I found a new site yesterday, The Mississippi River Trail, which encourages people to canoe from Saverton, Missouri to Cairo, Illinois, a distance of two hundred miles. Saverton, the starting point just south of Hannibal, hugs the bank of the river in Pool 24. The site, which seems to be under construction, includes maps of Pool 24 and a variety of other maps of the trail, but not all. You can find the Upper Mississippi navigation maps , which are available for purchase, but which you can print on your home printer. It’s not perfect, but it works. You can also print USGS maps, show you the river, but also the roads to the river’s edge.
I have a sorry history with canoeing. For my work on The Mississippi: A Visual Biography, I floated the Headwaters, dumped three times, almost lost my camera (fortunately a wooden camera that dried out), and quit before I was about to back over a waterfall. Not a great experience.
If you want to explore the wetlands created by the river, go by road.
Ted Shanks, just north of Louisiana, Missouri, is a Missouri Conservation Department managed wetland and will worth the visit.
You will need USGS maps to find Norton Woods, at the northern end of Stag Island. It is not easy to find. It is on a skinny strip of land that is swamped every time the river floods.
A boat ramp at Cuivre Slough gives access to the river. To get there travel across the old channel of the Cuivre River.
Duck Chute is a part of the complex of wing dikes that direct the current of the Missouri River into the Mississippi and keeps the rivers from taking over Duck Chute at the main navigation channel. You can get to it from the Columbia Bottoms Wildlife Management Area. You to get to the viewing platform, look to the left and you will find the trail worn by anglers who descend into the chute for the fishing. It is only available when the river is down.
Harlow Chute, south of Crystal City, Missouri, is a part of the Middle Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge. Use a USGS map to get to it.
Degonia Creek streams into the battue lands, on the river side of the levee, at Cora, Illinois, and forms its own little floodplain, within the larger Mississippi Floodplain.
There are other places to explore. I will touch on them another time.