The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Tunica to Helena

Dikes and Water Levels

In the Tunica-Helena-Clarksdale area you can use the following scale to gauge water flowing over dikes, although some dikes vary in height.  Also some have been “notched” in recent years as result there will be a middle notch that you can paddle through at much lower levels of water, some places down to 10 on the Helena Gauge.

 

Dike exposure using the Helena Gauge:

10-17HG water flowing through notches only

18HG rocks still exposed on all dikes 

18-22 dikes starting to go under, some flow through breaks & low spots

23 dikes completely under, but little flow

25-29HG good flow and lots of boils & turbulence

30HG strong flow, turbulence, no dikes exposed anywhere

35HG river bank full

>44HG Flood Stage.

 

Warning: above 44 MG paddlers are advised to stay off the river.  Limited access.  Most landings and approach roads will be underwater.  Most islands will be gone.  No easy camping.  All sandbars will be covered.  Fast waters with many hazards.  All islands and landings will be surrounded by flooded forests full of snags, strainers, sawyers and all other dangerous conditions associated with floodwater moving through trees.  Docks, wharves, dikes and any other man-made objects will create strong whirlpools, violent boils, and fast eddies.  Towboats will create large waves.  The Rivergator will not describe the river and its islands at any levels above flood stage.

 

687.5 Mhoon Landing

Rough revetment landing with paved access to Tunica and Highway 61.  Popular party spot.  Don’t leave your vehicle overnight.  County park just beyond with bathrooms.  Possible camping, but expect company, usually of the friendly sort.  Ten mile walk into town.  If you need to resupply Helena is your best option, 25 miles downstream.  Landing bottoms out in low water.  Parking lot goes under at flood stage.

 

Mhoon Landing is the location of the infamous Splash Casino, the pioneer Tunica County establishment that charged $10 just to enter and game, and had three hour waiting lines when it first opened!  Such was the raving popularity for gaming amongst the “live like there’s no tomorrow” Delta crowd!  Gambling has a long tradition on the river that spans many generations and enjoyed its heyday in the Steamboatin’ era when every paddle wheeler boarded hucksters, gamers, charlatans, and tricksters of every sort.  This lifestyle is detailed in Herman Melville’s little-known novel The Confidence Man, of which list of characters displays if nothing else the amazing variety of people connected by the waters of the big river, here including the mute, the man with the weed, the gentleman with gold sleeve-buttons, the charitable lady, the unfortunate man, the man with the traveling-cap, the old miser, the sick man, the Herb-Doctor, the soldier of fortune, the one who may be remembered, the hard case, the Tusculan, the Missourian, the philanthropist, the misanthrope, the China Aster, the Cosmopolitan, the man of questionable morality, the Press, the mystical master, the disciple, and many others (caps from Melville).