The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Appendix

Rivergator Appendix II

Paddling on the Yazoo River above Vicksburg

By Layne Logue & John Ruskey

 

Yazoo River

King’s Ferry Landing to Vicksburg

 

Paddlers on canoes, kayaks or stand up paddleboards can follow the Yazoo River out of the Mississippi Delta to where it ends at the Loess Bluffs of Vicksburg.  Known as the “River of Death” the Yazoo River was once populated by Quapaws, Choctaws, and others, and still is a vital route for commerce and transportation.  Today the Yazoo inhabits the Civil War channel of the Mississippi through downtown Vicksburg, and yields the best possible view of the battlefields.  The Yazoo drains the Mississippi Delta and the Mississippi Hill Country.  More blues musicians were born and raised along its banks (and tributaries) than probably any other river in the world!

 

This 5.1 mile paddle is a very easy day trip for the beginner paddler.  It can range from 2 to 4 hours, depending on how much exploring and floating you want to do.  The Yazoo River banks are wooded along the route, and the main channel is free of debris and very easy to navigate.  Paddlers are likely to encounter wildlife such as beaver, gar, asian carp (jumping fish), turtles and sometimes gators.   This area is a paradise for birders and is always flush with waders like herons, egrets, pelicans and many others.  During the spring migration the songbirds fill the woods with their beautiful songs.  Late in the evening the whitetail deer come out on the top bank looking for food and bear are occasionally spotted.  Gar are constantly swimming up to the surface as opportunistic feeders.  When you sneak up on them they take-off like a rocket!  There is one nice sandbar halfway along the route (near the mouth of the Centennial Lake Chute mile 2.8).  This sandbar disappears when the river rises above 20NG.   Otherwise there are no other sandbars or attractive places for paddlers to stop until you reach the Vicksburg waterfront.

 

Custom Google Map

 

For best understanding and appreciation of King’s Ferry Landing to Vicksburg, use Custom Google Map http://goo.gl/maps/kl2mb for this route.

 

River Levels:

 

Water levels on this section of the Yazoo are dependent on the Mississippi (only 7 miles downstream) so it’s best to use the Mississippi River Gage at Vicksburg to determine conditions on the Yazoo.  Sometimes the Yazoo has strong flow, but sometimes it is still as a lake, and sometimes it is flowing backwards! (in a strong Mississippi rise).  


Go to USGS Gage:

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/uv?07289000

 

Or use the Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center:

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/lmrfc/?n=lmrfc-mississippiandohioriverforecast

 

Low Water is 0-20 on the Vicksburg Gage (NG).  Sandbars and mudbars will all be exposed, but no access to any backwater places (like Centennial Lake). The Yazoo will probably have some flow.  Medium water is 20-30NG.  Only some sand and mud exposed.  The Yazoo might be flowing, but it might not be flowing.  (Depends on the amount of precipitation upstream and whether the Mississippi is rising or falling).  During High water 30-43NG the Yazoo will probably be flatwater.  At +30NG, there are almost no places to stop except for the put-ins and take-outs (without paddling through the trees and looking for dry ground).   At flood stage (43NG or above) all of the forests will be flooded and the Yazoo will be a stillwater paddle.

 

Don’t Forget to Pack:

 

Life jacket, extra paddle, water bottle, snacks, bug spray, sun screen, wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses,1st Aid kit, emergency gear, cell phone (in zip lock bag), rubber barn boots, sponges and bailers, extra rope, extra food and water, fire starter, camera and rain gear.  Dress for the weather and pack everything into drybags, plastic tubs or garbage sacks.

 

Hunting Season

 

During whitetail deer hunting season (Oct-Jan), there are deer camps on the right bank. Do not venture into the woods during these times.  For best protection wear orange cap or vest over your life jacket.

 

King's Ferry Landing

32.400482, 90.923549

(Latitude: 32°24'2.06N, Longitude: 90°55'25.13W)

 

The boat ramp/Ferry Landing is in good condition (small rock & dirt) for boat launch, but paddlers will have to time their entry in timing with the King’s Ferry which operates every day from 6am-6pm.  Parking okay during these operating hours but don’t leave vehicle overnight.

 

Directions from Vicksburg: The King's Ferry Landing is located off of Old Highway 61 (Business 61) to Haining Road to Long Lake Road and finally to King’s Point Ferry Road.   There is a large metal sign on Haining Road that states “King’s Ferry Landing.”  King’s Point Ferry Road has 4 miles of good gravel road (cars without 4-wheel drive will have no problem).