Rivergator Appendix XI:
Dave & Linnea on the Atchafalaya
Note: Linnea Godderstad and Dave Blomquist paddled the Mississippi in 2013, and chose the Atchafalaya Route to the Gulf of Mexico, hereby described:
Night before the Atchafalaya: Mississippi LDB 304. We camped on Shreve’s Bar, a sandbar island on the left side of the main channel of the Mississippi right across from the confluence with the Old River. Not a great place to be in a surprise thunderstorm, as we learned.
The next morning we pulled up to the Old River lock. The lockmaster was unresponsive to our radio requests. There's a boat ramp to the left of the lock that we got out on to find the lockmaster, who only pulled up on a bicycle when a tow showed up. He let the tow go in front of us then let us through with the next tow. Note to paddlers it can take a long time to get through this lock, even (especially?) if there's not too much traffic.
Night 1: LDB 14 After the town of Simmesport the river runs almost straight S for about 10 miles, then curves R/west suddenly. There are sandbars on both sides of the river around these curves. We camped on the LDB just after the first westward curve on a pretty steep bank. There are cows on the R side. Both sides seemed like farmland, so we're guessing this site is probably on private property. Got this campsite location from Andy Bugh.
Night 2: Atchafalaya campground, RDB 49 The campground and its boat ramp (Perry's Landing) is marked on the LSU Basin map you recommended we get. The campground boat ramp is just a few miles past Krotz Springs on the RDB. The river is running SE as it passes Krotz Springs, then curves sharply R/W, then curves L/SSE again. The campground boat ramp is just at the end of this L curve. The campground manager is Tammy Stoute, and she and owner Bob Perry are very paddler-friendly. Water, outlets available, but stores in Krotz Springs are 2 miles or so away. Odds are someone at the campground would drive you, but I guess that can't be guaranteed. They were incredibly generous to us -- they fed us and gave us an incredible amount of beer and food for free and didn't charge us for camping there.
Side note on resupply: Krotz Springs was the only town we tried to get into on our own from the water and we didn't make it -- it's pretty inaccessible. It's a long walk from the boat ramp below town to any stores, and I'm not even sure that ramp is public. Never tried to go to any other towns, so that's the only one I have knowledge of. Luckily we were good on food, the only thing we needed to resupply was whiskey, which luckily Tammy's son Trent was able to drive us into town to procure.
Night 3: Around LDB 77 This spot is just after the confluence where the old river back channel that goes past Butte La Rose comes back in to the dredged and maintained channel. This was a spot that was mowed and relatively brush free because there was an underwater gas pipeline running under it. This was at least the 2nd mowed pipeline crossing after the old river channel confluence, we skipped at least one pipeline where the bank was too muddy to get out. This spot had enough small tree root networks reaching down the bank to keep feet from sinking in too much. This spot was unpleasant, muddy and buggy. Since this was land above a gas line we assumed it wasn't residential private property.
Night 4: RDB 104 This sandbar is on the big point just after the entrance to Sixmile Lake and just between the part of the main channel labeled Grand Lake and the part labeled Cypress Pass. (Note: part of the main channel after Cypress Pass is also called Sixmile. That's not the one I'm talking about.) This was a great spot. It seems like it's a neighborhood party spot, as evidenced by the grill someone left there and the beer cans. If it is private property, the owner doesn't seem to care too much about people being there, especially because I think it's the sandbar another paddler, Andy Bugh, said locals recommended he stay at because it's a local swimming spot a lot of people go to. It's only about 15 miles from Morgan City, and it's maybe the only sandbar we saw on the entire lower half of the river when we came through.
Backchannels: We were excited to be done so the only backchannels we took were on the very last day. The first backchannel cuts right of the big island on the right side of the main channel just after Cypress Pass and at the beginning of the other Sixmile Lake. The second one was a narrow back channel in the next network of islands between Little Island Pass and Riverside Pass. Both of these were great. Lots of gators, camps, white flowers, orange flowers and those purplish birds that look like herons. As the backchannels come back into the main channel at Three Island Pass, on the right side there are some really cool barge wrecks. They're visible on Google Maps if you want their location.
The end: We took out at the boat ramp in Berwick Bay (RDB). It's after two road bridges and 300 feet feet after the railroad bridge in a small harbor.
Side note about the river: A few people warned us about how bad the eddies are on the Atchafalaya. Everything we saw was tamer than the Mississippi. So I'm not sure what that's about. The current was about the same as the Mississippi for the first half of the river and then began slowing down more and more the closer we got to the Gulf. By the time we were almost to Morgan City (maybe 15 miles away?) the current was near zero.