The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail
What to Pack:
In your vessel be sure to pack bow and stern lines, rescue rope, bailers and sponges, and at least one extra paddle. Bring VHF marine radio if you have. Bring cell phone in waterproof container. Wear clothing appropriate to weather, but also pack (in waterproof drybag or drybox) rain gear, change of clothes, fleece or woolen tops and bottoms. Pack extra food and extra water. Pack at least one gallon of water per person per day during hot seasons. For more reading and a complete description of paddling the Lower Mississippi River, please go to the Safety Page for the Rivergator at: https://www.rivergator.org/paddlers-guide/safety/
All main channel and back channel descriptions, and all islands, points, landings, and all other features will be identified with the mileage system used by the US Army Corps of Engineer Maps and Charts for the Mississippi River. You’ll need two sets of maps for this stretch of river, (1) one for the Middle Miss (St. Louis to Cairo) and (2) another one for the Lower Miss (Cairo downstream). Your easiest method to access charts would be to download them from the web, and print up your own set. In 2014 the unofficial word was that the USACE would not be publishing any more hard copy versions of the Mississippi River charts.
(1) Middle Mississippi River:
The 2011 Upper Mississippi River Navigation Charts include the Middle Mississippi and can be downloaded from:
2011 Upper Mississippi River Navigation Charts
Minneapolis, MN to Cairo, IL
Upper Mississippi River Miles 866 to 0
Minnesota and St. Croix Rivers
For entire Chart Book (PDF file, 142 MB, 340 pages):
For more information, or to order hard copy:
U.S. Army Engineer District, St. Louis
1222 Spruce Street
St. Louis, MO 63103-2835
(314) 331-8095 www.mvs.usace.army.mil
(2) Lower Mississippi River:
2007 USACE Maps can be downloaded (PDF file, 89 MB, 316 pages) from:
For entire Map Book (PDF file, 89 MB, 316 pages):
2007 Flood Control and Navigation Maps
Cairo, Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico
Mile 953 to Mile 0 A.H.P.
Middle Mississippi River Mileage
Mileage on the Middle Mississippi indicates miles above the mouth of the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois, in accordance with the USACE system used on their navigation charts for the Upper Mississippi River. All mileage between St. Louis and the Ohio River is measured on this scale, Fort Defiance/Cairo at mile 0, Dogtooth Island 24, Thebes 44, Cape Girardeau 52, Moccasin Springs (Trail of Tears SP) 67, Grand Tower 81, Rockwood Island 102, Chester 110, Ste. Genevieve 123, Jefferson Barracks Bridge 169, Ead’s Bridge/Great Arch 180, Mosenthien Island 188, Chain of Rocks 190 and Missouri-Mississippi Confluence 196. The mouth of the Ohio River at Cairo Illinois is mile 982 for the Ohio River (up to Pittsburgh).
Left Bank and Right Bank
RBD = Right Bank Descending
LBD = Left Bank Descending
The Rivergator will use the standard left bank descending (LBD) and right bank descending (LBD) to indicate which side of the river the various landings, islands, back channels, and other features are located. Because of the twisty nature of the meandering river “east bank” and “west bank” have little meaning because the river is rarely flowing north to south! Ditto for state names. This section concerns and Arkansas, Mississippi, and some of Tennessee. But because of the dynamic power of the river there are pieces of each state on both sides of the river! We’ll also use “left bank” and “right bank” or “left shore” and “right shore” to denote the same.