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Paddling Trails on the Great River Road

Dust off your paddle! These Mississippi paddling trails and loops will show travelers a good time on the river.

  ~Minnesota~

Aghaming Trail (Winona, MN) – 6.7 miles

Glide on the currents in southern Minnesota! Aghaming Trail near Lastch Island allows travelers to experience floodplain forests and the wildlife that comes with the terrain.

Mississippi National River and Recreation Area Water Trail (Ramsey, MN) – 76 miles

From Ramsey to Hastings, this Mississippi trail allows newcomers and locals to connect with the river’s history. The trail offers scenic wildlife opportunities and recreational activities throughout a traveler’s journey. 

 ~Wisconsin~

Voyageurs Canoe Trail (Trempealeau, WI) – 3.4 miles

During the mid-1800s, French Canadian fur traders traveled along the trail to expand and explore. Today, travelers can explore the same trail among marsh terrain and scenic views of the bluffs.

Goose Island Trail (La Crosse, WI) – 7 miles

Goose Island County Park visitors have direct access to the water trail from the three boat ramps in the park. Canoe rentals are available.  The trail has a rich indigeneous history with the Woodland Indians, Oneota, and HoChunk.

~Iowa~

Dubuque Water Trail (Dubuque, IA) – 11 miles

Whether you are a novice or experienced traveler, the trail is enjoyable by all levels. There is opportunity to paddle the main channel’s shoreline or to test the backwaters. 

Odessa Water Trail (Louisa County, Iowa) – 18 miles

Great River Road travelers can explore 6,400 acres of wetlands. Shallow lakes, isolated ponds, timber chutes, marsh, and forest all come with the terrain.

~Illinois~

Kaskaskia River Trail (Baldwin IL) – 325 miles

The meeting point of the Kaskaskia River and the Mississippi River is the only public access site of the Mississippi River for a 100 miles in Illinois. Travelers can visit and experience the beauty of the two rivers!

Spring Lake Canoe Area (Savannah, IL)

About 7 miles south of Savannah, IL is a canoe area that is rich in waterfowl.  A great start to your visit is the The Ingersoll Wetlands Learning Center where you can enjoy the Mississippi River exhibits before hitting the water.

 ~Missouri~

Mississippi River Water Trail (Saverton, MO) – 121 miles

A fantastic trail that takes you through St. Louis.  Mile markers, campsites, and access points are all well documented and mapped.  There are multiple events each year and you can choose beginner, intermediate, and advanced portions of the trail to try out.

Cuivre River Trail (Troy, MO) – 25 miles

Great River Road travelers can escape the city and find a peaceful time at Cuivre River State Park. Canoes and kayaks are available to rent, as well as beach and camping options for those who want to stay along the trail. 

~Kentucky~

Ballard Bottoms (Ballard County, KY)

Where the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers meet is a wildlife management area full of sloughs, bottomlands, oxbow lakes, and tupelo and cypress swamps.  Easy paddling in peaceful environments.

Bayou du Chien (Hickman County, KY)

More like a Louisiana Bayou than you thought you could find in Kentucky.  It’s recommended to paddle between KY 307 and KY 239.

~Tennessee~

The Wolf River Trail (Memphis, TN) – 36 miles

The most popular portion of the trail is the Ghost River Section. At this point, the river diversifies into a braided swamp system that is enchanting, and sometimes eerie. 

Hatchie River Trail (Randolph, TN) – 238 miles

Hatchie is the longest free flowing Mississippi tributary in the lower region of the country. Travelers will also glide past two National Wildlife Refuge Areas, which makes up over 21,000 acres of protected and preserved forested floodplain.

~ARKANSAS~

Lower Mississippi Water Trail (Helena, AK) – 115.3 miles

Between Helena and Arkansas City is some of the best Mississippi River paddling if you want to see the river as it originally was, back in Mark Twain’s day.  Quapaw Canoe Company, in Helena, offers guided tours.

Mississippi River State Park (Marianna, AK)

The newest state park in Arkansas has some great paddling opportunities.  Bear Creek Lake can be a peaceful, smooth paddle. 

~Mississippi~

Sunflower River Paddling Trail (Eagle’s Nest, MS) – 10 miles

While traveling the trail, look out for mud sediments with embedded mussel shells when the tide is low. Meanwhile, wildlife such as black bears, raccoons, and wild hogs are found along the river. 

Yazoo River Trail (Vicksburg, MS) – 5 miles

The river was once a Civil War channel. Around 29 sunk Civil War boats are still in the river!

~Louisiana~

Bayou Lafourche (Donaldsonville, LA) – 106 miles

Interesting fact: the bayou is the only potable water source for Port Fourchon! The waterway has a long history with the indigenious tribes and Acadians. 

Barataria Preserve Trails (New Orleans, LA) – 5 miles

This trail combines a swamp and a forest in a New Orleans nature experience! Keep an eye on the water, there may be an alligator or two.