The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Muddy Waters Wilderness 

The section of river from Quapaw Landing down to the mouth of the Arkansas and then on down to Vicksburg has become known locally by big river paddlers as the Muddy Waters Wilderness.   Not that its officially designated as such, but its definitely muddy and its definitely wild — and its the homeland of blues great Muddy Waters!


Wild?  Yes!  This is the hardest-to-get-to section of river with the most remote islands and wildest stretches of woods below the Mississippi River Headwaters in the State of Minnesota.  There is only one bridge in 200 miles of river.  There are several big tributary rivers that add to the feeling of wildness, the White and the Arkansas, each of which encompass hundreds of thousands of acres of protected bottomland hardwood forest and confluence with the Mississippi in an incredible labyrinth of islands, forests, bayous, blue holes and back channels.  Its the largest roadless area in the mid-south.  There are more bears than humans.  Several giant islands Big Island and Choctaw Island add to the wildness because they make land access even more difficult.  There are no through roads.  The roads and the levees all dead end in this area.  And as all paddlers know: where their road ends our road begins!  Throughout the entire 200 mile length there is little evidence of civilization.  The paddler enjoys wild open places, deep forests, hidden back channels, rich wildlife, and spectacular camping throughout.


Muddy Waters was born in Rolling Fork and grew up in Coahoma County.  On the shuttle drive from Clarksdale the route passes through Stovall Plantation where Muddy Waters became a man under the loving care of his grandmother for 25 years before going North and becoming the King of the Chicago Blues, his music leading directly to the birth of Rock & Roll.  When you hear the song I am a Man! that’s Muddy Waters — or Got my Mojo Working or countless other classics.  Muddy’s masterpiece Rolling and Tumbling flows like a metaphoric dreamscape mixing river terminology with the angst of growing up black in the Deep South.  If you paddle all the way to Vicksburg your return shuttle will take you up the blues highway US 61 back north through Muddy’s birthplace Rolling Fork.  Live blues is commonly found being performed throughout the Mississippi Delta, oftentimes in downhome juke joints, rugged social clubs that might look rough on the outside but inside pulse the soul & heart of the Delta Blues.  After all this is the land the blues was born in — and never died.  In Clarksdale alone, live blues can be heard every night of the week Tuesday through Sunday at several different juke joints and clubs.  Blues festivals abound throughout the region.  Check the schedule below.  Paddlers might want to plan their river adventures to coincide with live blues.  Many paddlers who discover this little-known (and entirely unique) paradise of deep blues and deep river wilderness fall to their knees and thank the river gods for their good fortune and return year after year for healthy doses of this doubly cathartic rejuvenation [CLICK HERE: Blues and the River].


LBD 637 (Back Channel Island 63)

Quapaw Landing
N34.262962, W-90.744088 

Steep narrow concrete ramp.  Sometimes covered with mud & slippery.  Quapaw Landing is usable at all water levels.  Below 0HG the ramp bottoms out but this is still accessible for the paddler.  Around HG 40 the concrete ramp becomes completely submerged — but this is no problem for paddlers who can easily slide their craft directly off the old levee.  During high water the forests surrounding the landing become flooded, the waters spread out and become a clearish-green color as the silt drops out.  Paddlers can push off into the calmed waters of the flooded parking lot from the dry ground of the old levee. 


Old Levee at Quapaw 

The Old Levee predates the newer levee built in the decade following the Great Flood of 1927 and still protects the fields and hunting camps at Burke’s Point.  Put ins or take outs can be made off the old levee all the way up to flood stage.


Levee Break below Quapaw Landing


As you paddle out of Quapaw Landing and head downstream, left bank descending is a steep muddy cliff carved by the back channel topped by the old levee, cliff swallows are found nesting here in the warmer seasons and beavers sometimes dig their burrows into the mud below root balls.  Approximately 200 yards downstream of Quapaw the old levee was violently broken during the May 2011 flood into a striking landscape of giant free-standing muddy cliff shards, muddy hoo-doos, mud-boulders, and gaping muddy holes, places where the river dove into and then devoured the old levee.  The forest is flattened as if broken over by a tornado and giant piles of logs and driftwood are jammed against one last layer of tall courageous trees behind what used to be the old levee.  Beyond this single wall of trees the rushing water cascaded through and carved out a canyon in the alluvium — a giant blue hole.  If you pull over LBD and climb to the top of the muddy bank and look through this wall of logs you will see a deep hole the size of several Olympic swim pools.  This is a blue hole that was hollowed out during the high water of May 2011.  It seems to be bottomless.  We are yet to see any evidence of its profoundness, even during low water 2011.  The old levee was breached here also during the high waters of 1997 and locals were forced to re-route their access road and re-build the old levee.  Two times in two decades.  It seems as if the river is hungry for this location.


  1. John Ruskey April 14, 2015 at 8:37 am

    There are two small willow islands above Island 64 right bank descending at mile 631 that sit like twins, side-by-side,that we have become known as “Angie Island” and “Allie Island” in appreciation of two river angels who helped change the Mississippi Tax Code for recognition of Nature Tourism and river guiding . Angie and Allie Islands are a couple of landmarks navigating the river downstream of Quapaw Landing, and appear like two pieces of paradise in a wide expanse of water. The river is easily a mile wide there, maybe one and a half miles wide at high water. Angie and Allie appear like a mirage as you paddle around Burke’s Point, and in the summer their resident willows hang over the water like palm trees, rewarding visitors with cool shade and sandy landings.

  2. John Ruskey July 25, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Angie Island and Allie Island are now joined by nearby Ringo Island! As with all Mississippi RIver Islands, they are sometimes connected to land (at low water), and sometimes submerged (during highwater).

  3. Anonymous December 28, 2018 at 10:24 am

    **NOTE*** Landing Closed!!! As of Dec 2018 access to Hurricane Point Landing LBD610 is now blocked at the levee by a locked gate. This landing was open via a 20 year lease, which recently expired. No further information available at this point. Next public landing downstream would be Terrene Landing, LBD 592.1

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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