The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Helena Boat Ramps

There are two landings in the Helena Harbor.  Both are located near the top end of the harbor, one on each side.  You can use either one, but in general the one to the West is more usable at low-med water levels.  It’s less muddy, better maintained, less steep — and much wider.  But it is also further away from town and sometimes busy with unfriendly fishermen and other motorized vessels who aren’t always courteous to paddlers.  Also the East Ramp goes completely underwater and the access road is closed at 40 HG.   At high water levels you will have to make landing on the West Ramp.


If you are making a short foray into downtown Helena you might want to pull over to the East Ramp, the one closest to the downtown levee.  It’s narrow, short, steep and often gooey with the famous sticky & stinky mud of the Lower Miss, but at least you won’t have to elbow your way in through motorized traffic, and it’s a quick walk over the levee to town.  There is talk in Helena about expanding this ramp specifically to accommodate paddlers.  Helena’s Strategic Plan identifies the need to become better oriented towards eco-tourists like hikers, bikers and paddlers.  With some simple implementation Helena could become the paddler’s destination on the Lower Mississippi, and improving this ramp would be a giant step in the right direction.  Historic Cherry Street runs north to south parallel and directly behind the levee, and the Delta Cultural Center is the first building you’ll see and want to visit.  Be sure to hide or safeguard your canoe or kayak!  Carry any valuables with you!


On the other hand the best vehicle access is the West Ramp.  If you are starting or ending your journey here and someone is dropping you off (or picking you up), drive to the West Ramp (via Perry street through the Helena River Park).  If you plan to stay longer and camp, or are concerned about over-night security, the local police are directed to close a security gate to the access road (for cars) after mid-night.  Call (870) 338-5555.


663 RBD Helena-West Helena

Mark Twain said that Helena occupies “the prettiest situations on the Mississippi River…”  Twain should have also added: “and the driest…”  Thanks to Crowley’s Ridge Helena has the distinction of being the only remaining population of any size to be found directly on the main channel in between Memphis & Vicksburg, some 300 miles of river.  This fact in of itself deserves special attention.  Other locales such as Rosedale, Greenville and Arkansas City that used to be “sho-nuf” river towns sitting right on the banks of the main channel and serviced by water vessels have been abandoned by the unstoppable shifting nature of the big river.  Crowley’s Ridge provides Helena high ground and squeezes the river enough that you can still walk over the levee from downtown Cherry Street and watch towboats go sailing by, stick your toes in the water, and board your canoe.  The American Queen Steamboat will resume passage in spring 2012 with stops here. 

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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