The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

671-673 LBD St. Francis Bar

Created by historic flooding of the St. Francis River, the St. Francis Bar is a perennial sandbar that varies from a mile long at low water, to half a mile at medium water, and is completely submerged during high water (goes under around HG37).  Beautiful picnic site, and good swimming off its white sand beaches.  [CLICK HERE: Safe Swimming] Watch out for nesting least tern April through June.


670 LBD St. Francis Dikes


669 LBD Flower Lake Dikes

Above 20HG (medium water) you can paddle behind several narrow islands found on the Mississippi shoreline left bank descending which are formed over the St. Francis and Flower Lake Dikes.  Stay LBD and paddle hard to cut into the narrow openings leading behind these islands for reprieve from the wind and towboat traffic and gain some relief from the vast & sometimes overwhelming hugeness of the main channel.  Simultaneously enjoy some close up views of wildlife and the forests found in this area.  Possible camping on dunes which accumulate on these islands, especially at the bottom end of the Flower Lake Dikes Island, near Mile 668.  Only accessible during Medium to High Water.  During Low Water a tall rip-rap rock dike emerges which forms a solid wall almost a mile long, and this prevents paddlers from reaching the Mississippi LBD shore.  However, at the end of this long rock wall you can eddy around the backside and gain landing in a completely protected harbor formed by the same wall.  Landing here is possible for a picnic, rest, or a creative campsite within this strange & inspiring river-scape.


668 RBD (a view of) Crowley’s Ridge

As you are approaching the top end of Buck Island you will be welcomed to the area with a grand view of Crowley’s Ridge.  Helena is located at the Southern end of Crowley’s Ridge, Where the Ridge meets the River (still 7 miles downstream).  Crowley’s Ridge is something of a geographic anomaly in an otherwise pancake flat floodplain.  In geologic history the Mississippi once flowed on the other side of the ridge, the western side, and the Ohio commanded the eastern.  They didn’t meet until downstream somewhere near present-day Vicksburg.  St. Francis National Forest, the smallest forest in the National Forest system, straddles the last 30 miles of the ridge, and protects this strange landscape of steep ridges and viney tangled bottoms.  Crowley’s Ridge runs north all the way up to the Missouri Ozarks, and provides high ground for the cities Marianna, Forest City and Jonesboro; and for the paddler  significantly so at its southern terminus where sits the happy & dry city of Helena (keep reading…)


668-663 RBD Buck Island (Prairie Point Towhead)

Buck Island was saved from auction block by the American Land Conservancy in 2008 and is now protected by a permanent wetlands easement through the NRCS, which means that it will never be forested again, and our children will one day enjoy the big woods that used to predominate in the Mississippi Valley.  Now managed by Arkansas Game & Fish, you can camp or picnic here, and hunt & fish.


Buck Island is the best camping in the area.  Good campsites can be found around perimeter of island on any of the sandy inlets or dunes, or other places with a good landing and natural refuge.  During inclement weather seek shelter in or near the many stands of trees.  If storms are in the forecast, chose a location with shelter from the approaching storms.  Never locate a camp where you might get blown over by the fierce front-line winds that often precede severe thunderstorms.  [CLICK HERE for more about Camping].  As with all islands on the Lower Mississippi River paddlers should practice the seven principals of Leave No Trace. [CLICK HERE for Leave no Trace].


Buck Island is a 1420 acre island with 880 acres of native forests and 620 acres of large white sand beaches at medium water, this grows to almost 3,000 acres of sand at the lowest of river levels.  Of course, at high water there is no sand to be found (above 35 HG).  Buck Island is a refuge and paradise for the long distance paddler because it is now a publicly owned island and you can camp and picnic on it without fear of cramping somebody’s hunting camp or private property of any sort.  Furthermore Buck Island has five miles of hiking trails, and a three-mile side channel. These natural assets provide outstanding opportunities for wildlife viewing, camping, hiking, paddling, swimming, fishing, and eventually hunting, and also supports numerous wildlife species, including the endangered least tern, fat pocketbook mussel, and pallid sturgeon. The island is also a stop-over site along the Mississippi Flyway, used by 65 percent of North American migratory bird species. Buck Island is a one hour paddle from AGFC’s public boat ramp in Helena Harbor, making it easily accessible. The island has been highlighted in national publications including Canoe & Kayak Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, and ESPN

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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