The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Leg 5: Down the Mississippi River.  16.5 miles.  One Day.  Follow the Main Channel of the Mississippi River out of Scrubgrass Bend.  Recommended detour through the Old Channel of the White.  [CLICK HERE: Sibley’s Chute]  If staying main channel you will find the fastest water LBD below Smith Point Sandbar.  Round Victoria Bend, pass Terrene Landing.  Stop at Terrene Bar LBD for picnicking or camping.  Plan your return to the Mississippi shore LBD as you pass the Malone Field and look carefully for the opening back into the Rosedale Harbor. 


Below the Arkansas Confluence

If there was any question before, all doubts will now be erased: you are on the B-I-G

R-I-V-E-R.   The beautiful word Mississippi is derived from the Ojibwe name misi-ziibi, meaning Great River, or gichi-ziibi, meaning Big River.  The awe-struck DeSoto expedition called it El Rio Grande the big river.  You often hear it called the Father of Waters, although I prefer the name Mother River on the Lower Miss because it runs so wild and has so many moods, and simultaneous gave birth to the productive Lower Mississippi Valley.  Paddlers in Natchez have named it the Phatwater and celebrate its greatness with an annual forty-five mile challenge. 


Whatever you call it, the big muddy river dominates the landscape more proudly and pervasively than any of the many forces which combine, multiply & divide over the middle of America.  The sun rises and sets.  The moon rules the night sky for a time and then is reduced to a sliver, and then ends its cycle as a pale ghost.  The wind blows itself into gusts and gales and then subsides and stills.  The forests explode in greenery through the warm months and then become naked barren brown & blacks in the cold. The passage of severe thunderstorms comes & goes.  Hurricanes threaten for a season.  Only the river remains present — forever strong, unruly, unstransmutable.  It fluctuates in scale, from low water to high water to flood, but its inherit character remains constant.


Below the Arkansas everything increases proportionately: the face of the river, the pools between shoals, the size of the islands, the sweep of the sandbars, the length of the willow forests, the depth of the muddy banks.  Even the narrows are less narrow.  As you look downstream you will find an enlarged expanse of muddy brownish greenish water rolling & tumbling through incrementally bigger river bends.  There are a few smaller tributaries downstream, notably the Yazoo and the Big Black, but none effect the scale of the big river as significantly as the Arkansas.  Here the Mississippi River swells to its mature fullness  and happily fills its wide valley with the gurgling waters of a nation, everything in between Montana and New York State, everything from the Rockies to the Appalachians, from the Smokies to the Alleghenies, from the New Mexican Plateau to the Cumberland Plateau, from the Great Plains to the Eastern Woodlands, and through the heartland, the midwest, the mid south and deep south, and most famously from the North Woods (Lake Itasca) to the Coastal Marshes of the Gulf of Mexico (Birdsfoot Delta).


For the paddler this largesse can be at turns enlightening, frightening and  overwhelming.  It can inspire you to new perspectives and motivate life-changing decisions.  It can subdue you to the point of boredom, and leave you confused and feeling utterly alone to the point of despair.  You’ll never feel more challenged; you’ll never be more humbled.


I know this is overly-romantic, but its true.  Give the river enough leash and it will share with you all of the above!


LBD 581-576 Prentiss Sandbar

As you round Prentiss Bend and continue downstream, past the mouth of the Arkansas River you will find a long skinny sandbar that stretches up to five miles long at low water around Monerrey Bend.  At medium water this becomes a 2-mile long island that you can duck behind (but be prepared for slow water), and at high water its further reduced to one mile, and goes completely under before the river reaches flood stage.  Towards its bottom end a narrow scruffy line of trees is found atop a narrow ridge which abruptly ends in a muddy cut bank at its bottom end.  Note: towboats sometimes sneak behind Prentiss Bar during high water, which can be a frightening encounter for a paddler.


Possible open bar camping on Prentiss Bar but be prepared for company.  Locally known as Venice Beach.  Sometimes degenerates into a lively beach party on hot spring/summer afternoons for Delta State University college students and others from nearby Cleveland (accessible by motorboats from Rosedale Harbor).  Towboat pilots and boy scouts yearn for a view of the topless beauties that reportedly grace this bar.  An adventurous troop once approached this section of river excited for the possible glimpses.  But daylight failed as they passed the Arkansas confluence and their testosterone levels suffered a severe letdown enduring repeated attacks by squadrons of mosquitoes as they were forced to set up camp in the darkness, the mermaids having long departed for home.

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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