The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

RBD 578.4 Napoleon Light

In his rambling Life on the Mississippi Mark Twain digresses through several chapters with a drawn-out story reaching into a Bavarian mausoleum concerning the bereaved hamlet of Napoleon.  Once numbering upwards of 1,000 inhabitants, Napoleon promised to become the largest city in the Lower Mississippi Valley, primarily due to its strategic location below the mouth of the Arkansas. The Union Army and then the destructive nature of the big river proved otherwise when a channel was cut through Beulah Bend and the river eagerly followed through and proceeded to eat everything along the western bank below, including Napoleon.  The distressed inhabitants suffered the collapse of their village one building at a time, one street at a time, and eventually the whole town became submerged.  All that remains today are stories and this light named in its honor.  The town site itself is now covered by the sprawling top end of the Arkansas Bar.  The last evidence of its existence was seen during the low water of 1957.  Like its namesake marching into Moscow, Napoleon Arkansas arrived, conquered, and was then conquered.


LBD 574.5 Mouth of Lake Whittington

A classic river pass, which way the water is going will demonstrate whether the river is rising or falling.  Good place for quick shelter from the weather on a hot sunny day or a cold windy day.  This beautiful tree-lined channel cuts through deep forested hunting camps and opens up into the giant oxbow Lake Whittington.  A favorite fishing hole.  Private Boat Ramp just below mouth.  There is possible Access to & from Mississippi side of the river via boat ramps on Lake Whittington.


RBD 575.8 Caulk Eddy

Tall sandy bluff of a sandbar thrown high against Arkansas shore less than one mile below the Caulk Light 576.5, excellent location to quickly exit the river in case of towboat emergency or imminently approaching wind or thunderstorms out of the north or west.  No camping (private property) but good shelter, even if you stay floating in your vessel and let danger pass. 


RBD 575-572.5 Caulk Neck Bar

Small Towhead along inside of Caulk Neck Bend, forming gravel bar top end at low water, a short (2 mile long) back channel behind at high water.  Private Hunting Camp.  Frequented by ATVs and 4WDs.


576-572 Caulk Neck Cut-Off

During the Great Flood of 2011 the entire Mississippi River violently whisked around Caulk Neck Cut-Off and was concentrated into a mess of swiftly sliding boils and extreme river eruptions past Catfish Point and into Cypress Bend.  Writer Hodding Carter and I ran the river from Memphis to Vicksburg as it was cresting in mid May with photographer Christopher LaMarca for Outside Magazine.  At Caulk Neck Cut-Off we encountered the fastest moving water of the whole expedition.  We didn’t have GPS but I had glanced at my watch as we floated past the mouth of the Arkansas at mile 580.  It was 2:05pm.  40 minutes later we found ourselves rounding Cypress Bend near mile 570.  We had run ten miles in forty minutes!  The speed made me dizzy and ill at ease.   Everything was moving too fast, too uncontrollably.  Never had I ever moved so fast on any river, not to mention the biggest river in North America flooding everything in its valley from levee over to levee.  Imagine the alarm you would feel driving down a highway you know intimately at four times normal speed, say at 240 miles an hour!  40 minutes later found us adjacent Mounds Crevasse near mile 560.  The river seemed to relax a little bit after Choctaw, slowing down to 10 mph (which is still 2-3 times normal water speed in this area!).


Exclusive Catfish Point Hunting Club resort with mansion sized camps and private airstrip are found along the outside of this bend.  The most expedient route around Caulk Neck Cut-Off is floating left bank along the scattering of hunting camp mansions and follow the strong flow of water into Cypress Bend.  You will float past the intriguing mouth of Lake Whittington, then a private boat launch, then a private airstrip, and several miles of mansions. If you haven’t smelled it or seen it from afar the startling silhouette of the Potlatch Company’s pulp mill complex is visible standing over the woods far downstream (RBD 571).  You won’t want to camp anywhere in this vicinity, especially when the wind is blowing in your direction, for the offensive aroma of rotten eggs (dioxins) common to pulp mills, as well as disconcerting thumping and shredding sounds.  When the wind is blowing right I swear I can detect this rotten egg aroma in Clarksdale, 45 miles northeast!  This is an unfortunate location because the nearby Catfish Point Bar, found inside Cypress Bend, is one of the larger islands on the Lower Mississippi.  The good news is that there is even better camping another ten miles downstream on publicly-owned Choctaw Island.

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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