The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Osceola To Shelby Forest

The river through this area was once known as the “Devil’s Race Course, and though there have been some major earth changes in the last 150 years, Dean Island is in the vicinity of what used to called Devil’s Island No. 36.   If you're staying main channel around Dean Island stay with the best flow along island and go wide around the high bottom end.  Fast water flows to river left.  Go with it and stay out of the way of upstream tows which favor slow water hugging the bottom of Dean (river right).


RBD 761.5-757 Back Channel of Dean Island


Note: If you intend on camping on Dean Island, stay Main Channel where the best campsites are located.  If you are continuing on downstream, take the beautiful back channel, one of the most scenic found on the Lower Miss.


Dean Island Back Channel is lined with deep forests of tall trees and good flow at all but the lowest of water levels.  If there is water going in there is water going out.  The 2011 flood greatly enlarged this back channel, as it did many others down the Lower Mississippi.  This is one of the distinct advantages of such an extreme high waterhigh water: the cleaning out of clogged channels.


Enter Dean Island Channel with a wide eddy out of the main channel of the river past the Island 35 Light RBD 762.2.  An enormous eddy forms here in a hollow-out of the river bank.  Ride the fast waters around the turbulent edge and drive in when you see the water direction begin flowing inwards towards the big opening above Dean Island.  You can relax as soon as you have gained perch with the inflowing current.  If you have the time stop paddling and enjoy the sensation of floating amongst the gentle currents under the tall trees, buoyed to and fro by gentle boils and resulting mini-whirlpools.


The back channel of Island 35 enters from the right as Dean Island Channel turns southward and slightly westward a mile with a slight bend to the east, and then a responding turn to the west.  Four miles total.  When you see the main channel again begin steeling yourself for traffic and more rigorous river activity!