The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Putting in: Clay Street Landing/Yazoo River

Clay Street Landing (Vicksburg Boat Ramp on the US Army Corps Maps).  Most expeditions leaving Vicksburg begin not on the Mississippi but on the tributary river the Yazoo, which flows through the heart of downtown and confluences with the Mighty Miss one mile downstream.  There is a landing at the foot of Clay Street which is the best landing in the area.  This is a wide landing with plenty of room for paddlers to load up and prepare departure amongst the fishermen and commercial vessels.  Unless it is a strong north wind or west wind, you will find this to be a protected landing.  Depending on rainfall and the Mississippi River levels, the Yazoo is normally flowing slowly here.  But sometimes it is at a standstill when the big river is high.  After heavy rain fall and a low Mississippi River it might be flowing swift and turbulent with chalky waters.    


If driving to the landing, follow Clay Street through downtown Vicksburg, down the steep hill, 2 blocks West of Washington Street (Old Highway 61).  The landing opens up just beyond the tall concrete seawall in front of you at the bottom of the hill.  You can leave your vehicle overnight, and it should be safe.  Hide all valuables.  Don’t leave vehicle for extended periods of time (more than one night).  For one thing, the river sometimes rises up against the seawall drowning everything on the landing.  The other thing is that you will eventually be broken into.  Your best option is to arrange shuttle, or find a safe place in downtown Vicksburg to park.


Paddlers on canoes, kayaks or stand up paddleboards follow the Yazoo River downstream along the Loess Bluffs of Vicksburg.  Known as the “River of Death” the Yazoo River was once populated by Quapaws, Choctaws, and others Amerindians, and still is a vital route for commerce and transportation.  Towboats use the Yazoo as far upstream as Greenwood.   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!

Down the Yazoo to the Mississippi

Leaving the Clay Street Landing paddlers can enjoy the last mile of the Yazoo as it flushes out of the Mississippi Delta and enters the mother river.  This section of the Yazoo is locally known as the “Yazoo Canal,” an unromantic naming of a legendary river which refers to the big scale earthwork done to reopen the Vicksburg riverfront after the Mississippi left it high and dry in the 1870s.  The Yazoo normally runs a creamy yellow sweet with the succulent soils of the Mississippi Delta.  Be vigilant for commercial traffic.  There might be small tows pushing 1-4 barges back and forth between the big river and the Vicksburg Harbor (several miles upstream the Yazoo).  Usually they run slow past the landing.  All types of river traffic are found in the Yazoo Canal.  Besides fishermen and workboats you might see the log barges, rock barges, petroleum barges, hot asphalt barges, big tows, small tows, the American Queen, the Viking Queen, and Queen of the Mississippi, the US Coast Guard, US Army Corps vessels, and etc, etc.  There is a growing paddling community in Vicksburg, so hopefully you’ll see other canoeists, kayakers, and maybe a long distance raft.  Unfortunately, the Sweet Olive went out of business and is no longer plying the muddy waters around Vicksburg.  She was last seen pulled to the shore and listing dangerously on a falling river, 


As soon as you push out into the gentle flow of the Yazoo you will see the mouth of the big river below and the trusses of the Vicksburg Bridge, the power plant downstream beyond.  If you are carrying a VHF Marine radio this would be a good time to turn it on and adjust the squelch and listen in on channel 13 for any traffic in the area.  This is a notoriously difficult bend of the river for towboats to get through and make final adjustments for safe passage between the towers of the bridge.  You will want to be aware of all traffic and stay out of their way.  Especially downstreamers. 


Watch for gators as you paddle down the Yazoo.  They are frequently seen sunning themselves along the West shore.  While gators are rarely seen in the main channel of the Mississippi, they are common to tributaries like the Yazoo, and will become thicker and thicker along tributaries the further south you go.  Like all cold blooded creatures they like sunning themselves along the banks of the river, which is your best chance for viewing.  Are they dangerous?  Canoeists and kayakers are fairly safe.  In the law of the jungle you appear to be a much larger creature than they are, and they will always run away at your approach.  On the other hand, from Vicksburg downstream you should be cautious along shorelines, especially in back channels, and even more so if you have children or dogs with you.


Mile 437: Entering the Mississippi

Paddlers starting their journey in Vicksburg will begin their Mississippi River adventure here with a bang: this is one of the most dangerous places on the entire Mississippi!  Buckle on your lifejacket, batten down the hatches (put away valuables and strap down any essential gear), and turn on your VHF Marine radio to channel 13.  If possible study your maps beforehand and listen to the weather forecast with an ear towards the wind.  If the wind is calm, you can choose your route based on tow traffic.  If there’s a strong wind out of the south (10-20mph) beware of the big waves that pile up below and downstream of the bridge, especially violent left bank and under the Eastern span.  If the wind is 25mph or higher out of the south you should wait safely on shore until the winds calm.  


Upon entering the Mighty Mississippi all paddlers should stay left bank descending following the boil line and enjoy the swift current whisking you downstream along the base of the Vicksburg Bluff.  Not only is this the fastest water, but you will remain well out of the way of any downstream tows, who as mentioned above, become extremely nervous at this bend.  Many tows and even more barges have met their demise at the Vicksburg Bridge.  Here are a few of the considerations: STAY LEFT: 1) If a tow is coming downstream towards you out of Brown’s Point you’ll definitely want to stay left bank.  2) If the wind is calm and no towboats are steaming up under the bridge, your best route is left bank.  GO RIGHT: 3) If there is a strong south wind and no downstream towboats are approaching from above, you might want to paddle hard for the right bank span of the bridge where the waves are less choppy and there is considerably less turbulence.  4) If there is a big towboat powering upstream and approaching under the bridge you might want to paddle hard to get to the calmer waters right bank descending around Delta Point.  5) If you are hoping to reach the sandbar at Delta Point (see below for more about Delta Point).


Follow the flow of the Yazoo and use it to help you enter the Main channel of the big river.  The milky Yazoo meets the sometimes browner (higher water levels) sometimes greener Mississippi (lower water levels) in a series of boils.  Paddle over these boils and enjoy the mixing of the colors.  The Yazoo will hug left bank for several hundred yards downstream towards the bridge before finally succumbing completely to the mother river.   As with all turbulence exercise appropriate caution with strong boils which can result in the formation of whirlpools.  


437 RBD Delta Point

Opposite the mouth of the Yazoo River and downstream a half mile is an elegant sandbar with a spectacular view of the entire Vicksburg Bluff.  You will enjoy the very best panoramic view available from this lovely picnic spot.  In one sitting you can see all of Vicksburg from the pointed spire of the Illinois Monument (in the National Battlefield) through downtown and all the way down to the bridge and the ragged line of collapsing bluffs below.  You could possibly camp here, but be ready for visitors which frequent this location both from land (ATV trail) and water (popular fishing spot).  Spacious sandbar below 30VG.  Possible sliver of sand up to 35VG.  Most sand will be gone at 40VG.  Forested areas are the last remaining dry ground at flood stage.  At low water the sandbar extends well downstream towards the bridge and below, but as noted above you might have company in the form of ATV traffic, and of course the closer you get to the bridge the more you’ll hear the roaring of the road.

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Middle Mississippi & Bluegrass Hills / Bootheel 195-0, 954-850 ST. LOUIS TO CARUTHERSVILLE
Chickasaw Bluffs 850 – 737 CARUTHERSVILLE TO MEMPHIS
Upper Delta 737 – 663 MEMPHIS TO HELENA
Middle Delta 663 – 537 HELENA TO GREENVILLE
Loess Bluffs 437 – 225 VICKSBURG TO BATON ROUGE
Vicksburg to Natchez
USFW and the LMRCC  
Bluz Cruz  
Vicksburg Services and Accommodations  
Putting In: Clay Street Landing / Yazoo River  
Down the Yazoo to the Mississippi  
437 Entering the Mississippi
437 Delta Point
437 Centennial Cutoff
434.5 LBD Ergon General Store (Tow Boat Supply)
437 – 435 LBD Walnut Hills (Mississippi Loess Bluff ##1)
Greatest Dust Storm Ever  
Bluff Beat  
The Nice Mississippi Loess Bluffs  
No Levees  
436.5 LBD City of Vicksburg Riverfront Park
435.7 LBD Vicksburg Bridges: US 80 and I-20
The Zen od Paddling the Big River  
Paddler’s Choices Below Vicksburg  
Crossing Over to Delta Point  
Vicksburg Bridge  
Main Channel LBD  
Main Channel RBD  
LBD Private Boat Ramp  
433.2 LBD Baxter Wilson Steam Plant
432 – 430 RBD Racetrack Towhead Back Channel
432 – 430 RBD Racetrack Towhead Main Channel
431 – 424 LBD Below Racetrack Dikes / Towhead
430 – 427 RBD Reid Bedford Bend
427.3 RBD Reid Bedford Point
426 LBD Letourneau Public Boat Launch
426.5 LBD Hennessey’s Bayou
426 LBD Letourneau
Palmyra / Togo / Middle Ground Island  
Paddling in the Port Gibson Area  
Main Channel Route  
425 LBD Entrance to Palmyra Lake Back Channel
Palmyra Lake Back Channel  
Hazard: Low Bridge Palmyra Lake  
416 RBD Togo Island Back Channel
414 RBD The Crossroads
408.5 LBD Big Black River
HWY 61 Boat Ramp  
407.8 LBD Grand Gulf State Park
Middle Ground Island Back Channel  
404 RBD Yucatan Ditch
405 – 401 RBD Coffee Point Dikes
423 RBD Diamond Cut-Off
421 – 419 RBD Newtown Bend Sandbar
419.6 LBD Lake Karnac
417 – 414 RBD Togo Island
416.5 LBD “Big Momma” Dike
418 – 413 RBD Big Black Island
417 – 414 RBD Togo Island Bend & Dikes
Mississippi River Dead End?  
414 RBD Palmyra – Togo Island Crossroads
Big Black Bluff, The Grand Gulp (Mississippi Loess Bluff ##2)  
410 RBD Middle Ground Island
Honeymoon Island  
404.8 RBD Port of Claiborne County
Phatwater Mississippi River Challenge Rip  
404.2 RBD Yucatan Ditch
399 LBD High Bluffs
395 LBD Bayou Pierre
Mississippi Water Levels  
Natchez Gage (NG)  
Water Levels and Dikes  
Using the Natchez Gage  
Louisiana Daytrip: St. Joseph to Waterproof  
396.4 RBD St. Joseph Boat Ramp
396.4 RBD Lake Bruin State Park
396.4 RBD Fish Tale Grill / Lake Bruin Lodge & Country Store
395 LBD Mouth of Bayou Pierre
Main Channel St. Jo to Waterproof  
RBD Med / High Water Route – Back Channel  
LBD Med / High Water Route – Back Channel  
392 RBD Bondurant Towhead
389 LBD Rodney Chute
384 LBD Spithead Towhead
Petit Gulf Hills – Mississippi Loess Bluff ##3  
394 LBD Bruinsburg Landing
392 LBD Rodney (Ghost Town)
390 – 389.5 RBD Brown’s Field Island
385.9 LBD Below Brown’s Field Wetlands
389 – 387 LBD Cottage Bend Islands
389 LBD Rodney Lake Side Trip
381 Waterproof Landing
381 – 374 RBD Waterproof Island
373 – 371 LBD Fairchild (Skull) Island
Natchez Bluffs  
The Great Sun – The Natchez People  
Adam Elliott, Natchez Outpost of the Quapaw Canoe Company  
370 LBD Greens Bayou
369 Highline
370 – 368 LBD Opposite Rifle Point
369 – 367.5 RBD Rifle Point
368 – 366 LBD Bluff Bars
367 LBD Devil’s Punchbowl
367.5 RBD Opening to Old River – Top End (Marengo Bend Lake)
367 – 365 LBD Remnants of Cypress Forest
365 LBD Opening to Old River – Bottom End (Merengo Bend Lake)
363.5 LBD Natchez-Under-The-Hill
Some Natchez Stories  
The Natchez Bluff – Mississippi Loess Bluff ##4  
Natchez to St. Francisville
363 Natchez Bridge
363 RBD Vidalia Boat Ramp
362.8 RBD Vidalia Boat Ramp (Lower)
361 LBD St. Catherine Creek(New Mouth)
360 – 356.5 RBD Natchez Islands
355 LBD Carthage Point
358 – 355 LBD Carthage Point Towhead
356.5 – 360 RBD Morville / Jeffries Landing
352.5 LBD St. Catherine National Wildlife Refuge
Wood Storks  
Wintering Waterfowl  
Alligator Gar  
Bottomland Harwood Forests  
352.5 – 346.5 LBD Opposite Warnicotte / Esperance Archipelago
348.6 RBD Esperance Landing
348 – 344 RBD Esperance Point
347.2 LBD Old Mouth of St. Catherine Creek
348 – 345 LBD Ellis Cliffs (Mississippi Loess Bluff ##5)
344 RBD Esperance Bottom
341.3 RBD Fairview / Old River
The Mamie S Barret  
346 – 341 Glasscock Cut-Off
341.1 LBD Washout Bayou / Homochitto River
340.1 RBD Oil Well & Boat Ramp
340 – 338 LBD Buck Island
338.5 – 334 RBD Fritz Island
340 – 332 Dead Man’s Bend
332 – 328 Jackson Point / Widow Graham Bend
326 RBD Union Point
325.5 – 322.5 RBD Palmetto Island
325 – 320 Three Rivers WMA and Red River NWR
323 LBD Artonish Boat Ramp
323 – 321 RBD Black Hawk Island
321 – 319 LBD Palmetto Bend
Alternate Route to the Gulf of Mexico: The Atchafalaya River  
The Atchafalaya  
316.3 RBD Hydro Intake – Old River Control Structure
Short History of the Old River Control Structure  
314.6 RBD Main Intake – Old River Control Structure
313 LBD Buffalo River (Old Mouth of the Homochito River)
Clark Creek Natural Area  
313.7 RBD Knox Landing
311.7 RBD Auxiliary Intake — Old River Control Structure
311.7 LBD Clark Creek
311.7 – 310 LBD Tunica Hills Below Clark Creek (Mississippi Loess Bluff ##6)
311 – 309 RBD Point Breeze
310.2 LBD Wilkinson Creek
306 LBD Welcome to Louisiana!
306 – 294 LBD Angola State Penitentiary
306 LBD Angola Ferry
304.5 – 303 LBD Shreve’s Bar
303.7 Old River Lock and Dam: Entrance to the Atchafalaya River
The Atchafalaya River: Best Rout to the Gulf  
306 – 302 Back Channel of Shreve’s Bar
306 – 302 RBD Main Channel of Shreve’s Bar
304 RBD Carr Point
302.8 RBD Torras Landing
302.5 – 298 LBD Hog Point Sandbar
299 – 298 LBD Hog Point Towhead
300.2 – 298 RBD Miles Bar Towhead
297 RBD Raccourci Runout / Monday Lake
295.5 RBD Leatherman Point
294.7 LBD Sugar Lake Bayou
293 LBD Tunica Bayou
293 – 291.5 LBD Tunica Hills (Mississippi Loess Bluffs ##7)
Tunica Hills WMA  
293 – 290 RBD Tunica Bar Towhead
291.9 LBD Little Hollywood
291.8 LBD Como Bayou
289.8 LBD Polly Creek
289.5 – 289 RBD Greewood Bar
287.5 LBD Greewood Dune
287.5 – 284 LBD Little Island
283.3 LBD Sebastopol
281.5 RBD Below Burnette Point
281.5 – 280.5 RBD New Tex Landing
281 – 278 LBD Morgan’s Bend (Iowa Point)
278.5 – 277.8 LBD Iowa Point Bottom End of Morgan’s Bar
279.6 – 279 RBD Morganza Spillway Entrance
278.8 RBD Cement Silo
277.2 RBD Morganza Crevasse
276.6 RBD Protected Dune
275.5 RBD Before Boies Point “Hidey Hole”
276 – 275 LBD Collapsing Muddy Banks
275 – 270 LBD Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge
Cypress-Tupelo Swamp  
Bottomland Harwood Forests  
Wading Birds  
Wintering Waterfowl  
273 – 270 RBD St. Maurice Island
274.4 LBD Hardwick’s Ditch / Access to the Co-Champion Cypress Tree
270 LBD Double Silo Hunting Club “Cajun Condo”
268.5 – 268 RBD Graveyard Landing
266.2 LBD Bayou Sara
266 LBD Old St. Francisville Ferry Landing
St. Francisville, LA  
St. Francisville History  
265.5 LBD Army Corps Work Ramp
265.5 LBD St. Francisville Mat Casting Field
264.8 LBD St. Francisville Boat Ramp
St. Francisville to Baton Rouge
Paddling Through the Narrows Below St. Francisville  
264.7 LBD Small Bayou
263 – 261 LBD Sandy Dunes Dugan Landing
263 RBD Big Cajun Power Plant I and II
261.8 John James Audubon (New Roads) Bridge
260.1 LBD Crown Vantage Outflow
259.9 LBD Transmontaigne Docking
259 RBD Big Cajun I Power Plant
259 – 256 LBD Fancy Point Towhead
257 RBD Hermitage Dune
256 – 255.5 LBD Fancy Point Sandbar
255.5 – 253.8 RBD Point Menoir
255.5 LBD Thompson Creek
255 LBD Georgia Pacific Port Hudson Paper Mill
257 RBD Hermitage Dune
Water Quality  
The Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper  
Environmental Reporting Phone Numbers  
255 – 254.2 LBD Thompson Creek Bluffs (Mississippi Loess Bluff ##8)
253.6 LBD Amoco Pipelnie Dock
252.2 – 246.5 LBD Profit Island
252.8 – 252.2 LBD Profit Island Chute (Entrance)
Profit Island Chute Weir  
Profit Island Chute (Industrial Area)  
250.3 RBD Bald Eagle Nest
250.2 RBD Wreckage of Crane Boat
247.2 RBD Smithfield Boat Ramp
246.5 – 246 LBD Profit Island Chute (Exit)
The Monmouth Disaster  
246.2 RBD Small Dune
246.5 – 245.8 LBD Sandbar at Bottom of Profit Chute
First Sighting of Baton Rouge (Still 12 Miles Downstream)  
245 LBD Devil’s Swamp Bayou
“The Very Bottom”  
Baton Rouge Crossroads  
241 – 239 LBD Thomas Point (Mallet Bend)
239 – 235 LBD Allendale Reach (Thomas Point to Wilkerson Point)
239 – 235 LBD Allendale Reach: Fleeted Barges
235.8 LBD Devil’s Swamp Bayou
235.8 LBD Bayou Baton Rouge
235.2 LBD Baton Rouge Harbor
235.2 LBD Baton Rouge North Wastewater Treatment Plant Outfall
236 233 LBD Mulatto Bend (Wilkerson Point)
235 RBD Point Place Landing (Wilkerson Point)
234.2 RBD Wilkerson Landing Boat Ramp
235 – 234.7 LBD Southern Univ., Istrouma (Scott’s) Bluff, Mississippi Loess Bluff ##9
233.9 RBD US 190 and Railroad Bridge (Old Bridge)
Navigating Baton Rouge Harbor  
233.7 LBD Monte Sano Bayou
Supertankers? Welcome to Chemical Corridor Monte Sano Bayou
232.9 RBD CSS Arkansas
233.8 LBD Formosa Plastics Corp., Baton Rouge North Wharf
233 LBD Kinder Morgan (Exxon Petroleum Coke)
232.2 LBD ExxonMobil
232.2 LBD ExxonMobil Graffiti Wall
231.8 RBD Placid Refining
231.9 LBD Sunrise, Louisiana
230 LBD Welcome to Baton Rouge: Downtown Riverfront
Baton Rouge Sites and Services of Interest to Paddlers  
230.1 RBD West Baton Rouge Tourist Commission, Court Street Landing
229.6 LBD City Excursion Wharf AKA “The Paperclips”
229.6 LBD USS Kidd
229.4 LBD Argosy Casino
229.3 LBD I-10 Highway Bridge “New Bridge”
229.1 LBD Glass Beach (Baton Rouge Boat Ramp)
229 LBD Old Municipal Dock
229.1 RBD Greater Baton Rouge Dock No.1 Wharf: Community Coffee
How to Brew a Great-Tasting Pot of River-Rat Coffee  
228.3 RBD Intercostal Waterway (Port Allen Lock & Dam)
Resupply from Intercostal Waterway Boat Ramp (Under HWY 1)  
227.4 LBD LSU
Baton Rouge Gage (BG)  
Water Levels According to the Baton Rouge Gage (BG)  
Leaving Baton Rouge and Heading Downstream  
Welcome to Sola (South Louisiana)!  
Baton Rouge to New Orleans to Venice  
Venice to the Gulf  
About “Cancer Alley”  
Possible Campsites Along the Lower Mississippi River  
Baton Rouge to New Orleans  
220 LBD Duncan Point
214 – 215 RBD Manchac Point
210 LBD Bar Above Plaquemines LBD > 20
209 LBD Plaquemines LBD > 30
195 LBD Bayou Goula Sandbar LBD > 25
194 LBD Point Claire LBD > 35
177 LBD Eighty-One Mile Point LBD > 30
171 LBD Point Houmas > 30
154 LBD College Point > 30?
149 LBD Pauline Bar (Magnolia Landing) LBD > 30
143 LBD Belle Point LBD > 30?
132 RBD Bonnet Carre Island > 25?
130 LBD Thirty-Five Mile Point LBD > 30
129 LBD Bonnet Carre Upper LBD > 40
127 LBD Bonne Carre Lower LBD > 40
109 LBD Opposite Twelve Mile Point RBD > 35?
95 LBD Algier’s Point
94.7 LBD The Moonwalk — French Quarter and French Market
11 LBD Mouth of Baptiste Collette Bayou
10 RBD Mouth of Grand Pass
Atchafalaya River 159 – 0 SIMMESPORT TO MORGAN CITY
Louisiana Delta 229 – 10 BATON ROUGE TO VENICE
Birdsfoot Delta 10 – 0 VENICE TO GULF OF MEXICO