The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Natchez to St. Francisville

304 RBD Carr Point

Directly above the opening to the Old River Lock and Dam a beautiful flat bluff of sand is found RBD with enough room for a comfy campsite in an unusual location.  You might not find much peace here from all of the passing towboats, but you will have a safe and beautiful campsite.

 

302.8 RBD Torras Landing

A giant bluff of sand is thrown high up the riverbank and into the trees behind at Torras Landing making a good camp at high water, and shelter from any westerly weather, but the proximity to the Lock and Dam will also mean a lot of towboat attention.

 

302.5 - 298 LBD Hog Point Sandbar

Extensive beaches a mile wide and four miles long accompany you left bank descending (at low water) against the Angola shores along the southwest side of the giant round bend curling around Angola State Pen.  As the water rises the beaches grow smaller, but there is still lots of sand through medium water.  At high water, the choices become limited to the high points punctuated with stands of willows, the best option being Hog Point Towhead.

 

299 - 298 LBD Hog Point Towhead

Hog Point Towhead, a bony ridge rising high above the main channel making a natural levee and ideal placement for voyageur tents and hammocks.  Behind the tall sandy edge a promenade like a Greek entrance hall leads downwards at a slight angle into a chapel of willows, where the spirit of god can be felt close at hand.  Every Mississippi River island hosts such a chapel.  Walk in through the chapel doors, a couple of willows at odd angles, and everything immediately changes as dramatically as walking through the giant oak carved doors of the Notre Dame.  Suddenly the light changes, and the sounds of the river, the cold wind, or the hot sun immediately loses its power.  Here you want to walk softly and respectfully.  You are walking in the home of the great spirit, the songbird chorus is its choir, and the hushed atmosphere its hymn, and the artfully placed pile of driftwood its pulpit.  And you can become one of the congregation, along with the spiders, crickets and katydids, and all of the songbirds and amphibians that also find refuge here.  They will welcome you and make you feel at home and at one with the spirit.

 

This willow-covered Island is the highest stand of trees along Hog Point Dikes and Sandbar, and will be the only possible stop place you find above 35NG.  A portion  of the top end stays dry up to 48NG.   As result Hog Point is best for low and medium water camping.  If the river is above 40NG you can also look for landing on Miles Bar, which is across the main channel directly opposite, or in a nice alcove three miles downstream (RBD 295.5).

300.2 - 298 RBD Miles Bar Towhead

Miles Bar and Hog Point belly up against each other side-by-side like Gemini the Twins (rising in the fall evening sky near Orion), and are separated only by the main channel of the big river.   In general Hog Point Towhead will be the best camping, but if the winds are blowing hard out of the west and the river is high, you might want to opt for Miles.  It is surrounded by mountains of rip-rap along its steep banks, but the very bottom end is accessible by cutting back up into it once beyond the last line of rip-rap.  If the water is high (above 40NG) you can reach the sandy top without having to cross over the rocks.

 

Waves of refreshment wash over us paddlers when we discover a lacerated river.  Even here on the big river, the biggest and most worked over river in North America, we love the multi-channeled river.   The braided channel is healthier than the single channel river, because it makes more connections to the surrounding landscape, and refreshens and regenerates the water as it flows downstream towards the Gulf.  At the same time it creates more islands, and more places to explore behind the islands.  Beavers love the braided channel because of the expanses of willows (their favorite food), and waterfowl because of the exponential increase in wetlands.  Paddlers are like the beaver, we like more water, not less.  And we’re like the waterfowl, we like to explore the wetlands.

 

297 RBD Raccourci Runout/Monday Lake

If you enter the wild 5 mile journey through the bottomland hardwood forest to reach Monday Lake at Raccourci you will be well rewarded with deer, turtles, beaver, fish, birds and many other creatures.   But you might have a lot of trouble getting back out!  Don’t enter when the river is in a fast rise (of more than a foot a day over a week).   Best explored when the river is steady, or only slightly rising or falling.  If you go in to Raccourci during a fast rise, the fast currents will carry you very swiftly to the lake, with turbulent conditions, snags and sawyers and other obstructions.  As result you will have to paddle very, very hard back upstream 5 miles all the way back to the big river!

 

295.5 RBD Leatherman Point

A big beautiful protected sand bar is found 1/2 mile above the Leatherman Point light 295.0 RBD which features a large semi-circular bluff of sand with a flat high point in its nucleus, and tall trees behind.  The trees are rooted in sand that was flung high in some previous flood and makes for good high water camping.