The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Life is a great mystery and we are the players.  Who knows where the cycles of life will bring us in the endless spinning of tales and tapestries and flowing of energy.  I have no idea.  But I do know one thing: that wherever you go and whatever you do, you need water.  And rivers carry the only water we can drink, the fresh water which comes springing out of the ground or falling from the sky.  The rivers are the lifeblood of mother earth and one of our basic sustaining elements.  And so when trash our rivers, we are trashing ourselves.  But when we take care of the rivers we are taking care of ourselves.  It’s that simple.  In 1998 I left my indoor life for good and started Quapaw Canoe Company to share the great beauty of the Lower Mississippi River with the world.  Canoes and kayaks are the only reliable way to access the most spectacular places on the river.  And when done right they are also the safest.  They are also the least destructive and the most rewarding.  Paddling is not for everyone.  But even for someone who doesn’t know how to paddle we’ve developed systems to open the river.   This is made possible with the big voyageur canoes we hand-craft at our Clarksdale location.  Thirty foot long canoes carved from Louisiana Bald Cypress using the ancient full belly high end birch bark design of the North Woods Indians via French Fur trappers of the Great Lakes. By applying rigorous standards for safe paddling, the same standards employed by Outward Bound and the Boy Scouts, we have created a means for intimately enjoying the incredible power and beauty of the Lower Mississippi River and return home to our families to share the stories and photos.   And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?  It’s in the sharing with others that these feelings and meanings aren’t lost in subsequent generations of Americans.  So anyway to make a long story short, all of these experiences have led me to where I am now, writing the Rivergator, so another generation of paddlers can safely enjoy the powerful and beautiful waters of the Lower Mississippi, and the vivacious wooded floodplain which it created isn’t completely lost to commerce and industry.  The river which is loved by naturalists will become the classroom for our children.  The river celebrated by painters will become the river of dreams for our youth.  And the river praised by poets will become their spiritual sanctuary alongside our sacred canyons and hallowed parklands.


Tennessee Valley Authority

The Tennessee Valley Authority, a corporation owned by the U.S. government, provides electricity for 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states at prices below the national average. TVA, which receives no taxpayer money and makes no profits, also provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists utilities and state and local governments with economic development.


TVA owns and operates one of the largest and most reliable transmission systems in North America, serving some 9 million residents in an 80,000-square-mile area spanning portions of seven states. TVA’s transmission system moves electric power from the generating plants where it is produced to distributors of TVA power and to industrial and federal customers across the region. Since 2000, the TVA system has delivered 99.999 percent reliability.


TVA, the first utility to build 500,000-volt transmission lines, operates and maintains one of the largest single-owner transmission systems in the United States. Its 16,000 miles of line are enough to span the nation more than six times.  The TVA boasts 16,086 circuit miles of transmission line.  103,485 transmission line structures.  509 power stations and switchyards.  237,000 acres of transmission right-of-way.

(from TVA website)

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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
Memphis to Tunica
736 LBD Memphis, Tennessee, Mud Island Harbor
Buoys and Docks  
Floating Underneath a Bridge  
734.7 Lower Bridges/Engineer’s Bar
734.7 The Frisco Bridge
734.7 The Harahan Bridge
734.7 The Ghost Bunker
734.7 The Old Bridge (Memphis & Arkansas Bridge)
733 President’s Island
Fleeted Barges  
732 LBD Hole in the Wall ##2
727.3 TVA Transmission Lines
727.3 RBD The Wreck of the Raft
Tennessee Valley Authority  
725.5 LBD Entrance to McKellar Lake
7 Miles Up harbor Riverside Park Marina On McKellar Lake  
724 T.E. Maxon Wastewater Treatement Facility
Paddler’s Routes Below Memphis  
727 – 712 Dismal Point/Ensley Bar/Cow Island Bend Area
726 – 717 Armstrong/Dismal Point/Ensley Bar
720 Josie Harry Bar
718 – 713 Cow Island Bend
Goodbye Tennessee, Hullo Mississippi  
The Yazoo-Mississippi Delta and the Blues  
711 – 705 Cat Island No.50
710.8 LBD Starr Landing
712 – 695 Paddler’s Routes Around Cat Island and the Casinos
Pickett Dikes Back Channel  
639.8 RBD Tunica Riverpark Museum Boat Ramp
Tunica Riverpark Museum  
Basket Bar Dikes/Porter lake Dikes  
693.8 RBD Lost Lake Pass
703 Buck Island (No. 53)
701 Gold Strike Casino
700 Fitzgerald’s Casino
Tunica to Helena
700 Basket Bar
Paddler’s Routes Through Commerce and Mhoon Bends  
695 – 690 Commerce Bend
692.5 RBD Peter’s Boat Ramp
690 Rabbit Island
Switching to thhe Helena Gage  
Dikes and Water Levels  
687.5 Mhoon Landing
689 – 685 Mhoon Bar
690 – 683 Mhoon Bend
682 – 679 Whiskey Chute/Walnut Bend
680 Whitehall Crevasse
Paddler’s Routes Below Walnut Bend  
Stumpy Island, Shoo Fly Bar and Tunica Lake  
Main Channel  
677.4 LBD Tunica Runout
Behind Shoo Fly Bar  
Stumpy Island  
Walnut Bend Boat Ramp  
Tunica Lake Boat Ramp  
679 RBD Walnut Bend Boat Ramp
679 – 677 Hardin Cut-Off
677.4 LBD Pass Into Tunica Lake
677 – 676 Shoo Fly Bar
677 – 674 Stumpy Island
674.5 Harbert Point
672 RBD Mouth of the St. Francis River
Primitive Landing at the Mouth of the St. Francis Rive – Conditions  
RBD 3 Miles up St. Francis River Three Mile Ramp
Daytrip: St. Francis to Helena  
St. Francis to Helena: Paddler’s Descriptions  
For Intermedite Paddlers: Right Bank Route  
For Expert Paddlers: Left Bank Route  
St. Francis River  
671 – 673 LBD St. Francis Bar
669 LBD Flower Lake Dikes
668 RBD (A View of) Crowley’s Ridge D
668-663 RBD Buck Island (Prairie Point Towhead)
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  
Helena’s “Low Road” Into St. Francis National Forest  
King Biscuit Blues Festival (2nd Week of October)  
Helena to Friars
661.6 Helena Bridge (Hernando De Soto Bridge – US HWY 49)
663 RBD Leaving Helena Harbor
Fleeted Barges  
Small Towns in Harbors  
Buoys and Other Stationary Objects  
Highlights of Civilization  
Pollution Within the Helena Industrial Reach  
661.6 Helena Bridge (Hernando De Soto Bridge – US HWY 49)
657 LBD  
How to Get Into the Old Entrance of the Yazoo Pass  
LBD: Alternate Route to Vicksburg: Yazoo Pass  
Yazoo Pass Milage  
Rivers & Robert Johnson  
656 LBD East Montezuma Bar
657 – 654 RBD Montezuma Towhead
654.7 LBD Montezuma Landing
Shuttle Route Montezuma to Clarksdale  
652 LBD Friars Point
652.2 LBD Friars Point Landing (Unimproved)
What’s to Come Further Downstream  
Middle Delta 663 – 537 HELENA TO GREENVILLE
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