The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

LBD 725.5 Entrance to McKellar Lake

Watch for towboat traffic coming in and out of McKellar Lake Memphis Industrial Harbor, as well as workboats, crew boats and fleeted barges.  Unless you purposely intend to access the harbor the fastest water and most interesting forests and islands are found along the right bank and behind Ensley Bar/Dismal Point Dikes.


7 miles up harbor Riverside Park Marina on McKellar Lake

There are very few public places in the Memphis area to access the Mississippi River.  In fact there are exactly four.  Two are downtown, one above town, and one below town, here within McKellar Lake.  However you are faced with a seven mile flat water paddle to get there!  Boat Ramp at the legendary Riverside Park Marina.  This route is not recommended except of course in emergencies, or if you just want to get a close inspection of the inner workings of the Memphis Industrial Complex.   The marina website states the following: “Riverside Park Marina on McKellar Lake has provided emergency and routine services for vessels on the Mississippi River 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for over 50 years. Owner Larry Pop Stanley and wife Rita are proud of this tradition of public service. 1875 McKellar Lake Dr. Memphis, TN 38109 (901) 946-2000”  For more information go to:


724 T.E. Maxson Wastewater Treatment Facility

If you are paddling past the mouth of the McKellar Lake Harbor and staying left bank at low water you might notice a roaring whitewater feature charging into the Mississippi through a deep rip-rap culvert. This is the outlet of the Lower Water Treatment Facility for the City of Memphis.  At medium water it becomes a slurry of frothy commotion you’ll want to observe from a safe (and sanitary) distance.   At high-water it gets completely submerged, you won’t see any evidence, but you will still clearly smell it.


According to a City of Memphis Report, The T.E. Maxson Facility treats an average of 70 million gallons per day of wastewater under NPDES Permit #TN0020729. The T.E. Maxson Facility is located at 2685 Steam Plant Road and began operation in 1975. It has gone through a series of major changes over the years. The treatment regime currently consists of coarse bar screens, grit removal, fine bar screens and primary treatment followed by high rate trickling filters, conventional activated sludge, and secondary clarification. Treated wastewater is discharged into the Mississippi River. The primary and waste activated sludge is sent to a covered lagoon system for anaerobic digestion. The digested sludge is dewatered with belt filter presses and the dewatered sludge cake is land applied on-site. The biogas generated by the covered lagoon system is both sold to a nearby utility and flared. (City of Memphis Report)


Paddler’s Routes below Memphis

Dismal Point/Ensley Bar/Cow Island Bend Area Miles 727-712

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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