The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

St Louis to Cairo

97 - 95 LBD Jones Towhead

Braxton Barden and Mark River camped on Jones Towhead in low water, Nov 2014, and made this report: Following the Liberty Bar archipelago is Jones Towhead.  The tip of the towhead is separated from the main island even during low water conditions.  This isolated top portion of the island is an ideal camping spot during deer hunting season.  This small piece of the island contains willow trees and little to no cover for deer which does not appeal to hunters.  If the tip of the island is too far from the main channel, check the channel between the tip and the main portion.  This channel will remain open even during the lowest of water conditions.  Once you work your way around the island there are old pylons to navigate through prior to coming back around to the top portion of the island.  Keep in mind during a falling river that if you barely make it through on the way, you will probably not make it out the next day without a portage.  After breaking camp, you can paddle back out to the main channel or explore the backchannel of Jones Towhead.  The backchannel is deep and remains open in all but extreme low water conditions.  As with any foray into a backchannel, be prepared to portage.  The backchannel of Jones Towhead provides a nice break from main channel paddling.  With the exception of the rocks placed by the Corps of Engineers, you will experience a beautiful backchannel full of wildlife and steep muddy banks. (Braxton Barden)


The temperature is dropping so paddling is the best way to beat the cold and wet. We paddle past Rockwood Island headed for Liberty Bar and Jones Towhead.  Even though it rained all day, the trees and bluffs were full of bald eagles. They produced thirteen sightings and made me deal with the elements better watching how nonchalantly the eagles handled the weather. During low water the top of the island  is a big sandbar with a substantial distant to the trees. If you continue to the bottom, there is a back channel that allows entry to the same sandbars. There's a old revetment dike, made of wood, that you can float over and  enter. A small island, but lots of wildlife.A good place to camp to get away from the north wind. A large beaver the size of a small bear cub greeted us. A lone buck scampered up the cut bank. He was bedded down waiting out the hunting season.  The back channel also has some type of wreck expose in the cut bank left bank descending along the back channel. Some very old woodworking structures. (Mark River)


96 RBD Roman Landing

Roman Bar is an all-weather campsite of note, a tall bluff of sand thrown into the woods, with protected camping up to high water 26ChG.


94.5 RBD Cinque L’Homme Creek

Below Cinque L’Homme Creek the river makes one of my favorite runs down the dancing ridge line of the Missouri Ozarks on the right, and flood plain on the left, running eastward toward Fountain Bluff. The right bank bluffs are a roller coaster ridge capped by maples, catalpas, oaks, ashes, beeches & sycamores of the woodlands region, a band of white limestone cliffs with caves crevasses and cracks, jumbles of boulders, deep ravines with steep rocky sides, springs & seeps & waterfalls, meanwhile down below the big belly of mother Mississippi flowing proudly, serenely & strongly down hallways of bluffs & ridges, striking mounds & mountains of rock & forest somehow sub-tropical in shape, subtly feeling more southern in the columns of ridges. A German poet I once guided through this section excitedly exclaimed “its starting to look like the Amazon!”


94.3 RBD Red Rock Landing Conservation Area

Red Rock Landing Conservation Area is on the Mississippi River in Perry County and consists of 554 acres and includes approximately one mile of Mississippi River frontage and one-half-mile of Cinque Hommes Creek frontage. The conservation area contains seven ponds, totally about five acres. The area also contains 419 acres of timber, 60 acres of unprotected bottomland fields, and 70 acres of upland fields. The Conservation Department purchased this property in November 1994 primarily for use as a public fishing access. The area has some of the best remaining riparian habitat in this reach of the Mississippi River. The frontage has good water depth and instream cover that provides excellent bank fishing for catfish, and other big river species.

The area forest is managed to improve tree growth, quality, and species composition. There is a camping area which has 3 defined campsites with fire rings, picnic tables, BBQ grills, and gravel pads, as well as hiking trails. Due to changeable river levels, the conservation area is inaccessible by road when the Mississippi River level is over 20 feet on the Chester gauge.


93 - 88.5 LBD Wilkinson Island Middle Miss NWR

The 2,532-acre Wilkinson Island Division is the largest and southernmost division of the Middle Miss National Wildlife Refuge. It is located 37 miles north of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in Jackson County, Illinois, and Perry County, Missouri (River Miles 88.5-93 left descending). Wilkinson Island was protected by a levee that was breached during the 1993 flood and has not been repaired. The Service plans to plant nut-bearing trees on higher elevations and may reconnect the remnant side channel to the river.


90 RBD Seventy-Six Conservation Area and boat access

The Mississippi River community of Seventy-Six was located on the present-site of the Seventy-Six Conservation Department. By the 1950s depopulation and flooding had reduced the community to a handful. Today, nothing remains of the former community.


The area contains steep forested hills, deep hollows and narrow ridge fields. In total, the conservation area consists of 746 acres. The forested track contains hardwood forest, including oaks, tulip poplars and other species, including a number of majestic old growth. The forest tract has several sinkholes and springs and offers scenic vistas overlooking the Mississippi River Valley. Steep rock bluffs run along the area for approximately two miles. Seventy-Six Conservation Area is being used as a demonstration area for forest and wildlife management techniques, which produces forage and cover for many species of wildlife. In addition, The Conservation Department has planted 50 acres of crop and food plots for wildlife, native warm-season grasses and legumes to provide additional food sources for wildlife. There is also another 200 acres of non-prairie grassland. A trail is available for visitors to view these forest and wildlife management practices. The area boasts good populations of catfish, crappie, rough fish such as buffalo and carp, along with white bass and sauger. The Conservation Department is currently constructing a boat ramp at the Seventy-Six town site. When finished, it will be possible to launch a boat from Missouri, cross the river, and land in Missouri on the opposite shore.


The Seventy-Six Conservation Area is located in eastern Perry County, Missouri, at the end of Route D, approximately four miles northeast of Brazeau. The Missouri Conservation Department created this area in 1990 with the purchase of an 818-acre farm from a private landowner.