The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

RBD 634 Modoc Old River Lake

At the outside edge of the very NW crook of the elbow bend Fair Landing is found a narrow mud-bound slot entrance into an old channel of the river now isolated as a parallel lake, Modoc Old River.  Birds frequent Modoc Pass, especially waders and songbirds (in season) as well as other wildlife, notably turtles and beaver.  Watch for deer trails which sometimes look as well travelled as cow trails leading to the barn.  Previous to the 2011 Flood Modoc opening was a favorite gathering spot for the unpredictable Asian Carp, which is prone to jumping high in the air at your passage, often landing in your lap or in your vessel with a mess of blood & slime.  But since the flood less have been seen in this area.   (Note: You will find the name Old River scattered throughout the basin — this refers simply to an old channel of the Mississippi).  [CLICK HERE: Old River]. 


Finding Modoc: If you’re not looking for it you can easily paddle by without noticing.  After making your crossing approach the Hughey Upper Light 643.3 and follow the boil line scouting the bank closely for an opening at the furthest NW corner of the bend.  At medium water you can easily paddle in without break from the main channel.   At high water the woods become flooded and you can choose from any number of openings and paddle through the willow woods found at the mouth into the open lake behind, sometimes there is a gentle flow in and out with the fluctuations of current and water level.  The lake is found one to two hundred yards north through this willow forest.


At low water a short stub dike emerges running parallel to the current; you will have to round the end of this dike and then follow the eddy back into the sheltered waters behind to access.  Around 10 HG this pass becomes cut off completely from the river, but you can still make a muddy landing and walk back into the slot opening.  Watch out for deep holes of soft mud which can easily eat you up waist deep and remove your shoes as you exit, shoes never to be seen again!  Safest walk is higher up towards the trees.  In general the lower the mud bar the more likely it is to be soft, the higher the firmer and hence better walking.


At medium waters this opening acts like any classic Lower Mississippi River pass, flowing inwards with muddy silt-laden water when the river is rising, flowing outwards with clearer green waters when it is falling.  [CLICK HERE: River Pass].  Why is the water green?  Blame it on the plankton.  Big River biologist Dr. Clifford Ochs (U. Miss) and his graduate student Nok Pongruktham used Modoc as one of their outdoor laboratories for their 2008-2011 study of the generation and propagation of freshwater phytoplankton in the Lower Mississippi River system.  Other locations in their study are Island 63 Chute and Mellwood Lake.   Here’s how it happens: The muddy water flows into Modoc, which then later gets cut off as the river drops.  When the muddy waters sit still sediments drop out and the water clears and conditions become ideal for the plankton: excess nutrients and abundant light.   The plankton population explodes and fairly rapidly the lakes turn green with the bodies of lots and lots of microscopic algae – in fact, 20 to 30 times more algal biomass per volume than in the river!  So, in late spring and in summer, the lakes become green hot spots for biological production. 


Similar to their oceanic counterparts the plankton provide the most basic fuel and nutrient source for the food web, from insects to fresh water shrimp to fishes to mammals (including humans).   According to Dr. Ochs backwater lakes like Modoc become supermarkets supermarkets for biological production of all kinds of organisms from the algae (at the base of the food web) to big slimy or hairy animals of various kinds.


These backwater lakes, because they remove nutrients in the form of new algal bodies, may have some importance in removing nutrients that would otherwise flow into the Gulf – but how important the lakes are in sequestering nutrients (temporarily removing them from circulation) is a still unanswered question. As with all things in the Mississippi little is known about plankton life cycles.  Clifford Ochs and Nok Pongruktham are working to increase our understanding of the overall cycle of life along the Mississippi River.  And of course, knowledge leads to better use.


[CLICK HERE: Phytoplankton and the River]


LBD 632 Robson Towhead

Gravel Bar top end at lowest water levels, possible fossil finding.  2011 flood exposed several trunks of ancient trees that once predominated in the floodplain.  Possible picnic place low to medium water levels, as you make landing and later leave out watch for approaching tows.  At medium to high water levels a stormy weather shelter can be found opposite Fair Landing in the willow forest at mile 632.5.

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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