The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

In the heat of the summer an open bar camp can be a decided advantage as you lay sweltering in your tent surrounded by thick swarms of mosquitoes.  Wide open bars like Buck Island are subject to the best breezes.  If there are no oncoming storms and the sun is low enough to comfortably set camp without getting burned, you might locate camp far from the trees on an open beach.  The mosquitoes live in the trees, and don’t usually come out until after dark.  The slightest breeze will help keep them down and keep you cool as the roasting sand off vents from the heat of the day.


On the other hand, open bars become broiling pans in the direct light of the sun, and as noted are subject to the whims of the weather.  Perhaps the best combination to look for is the place where a thin line of trees extends across a dune extending out of the forest outwards towards the shoreline of any island, or similar attribute of the island that creates a thin line of trees.  It might be at the end of an island which is collapsing into the river.  There you will find protection if you need it, shade from the sun, shelter from the wind, but also the ability to easily set your tent on top of a ridge or dune for the best breezes when they are blowing gently.  Another possibility to keep in mind here is the hammock.  Strung between two medium sized or larger trees atop a dune you will feel like you have landed in the Yucatan Peninsula and will sleep like a baby in the gentle breezes blowing off the waters.  The rustling of cottonwood leaves or the gentle swaying of the fragrant willow completes this scene of paradise in the middle of America!


There are two small isolated splinter islands on the top end of Buck Island at Mile 668 that have formed around the dikes RBD that paddlers in the area have named “The Fawns.”  Around its Eastern circumference (at Mile 666 — opposite Trotter’s) a larger splinter island named “Doe Island” is found with a medium sized channel separating it from Buck.  This mid-island channel is closed off until the river rises above 17 HG.  Above 35 HG Doe goes completely underwater.  Located at the bottom end of Doe is a favorite campsite on a prominent peninsula with an inlet behind that local paddlers refer to as “Tip-o-Doe!”


At low water the sandbars of Buck Island extend completely around its outside edge, broken here and there by a mud bar or an isolated inlet.  As the water rises the bars quickly go under, first from its bottom end and in the back channel, then the sides and finally the entire top end.  At 35 HG there is no more sand to be found anywhere around Buck Island, but the woods are still dry.  In the winter, when the snakes are hibernating and the mosquitoes are gone, you can find good campsites within the forests of Buck Island — that is until the river rises above flood stage (44HG).  However in the warmer months be ready for clouds of voracious mosquitoes, thick poison ivy, and a healthy snake population.

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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