The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

711-705 Cat Island No. 50

Cat Island is the biggest and wildest Island in this stretch of river boasting deep hardwood forests, willow/cottonwood flats, wild floodplain fields, and miles upon miles of sandbars and (at low/med water) gravel bars.  Supreme camping found surrounding the island on all sides, pick and choose locations depending on water level.  This giant island commands 6 miles of the main channel of the river.  High ground top end running southeast.  Unusual stand of eastern cedars along east bank.  Extensive gravel bars top end at low water, sandbars bottom end.  Back channel opens above 15MG in medium water, but dangerous falls throughout.  Best to avoid until 25MG high water when there is good flow and no obstacles or dead water places.  Secret channel at bottom of island makes a short crossing through lively woods full of birds and animals. 


LBD 710.8 Starr Landing

Concrete ramp descending to river over rip rap.  Spacious parking.  Sometimes called Norfolk, or Star, or DeSoto Landing.  First possible landing below Memphis (approx. 25 miles below Mud Island).  Trashy, rough and ragged place.  Never leave a vehicle here.  Nice 10-mile daytrip from here to Tunica Riverpark Museum Landing.


712-695 Paddler’s Routes around Cat Island and the Casinos


You can stay main channel around Cat Island and down the gauntlet of casinos, but you are in for a long straight stretch, 10 miles into the southwest, that can be stultifying on a hot & hazy day, and downright excruciating in a head-wind.  If the river’s high enough, follow some of the back channel options for better scenery and possible protection from the wind.  This unusually long stretch of rectilinear river is result of several major cutoffs.  Two classic oxbow lakes were created with the cutoffs, today known as Horseshoe and Council Lakes.  See Google satellite for a full appreciation of what the river channel looked like a couple of centuries ago.  (Note: we won’t recommend any gambling along the route save deciding whether to follow some back channel routes and taking the risk of a low dike crossing with questionable water flow!)


Main Channel:

At low water (as depicted here on Google satellite) the main channel is a gently meandering route between the levees and long stands of trees.  Line shows fastest water.  At higher water levels this line straightens out, and at flood stage you could pick a direction of the compass and follow it successfully one end to the other! 


Cat Island Back Channel

High water only.  Avoid at medium water for dead water areas and several dangerous dike waterfalls.  Not possible in low water.  During high water this becomes a delightful shortcut and alternative to the main channel.

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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