The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Tunica to Helena

669 LBD Flower Lake Dikes

Above 20HG (medium water) you can paddle behind several narrow islands found on the Mississippi shoreline left bank descending which are formed over the St. Francis and Flower Lake Dikes.  Stay LBD and paddle hard to cut into the narrow openings leading behind these islands for reprieve from the wind and towboat traffic and gain some relief from the vast & sometimes overwhelming “hugeness” of the main channel.  Simultaneously enjoy some close up views of wildlife and the forests found in this area.  Possible camping on dunes which accumulate on these islands, especially at the bottom end of the Flower Lake Dikes Island, near Mile 668.  Only accessible during Medium to High Water.  During Low Water a tall rip-rap rock dike emerges which forms a solid wall almost a mile long, and this prevents paddlers from reaching the Mississippi LBD shore.  However, at the end of this long rock wall you can eddy around the backside and gain landing in a completely protected harbor formed by the same wall.  Landing here is possible for a picnic, rest, or a creative campsite within this strange & inspiring river-scape.

 

668 RB (a view of) Crowley’s Ridge D

As you are approaching the top end of Buck Island you will be welcomed to the area with a grand view of Crowley’s Ridge.  Helena is located at the Southern end of Crowley’s Ridge, “Where the Ridge meets the River” (still 7 miles downstream).  Crowley’s Ridge is something of a geographic anomaly in an otherwise pancake flat floodplain.  In geologic history the Mississippi once flowed on the other side of the ridge, the western side, and the Ohio commanded the eastern.  They didn’t meet until downstream somewhere near present-day Vicksburg.  St. Francis National Forest, the smallest forest in the National Forest system, straddles the last 30 miles of the ridge, and protects this strange landscape of steep ridges and viney tangled bottoms.  Crowley’s Ridge runs north all the way up to the Missouri Ozarks, and provides high ground for the cities Marianna, Forest City and Jonesboro; and for the paddler  significantly so at its southern terminus where sits the happy & dry city of Helena (as described more in full below)

 

668-663 RBD Buck Island (Prairie Point Towhead)

Buck Island was saved from auction block by the American Land Conservancy in 2008 and is now protected by a permanent wetlands easement through the NRCS, which means that it will never be forested again, and our children will one day enjoy the big woods that used to predominate in the Mississippi Valley.  Now managed by Arkansas Game & Fish, you can camp or picnic here, and fish and (in season).