The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail


[CLICK HERE: Map of the Helena]


Mark Twain said that Helena occupies the prettiest situations on the Mississippi River…  Twain should have also added: and the driest…  Thanks to Crowley’s Ridge Helena has the distinction of being the only remaining population of any size to be found directly on the main channel in between Memphis & Vicksburg, some 300 miles of river.  This fact in of itself deserves special attention.  Other locales such as Rosedale, Greenville and Arkansas City that used to be sure-nuf river towns sitting right on the banks of the main channel and serviced by water vessels have been abandoned by the unstoppable shifting nature of the big river.  Crowley’s Ridge provides Helena high ground and squeezes the river enough that you can still walk over the levee from downtown Cherry Street and watch towboats go sailing by, stick your toes in the water, and board your canoe.  The American Queen Steamboat will resume passage in Spring 2012 with stops here.


As such, Helena is the most logical place for a stop-over and resupply for the long distance paddler, and the best choice in the region as a one-stop push off location to base your Lower Mississippi Water Trail adventure from.  (see below for second choice Clarksdale, Mississippi, which is located 10 miles inland from the river).  Conveniences like the Post Office, Groceries, Book Store and the Library can all be found within walking distance, but be sure to hide or secure your canoe when you leave to walk into town.  If you’re traveling in a team leave someone as guard.  For wifi visit the library or the Delta Cultural Center.  If you’re staying overnight in one of the many B&Bs, or need transportation anywhere, call Quapaw Canoe Company (870) 228-2266 for assistance.  Recommended high quality overnight: Edwardian Inn.  Tell them we sent you for a special paddler’s 10% discount.


You will want to visit the Delta Cultural Center in downtown Helena, just over the levee from the Harbor.  There are two annexes, both dedicated to the history & culture of the Delta, and both definitely worth the extra hour or two for a visit.  If you arrive mid-day, you can sit in on one of Sunshine Sonny Payne’s legendary King Biscuit Time Radio Program on AM1360, which broadcasts live from the Delta Cultural Center every day Monday-Friday from 12:15 – 12:45pm.


[CLICK HERE: Helena Accommodations]


[CLICK HERE: Helena Services]

Quapaw Canoe Company — Helena Outpost 

Quapaw Canoe Company is located just over the levee from the River Park at 411 Ohio Street with a 7,000 square foot warehouse full of canoes, kayaks and stand up paddleboards.  QCC keeps river maps, county maps and state maps, and also books, magazines and other literature of interest to the big river paddler.  Paddler’s support equipment such as paddles, life jackets, ropes, bailers, sponges, and etc.  QCC offers workshops on Big River Canoe & Kayak Safety, as well as self-rescue and canoe building.  Shuttles, storage and any other services for the paddler can be found here.  (870) 228-2266.


King Biscuit Blues Festival

(2nd weekend of October) 

Every Fall, during the second full weekend of October, one of the world’s greatest blues festivals takes place on the banks of the Mississippi River in downtown Helena.  As you paddle down the main channel of the river the sounds of towboats and cicadas in the river valley is replaced with the scintillating vibrations of the purest music tradition that was born out of the cottonfields of the deep south — the music that broke down the barriers of segregation and led to the birth of rock & roll — the downhome Delta Blues!


Imagine listening to world-class blues artists from where you sit on the levee, incredible blues performances in front of you, the Mississippi River flowing behind!  Traditionally the music starts Thursday at noon and runs through Saturday night.  Music is presented at five different stages in the downtown, and historic Cherry Street becomes a pedestrian mall lined with food vendors, arts & crafts booths and street musicians.  You can camp directly on the banks of the river in the Helena River Park, or you could camp on Buck Island and paddle in for the music.  For your own safety please don’t drink & paddle, and exercise special caution when paddling at dusk, or after dark.  Use running lights in case of close encounters with yachts, party boats and other motorized craft that frequent the harbor during festival time.


For more information about the King Biscuit Blues Festival, visit their website:

Leave A Comment

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