The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Memphis to Tunica

Pickett Dikes Back Channel

Only possible during high water.  Good route to follow in high water for landing at Tunica Riverpark Museum.  Stay LBD below Cat Island and follow bankside trees as close as possible for wildlife and scenic interest.

 

Tunica Riverpark Museum Boat Ramp

LBD 699.5

Wide well maintained boat ramp.  Best access in North Mississippi.  Best year-round boat ramp between Memphis and Helena.  Besides the Memphis Yacht Club this is the only place on the Lower Mississippi that you could possibly leave your vehicle overnight without fear of it being broken into.  Check with museum security first.  Possible ramp fee.

 

Tunica Riverpark Museum

Must-stop for any paddlers passing through this area.  Interpretive exhibits designed by author John Barry (Rising Tide), aquarium, gift shop, snacks and wetlands trail.  Contact: 866-517-4837  http://www.tunicariverpark.com/home

 

Basket Bar Dikes/Porter Lake Dikes

If you’re not making a landing at the Tunica Riverpark Museum you can stay RBD and jump behind a long series of beautiful islands along the Porter Lake Dikes and Basket Bar Dikes, with creamy sandbars throughout and thriving colonies of redwing blackbirds, terns and many waterfowl species (in season).  Wilderness camping here is partially ruined by the proximity of the casinos, but only at night time when their stabbing lights flood the skies.   During the daytime you hardly notice their presence, and when on the backsides of the islands you won’t see or hear them.

 

Lost Lake Pass

RBD 693.8

Just below the Basket Bar light you can duck into a steep-walled ravine leading to Lost Lake.  Lost Lake is the all that remains today of the Commerce Cut-Off (see below).  Deep swampy forests full of vines and exotic flowers fill this ravine making it feel like the land of the lost.  Intermittent connection to Lost Lake through a narrow drainage, steep and muddy at low water, passable by canoe/kayak in higher water levels.

 

703 Buck Island (No. 53)

Not to be confused with the other Buck Island (Prairie Point Towhead) located at mile 660 above Helena, Arkansas.   This Buck Island has migrated from right bank to left bank, and although it is firmly planted amidst all of the Tunica County casinos, it is considered Arkansas.   Marion Bragg reported in Historic Names and Places: “John James Audubon wandered over Buck Island in December, 1820, marveling over the large number of ducks, geese, and seagulls he saw in the area.  During the Civil War, Buck Island was the scene of a clever little smuggling operation. Although Union gunboats were constantly patrolling the area, the rebels somehow managed to quietly ferry across 12 wagonloads of arms and ammunition at Buck Island in 1864. By the time Union forces became aware of what was going on, rebels and supplies had all vanished.  In June, 1866 the steamer City of Memphis exploded and burned opposite Buck Island. On her last trip up the river, the big boat had run aground just above Vicksburg, but a high wind and heavy rains had dislodged her from the sandbar and she had hurried on upstream to her doom. Newspapers reported that about 60 people lost their lives in the explosion and fire. The City of Memphis was an old boat at the time of her demise. She had been well-known and extremely popular in her day. In 1858, she had carried so many passengers that a daily newspaper published on board proved to be a successful and lucrative venture.”