Little Sunflower River Paddling Trail

The Little Sunflower is lined by deep woods punctuated with large trees. The woods are home to a variety of animals and birds. This easy flat water paddle travels through Delta National Forest, the only bottomland hardwood forest in the National Forest System.

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Location

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Latitude: 32.690642 Longitude: -90.833759 Elevation: 98 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Meg Cooper

Best Access Points

Paddler’s Route #1: Round Trip from downtown Clarksdale
Length: 1-4 miles round trip
Description: Quick round trip suitable for all paddlers
Experience Level: Beginner, intermediate, or advanced
Time: 1-3 hours
Put-in and take-out: Primitive ramp next to Quapaw Canoe Company

Services: Lodging, food, outfitting and guiding, canoe/kayak rentals, coffee shop, WiFi, arts and music available in Clarksdale.

Put-in is over the muddy banks in between City Hall and Quapaw Canoe Company (3rd & Sunflower Ave.) and is accessible via the public parking area in downtown Clarksdale. The route goes upstream around Soldier’s Field, past Duck Walk, and as far as the paddler desires. The Little Sunflower enters the river two miles upstream and there are beautiful forests full of wildlife in this area. Paddlers may turn around at any time and have the flow of the river help them back downstream.

 

Paddler’s Route #2: Eagle’s Nest to Clarksdale

Length: 10 miles
Description: Best suited for shorter canoes, kayaks or SUPs
Experience Level: Intermediate/advanced
Time: 4-6 hours
Put-in: Eagle’s Nest Road
Take-out: Sunflower Landing

Services: Lodging, food, outfitting and guiding, canoe/kayak rentals, coffee shop, WiFi, arts and music available in Clarksdale.

Some portages over fallen trees may be necessary on the upper stretch. This trail provides an intimate look into the neighborhoods of Coahoma County and some of the highlights (and scars) of Clarksdale.

1. Eagle’s Nest Road
N34.268025, W90.565313

A primitive put-in is located on the southeast side of the Farrell-Eagle’s Nest Road Bridge. Vehicles may be parked on the side of the road or paddlers may be shuttled to the site. The parking lot and landing are private. Okay for daytrip.

2. Mouth of Swan Lake Bayou – Mile 2.3
N34.2481, W90.547128

This channelized bayou drains Swan Lake, Jonestown, and areas along Highway 61. It normally has low flow; however, after a rainfall, a large volume of muddy water may be added to the river. The Sunflower gets noticeably bigger and deeper here so there are more cypress trees and less grasses and weeds. Good place for a picnic. The small bluff at the confluence provides a good view of the river channel and surrounding land.

3. Mackie Lake Bayou – Mile 3.1, RBD
N34.239515, W90.550947

There is little flow here. Paddlers may have an opportunity to view beavers or river otter.

4. Big Woody Bend – Mile 3.6
N34.235364, W90.551655

These floodplain hardwood forests are full of wild turkey and squirrels. Paddlers can stretch their legs and make a picnic. Respect private property. Caution should be used when walking in woods during hunting season. The best protection is to wear orange cap or vest over a life jacket.

5. Water Treatment Town of Lyon – Mile 4.3
N34.227984, W90.546098

A small pipe and ditch announces the nearby Lyon Water Treatment Plant outfall. This area is known locally as Shuffordsville.

6. Friars Point Road – Mile 6.7
N34.218864, W90.573328

Paddlers should beware of snags, strainers and blocked passages. Portage may be required. The Sunflower River runs underneath the Friars Point Road Bridge, which is sometimes blocked by driftwood. Pier Bridge catches piles of wood as well. The next bridge down (single span — Lee Drive) is always open.

7. Little Sunflower River – Mile 8.2
N34.211234, W90.5897

Following an old channel of the Mississippi, theLittle Sunflowerreachesnorth and west towards Stovall (past Muddy Waters’ boyhood cabin) and eventually reaches the fields south of Friars Point near Old River. Prior to the construction of the levees this was an old distributary of the Mississippi. A house is located on the west bank at the confluence, but paddlers can follow the Little Sunflower upstream when the water allows. Muddy Waters‘ boyhood cabin is located several miles up the Little Sunflower.

8. Duck Walk – Mile 8.97
N34.20962, W90.584679

Clarksdale native Mary Jo McIntosh and her husband Robert built Duck Walk on this bend of the Sunflower River across the street from their house. Ducks used to flock here for daily feedings of crumbs, but the tradition has come to an end. It is still a lovely bend of the river and is now inhabited by a small cluster of houses. Paddlers can stop near a small elegant concrete stairway built by the McIntoshes (which is no longer maintained) for a picnic and a place to stretch.

9. Soldier’s Field – Mile 9.6
N34.20962, W90.584679

The Sunflower makes a wide loop around Soldier’s Field at mile 9.6 where paddlers can get out for a picnic or to stretch their legs. Opposite the Field is the Coahoma County Jail.

10. Downtown Clarksdale – Mile 9.8
N34.203, W90.576932

Here the river goes under the First Street Bridge and City Hall into downtown Clarksdale. A water treatment facility can be seen bank left above the bridge and a USGS water gage is below.

The Second Street Bridge is the oldest surviving downtown bridge, built in 1936. It is a classic concrete I-beam bridge featuring column style guardrails and period lampposts.

A small statue in memory of Louise Moss Montgomery at the west end of the Second Street Bridge welcomes everyone to Clarksdale. She was the Poet Laureate of Mississippi from 1973-1978. A plaque bears her words, “Spirit on high, come down, come down/And rest Thy hand upon this town/And let Thy love flow full and free/Through human vessels just like me.”

11. Sunflower Landing – Mile 10
N34.201743, W90.576522

A primitive take-out in downtown Clarksdale is just past the Second Street Bridge. Public parking is available. The Sunflower Landing is found down the concrete ramp next to Quapaw Canoe Company at 3rd & Sunflower.

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