The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

The beautiful white-sand beaches found along the lower dikes #3, #4, #5 and #6 make excellent pit stops, picnic sites, but is too open for predictable camping.  A photograph from one of these beaches on a sunny day seems to suggest the Caribbean not the muddy Mississippi.  You might want to set up a volleyball net and suntan alongside the sparkling waters reflecting the deep blues of the sky.  Swim at your own risk.  Watch for strange currents.  The waters tend to pull away from the sandbar into the depths of the main navigation channel here.  Strong swimmers only, and designate a lifeguard equipped with safety rope and rescue vessel.  If you are a weaker swimmer or have children your best bet will be to find an off-channel place where the water is calm and quiet.  With a little exploring you should be able to locate calm places around the backside of the sandbar.  [CLICK HERE: Safe Swimming]


The best blue holes in the area were seasonally carved below Dike #5 but the high waters 2011 covered them all in deep sand.  Maybe they’ll reappear in the future?


As you pass below the forested top of Island 69 opposite the Lower end of Sessions (near Mile 614) your will be attracted to a shining cone-shaped building downstream that looks like a silver pyramid, maybe a repeat vision of the Memphis Pyramid.  This is the Bunge Elevator at Dennis Landing.  The river has not treated this grain elevator kindly, for years it was rendered inoperable by growing shoals, in 2011 it was completely flooded. The Boat Launch is located a mile above the Elevator.  If you are planning a landing at Hurricane Point (Mile 610: Dennis Landing) You can stay main channel, or go back channel Island 69, but don’t follow the Secret Old Back Channel described below or you will end up a mile below the landing and will have to make a very strenuous upstream paddle and a vigorous ferry crossing to reach the landing. 


If you want to explore a back channel, you could also cross over to the Mississippi shoreline LBD and jump into the back channel behind Cession’s Towhead — and be well positioned for reaching Dennis Landing.  Keep reading below.


RBD 615.5 Island 69 Old Back Channel

Opens up around HG 18, strong flow at 25, forests flood out at 35.  Just below Knowlton high ground is a secret back channel RBD that is well worth paddling through for excellent wildlife viewing and a vision into the big forests and mud-bank side channels that used to run wild all over the Mississippi Valley.  Hug the right bank descending below Knowlton and look for a gaping opening in the woods in between Island 69 Dikes #1 and #2 (marked on map as Below Knowlton Dikes).  Remember the paddler’s rule of thumb, if its flowing in, its gotta be coming back out — somewhere.  River water seems to get sucked into this yawning opening and is forced inwards and gets swirled around several bends, narrowing as it does. 


Secret entrance to Knowlton Blue Hole: Around the second bend, at its NW extremity you will see a narrow channel maybe 30 feet wide entering into RBD, this is a water entrance into Knowlton Blue Hole, you can cut in here and paddle a hundred yards through the willows for a view of the lake and surrounding wetlands.  Beavers abound here in between floods.  For several decades I used to visit the largest beaver lodge I have ever seen — which was found situated between the willows behind Knowlton.  The flood of 2011 removed the lodge, but probably this will be rebuilt by local residents or the castor order.


Continuing down the old back channel keep conversation down and paddle quietly and you will see wildlife not seen anywhere else.  I’ve encountered Choreopsis Moths, the largest of North American moths, and a dazzling array of songbirds.  One winter day while floating along in a canoe my silent passage was rewarded with a view of herds of white tailed deer swimming across the channel.  One summer day the strikingly beautiful milk snake swam alongside and allowed me to take several photographs.  I’ve found bear tracks alongside mine, and have heard many stories from local fisherman & hunters about bear encounters, and bear swimming the back channels.


Halfway down the three-mile channel is a low road crossing connecting the mainland to the Island 69 Hunting Camp, the water should be flowing over the low road until the river drops below 10HG.  One year hunting camp members decided to close off the back channel with crude earthworks for permanent vehicle access, but later the US Army Corps made them remove all traces, it being illegal to close off flowing waterways.  You get fleeting glimpses of several hunting camps as you float by, but the forests resume below, fields on the mainland, the waterway twists this way and that, at one place rounding and small island with the biggest trees in the area, and then eventually spilling out into another back channel of Island 69.


Island 69 is an archipelago of Islands.  As you exit the secret old channel you are entering another bigger back channel. If you need to make landing at Hurricane Point (Dennis Landing) you will have to paddle upstream several hundred yards and then ferry over a solid mile to make the crossing.  If you are continuing downstream stay with the flow and follow it a half mile where it rejoins the main channel for points downstream.

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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