The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail
235 RBD Point Place Landing (Wilkerson Point)
Good sandy landings are found here along the inside crux of Mulatto Bend all of the way up to bank full 30BG. It’s the place to stop in the presence of oncoming storms or high winds out of the south. If the winds are gusting to 20mph or more out of the south, you would be wise to make a landing and take a break until the wind calms. Once you get around this bend and start downstream there are very few places to pull over safely until you reach the downtown riverfront.
234.2 RBD Wilkerson Landing Boat Ramp
Although labeled as a boat ramp, this landing looks like a pile of concrete slag poured over the mud. In other words it’s very rough, very steep, and highly suspect for safe use. As with the above Point Place Landing you could exit the river at this location if strong south winds await you around the bend. It would definitely be best to make landing and let the winds (or storms) die before proceeding into the very dangerous port of Baton Rouge. Pull your vessel completely out of the water if you stop.
235 – 234.7 LBD Southern Univ., Istrouma (Scott’s) Bluff, Mississippi Loess Bluff #9
Paddler, congratulations: you have reached the last bluff on the Lower Mississippi River! Even though you still have 245 miles to go to reach the Gulf of Mexico (South Pass route) this is a landmark worth noting. The Southern University straddles the last of the Mississippi Loess Bluff, Istrouma Bluff, or Scott’s Bluff, the ninth bluff that touches the river between Vicksburg and Baton Rouge. Southern University is a historic black college that sits on over 500 acres on Scott’s Bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. Originally founded in 1880 in New Orleans, Southern University became a land grant college for blacks in 1890 and moved to its current location in 1914. It has a long and fascinating story as a pioneering institution for civil rights, agriculture and law with many distinguished alumni. If you’re paddling during football season, be sure to catch a performance by the “Human Jukebox,” Southern’s legendary marching band. (LMRK)
Downtown Baton Rouge itself sits on a high ground also created by the bluffs, but none of this is visible today as it has been flattened and spread out for the building of streets and high rises. This is the first high ground when traveling from the mouth of the Mississippi River and one of many spots in South Louisiana reported to be a location where the famous Pirate Captain Jean Lafitte is said to have buried gold and treasure. Scott’s Bluff is also thought to be where the “Red Stick”, from which Baton Rouge gets its name, was encountered by French explorers. There is a live oak shaded park area along the top of the bluff on Southern’s campus that has a sculptural monument commemorating the Red Stick and a historical marker commemorating Southern University. It’s worth the hike up the bluff to visit the pretty campus if you have time. (LMRK)
233.9 US 190 and Railroad Bridge (Old Bridge)
The “Old Bridge” was originally opened in 1940 and officially named the Huey P. Long Bridge. Legend has it, that famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long had this bridge built to a height that would prevent large ship traffic from being able to navigate any further upriver, forcing them to utilize the port of Baton Rouge and keeping a monopoly on deepwater ship traffic in Louisiana.
While crossing the country in one of their incredible road trips, Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassidy pulled off and made a stop below the Old Bridge on the Port Allen side (West Bank) to relieve themselves, as related in Kerouac’s On the Road.
Navigating Baton Rouge Harbor
The stretch of river entering Baton Rouge hosts a high density of industrial docks for loading and unloading of various products. These structures can present a danger for paddlers and should be navigated with caution. In addition to the commercial traffic moving to and from these docks, the structures themselves can create treacherous waters and sometimes create shifting piles of debris held on their upriver face.
Paddlers should NOT paddle behind these structures as this may present a danger of getting pinned into an unpleasant situation amongst structures, barges, tow boats and the bank.
Additionally, docks and corresponding industries are unmarked and sometimes change ownership. Identifying the myriad of industries that utilize them can be difficult to keep up with. Be careful when identifying these structures by company name as it is best to depend on location and description for consistency. (LMRK)
233.7 LBD Monte Sano Bayou
Incorrectly listed as “Bayou Baton Rouge” on USACE river charts, Monte Sano Bayou enters the Mississippi between the Formosa Plastics Corp., Baton Rouge North Wharf and Formosa Plastics Corp., Baton Rouge Plant Wharf (the first two docks you encounter after the US 190 bridge LBD). Native American mounds on the banks of Monte Sano Bayou were dated to more than 6000 years old making them the oldest earthen structures in the Southeastern United States. The mounds were destroyed and the area paved over during an expansion of Formosa Plastics. (Michael & Paul Orr)
Monte Sano Bayou is noteworthy in that it is the last tributary flowing into the Mississippi River. Downstream from here, the only surface water to enter the river must be pumped over the levee. (The name of this stream has no connection with the Monsanto Corporation, which has a chemical plant on the river in Luling, LA, about a week’s paddle downstream.) (Mike Beck)