The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

689-685 Mhoon Bar

You can find good camping on Mhoon Bar (at the inside of Mhoon Bend) at almost any water level up to flood stage.  At low and medium water levels camp anywhere you see a good spot around the entire four-mile perimeter.  In high water the choices narrow to the last prominent hump of sand (near RBD 686) makes a terrific campsite with mature willows, cottonwoods and sycamores standing tall above for protection.  At high water you can cut the corner by staying tight bank right as you exit Peter’s Bend (the bend above Mhoon Bar), and swirling around the last big eddy at Ashley Point, and then following the receding line of trees downstream.  This will cut several miles off your distance, and also bring you close to the wildlife.  Watch sharp for bankside beaver and treetop bald eagles (which are known to nest in this area).   Paddle behind the isolated hump of mature trees (described above) which becomes a separate island at higher water levels, and then return to main channel.


690-683 Mhoon Bend

Leaving Mhoon Landing the downstream paddler riding the outside of the bend needs to be wary of a very turbulent eddy about a mile and half downstream near LBD 686.5. Below medium water you will see a lot of fresh rip rap where the Army Corps has been trying to stabilize this gnarly place.  Ride the channel side of the eddy for a dizzying look at the exploding boils whirlpools and the ricochet speed eddy revolving fast upstream.  Locals know this raucous water feature as the “Whirlpool” and it is reputed to be the scene of more than one river drama.  I personally got the nose of my canoe stuck in the top end of this place and almost got flipped over when we re-entered the fast main channel.  In the front of my canoe was a Seattle reporter getting a ride he was not expecting on the misnamed “Old Man River!”  At the height of the 2011 flood the Mississippi River tore over the banks along Mhoon Bend upending trees and houses and went roaring through the woods to spill back over into Tunica Lake, which is a couple of miles south.  Tunica Lake swelled accordingly with muddy brown water and flooded every house in the collection of fishing and hunting camps located on its northeast corner.  This Tunica Lake Community is a lively enclave of rednecks and river rats who fondly call themselves “The Cutoff.”  The resilient Cutoff folks rebuilt after the flood, some adding a little elevation to what they had before 2011, and others throwing all care to the wind and rebuilding exactly the same.  In modern times, there has been some local effort to refer to the Cutoff as “Tunica Lake” since it sounds more dignified, and the “Cutoff” had gotten a bit of a bad name as a place where non locals hung out – many to drink and carry on.


682-679 Whiskey Chute/Walnut Bend

The main channel slows down momentarily as it exits Mhoon Bend and slides into Whiskey Chute where the banks open up to almost a mile wide.  It’s a lovely piece of river with tall trees on either side.   Your best route of descent is staying with the current left bank past a series of dikes at the top end LBD of Walnut Bend.   At low water pristine pools (blue holes) of clear water are formed in the downstream side of the topmost dikes.   Sometimes these blue holes grow to the size of an Olympic swim pool, and are filled with delightful dancing blueish/greenish water.  Other times they become diminished with murky green-black water and mud slip bottoms inhabited by turtles and minnows and who knows what else.  As you get deep in the bend you can hug the inside LBD and cut the corner (where excellent low/med water camping can be found, but none at high water).  Or you can go wide with the fastest water, and get the slingshot treatment as the river pushes you outwards with centrifugal force and you quickly find yourself on the opposite shore.  Not a good time or place to meet an upstream towboat!  The turbulent waters here are known to respond exponentially with the passage of upstream tows.  I remember paddling with a Chattahoochee River guide in one of my big 26 foot long voyageur canoes into some choppy tall waves being ejected in the outwash of a big upriver tow at this place.  This guide is a friend of mine and he still laughs at the experience.  He was not expecting waves on the Mississippi.  The 3-screw tow passed up into Walnut Bend and on purpose we entered the wave train skyrocketing downstream behind his tail in a series of tall standing waves that were more tight than usual in formation.  Some of the waves were breaking by the time we got to the highest and darkest swells in this series.  My friend’s eyes got big.  And then he stopped paddling, maybe out of some reflex of self-preservation.  In shock he put his paddle down and held onto the gunnels of the canoe as the bow rose six, seven, maybe eight feet above the stern, and then clapped downwards with a mighty splash that rolled over the waist of the bow paddler and wetted the first three rows of paddlers behind.  It was my friend’s first time on the Mississippi and he has been hooked since! 

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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