The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Shelby Forest to Memphis

Several Challenging Round-Trips from Memphis:

Memphis is the largest population on the last 1,000 miles of river, and yet in only an hour of hard paddling from downtown you can disappear into a big river wilderness with nothing but big skies, big forests, big sandbars and big river all around you!  Keep reading below for three samples of the best offerings.  Warning: Expert Routes.  For advanced paddlers only!


Everyone has their limits.  If you reach yours on one of these round trips, just turn around.  That’s the beauty of going upstream first.  It’s like climbing the mountain, except the return trip is (under normal conditions) easier than the climb.  If you push yourself beyond your capabilities you might be asking for trouble.  Possible dangers include heat exhaustion, hypothermia, and dehydration.   As any seasoned athlete or expedition member knows, it’s much better to enjoy the journey and turn around and survive than make it to the top of the mountain and not return!  On the Mississippi there are old paddlers, and there are bold paddlers.  But there are no old bold paddlers!


The Loosahatchie Redman Figure-Eight

12.8 miles (from Mud Island Upper)


For expert paddlers only!   Must be well trained in self-rescue.  Also, the river must be above 15 on the Memphis Gauge to make all of the crossings over back channel dikes.  Wear wetsuit in cold water (Nov - April) and stash phone and emergency gear in dry bag or dry box.  Difficult at medium water, extremely difficult at high water.  Do not attempt at flood stage.


Park your vehicle at Mud Island Upper, set your GPS, strap your gear down and tighten your life jacket.  You're in for an adventure!  (And it will all take place within five miles of downtown Memphis!) 


This figure-eight route will take you twelve to thirteen miles around two big islands with lots of fast water, strainers, snags, sawyers, flooded forests, roaring shoals, violent eddies, powerful boils, strong whirlpools, towboats, pleasure boats, docks, buoys, and other hazards.  You will need to make 3 ferry crossings, 17 dike crossings, and 2 long upstream crawls to complete this loop.


Check for traffic and grab the eddy at the mouth of the Wolf River to sling you out across the main channel to the Loosahatchie Bar. Hug Loosahatchie Bar to topsides and then ferry over to Redman, crawl up backsides using eddies and slow water wherever possible.  Cross over strong channel full of snags topsides into slow water at base of willow forest.  Follow willows through hole in the wall (at medium water) and blast you way through boil line back into main channel.  Enjoy downstream flow along outer Redman and dive back into Loosahatchie Back Channel to bottom of island, cut hard across island base and crawl your way back up outside Loosahatchie until you are even with the mouth of the Wolf.  Carefully check for traffic then make hard ferry crossing back to Mud Island.