty choices that will definitely add to the dynamics of your journey: 1) Cut up the White River 5 miles, portage over to the Arkansas River and paddle 28 miles down the Arkansas back to the Mississippi; and 2) Follow the Old Channel of the White in between Big Island and Montgomery Island.  The first is for hardened voyageurs only, paddlers capable of a grueling portage and capable of orientation through swamps & woods.  The second is a delightful nine-mile long side channel through the Old White River that is a stand-out opportunity and requires no special ability.  If long distance paddlers had to choose just one back channel to explore and get the feel of the Mississippi as it used to be before channelization, rip-rap, dikes & revetment, the Old Channel of the White would be it.  Keep reading below.


596-594 Victoria Bend

If you are on a time schedule or don’t feel like exploring the back channel, follow the strong flow of water out of Scrubgrass Bend as it issues forth running almost due East for several miles until forced Southward by the elbow shaped Victoria Bend.  You could stay LBD descending through this whole section and have fast water all the way around Victoria Bend past Terrene Landing LBD 592.1.  At low water an interesting sand bar emerges from the Montgomery Bend Dikes RBD 596-594 in a series of big bars, highly sculpted by every highwater, sometimes topped with scattered gravel bars, and oftentimes sparkling blue holes are formed below the dikes.  Good pull-over place if you are running RBD.


LBD 592.1 Terrene Landing

After making your crossing around Victoria Bend choose a line of travel down the Mississippi shore LBD.  Two miles out of the bend you will see several mansions along the bank.  Past the second one, a blocky two-story affair is a wide concrete ramp.  This is a private ramp called Waxhaw Landing built by the US Army Corps for construction of the Montgomery Point Lock & Dam.  Now privatized, do not make landing.  The owners are not known to be paddler friendly.  Terrene Landing is a hundred yards downstream.  This steep narrow concrete ramp needs to be replaced but for now its the only option for paddlers needing access above Rosedale.  The muddy parking lot above is subject to flooding and is notorious for break-ins.  Do not leave your vehicle here under any circumstance.  Arrange a shuttle if needed.  Its a three-mile walk into Rosedale. 


Note: If you need resupply your other options are 1) Great River Road State Park LBD 590-588 which (depending on river level) might be a two mile walk into town and 2) the Rosedale Harbor LBD 584.5 which involves a two-mile paddle up the slackwater harbor and then a two-mile walk into town.  As you surely know by now, they never made it easy on the river-rat!

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