Paddle 50 miles down the Yalobusha River through two distinct landscapes. Start in Grenada with the “Loess Bluffs,” hills of rock dust formed during the Ice Age by grinding glaciers. The river meanders from the Grenada Lake Spillway, through the bluffs to the expansive Delta floodplain of bottomland forests, swamps and agricultural fields. Arrive in Greenwood as the Yalobusha and Tallahatchie Rivers converge to form the Yazoo River just north of downtown.
Amazing scenery can be found year-round with countless sandbars and abundant wildlife. This region is part of the Mississippi Flyway which is the route for 40% of all North American migrating waterfowl, shorebirds and neotropical songbirds. The highlight of the trail is along Malmaison Wildlife Management Area, containing 10,000 acres of forests and wetlands perfect for wildlife viewing, exploring, camping, or hunting. The trail can be completed in 3-4 days or choose one section for a daytrip.
Trail description and photos by John Ruskey, Quapaw Canoe Company
Length: 16.4 miles
Time: 6.5 hours
Put In: Public boat ramp on North Main St. in downtown Grenada
Take Out: Hwy 8 Boat Ramp
This section begins in the scenic loess bluffs. Private lands, hunting clubs and ag fields border the river on both sides. There is a diverse topography of dry ridges, moist slopes, ravines, bottomland areas and cypress swamps along river.
Another option for paddling is Chakchiuma Swamp Natural Area located adjacent to the boat ramp. This is a 200 acre Natural Heritage Area and home to a diversity of birds and wildlife. There are two hiking trails and a boardwalk overlooking the swamp.
From the intersection of I-55 and Hwy 8 (Sunset Dr.) head east 0.7 miles and turn left onto South St. marked by a historic downtown sign. Travel 1.5 miles to the intersection of South St. and Hwy 51 and continue 0.1 mile onto 2nd Street into the historic residential area. Turn left onto South Main St. and drive 0.4 miles, passing the square and driving over the Yalobusha River Bridge. Take an immediate right after the bridge for the boat ramp, parking area, & Chakchiuma Swamp Natural Area.
1. Public Boat Ramp on North Main St. – Mile 0
2. I-55 Bridges – Mile 3.23
3. Two Creek Sandbar – Mile 5.5 N33.808927, W89.866662
Spacious sandbar LBD with Baker and Purdie Creeks entering the river directly across RBD.
4. Loess Bluff Scenic View – Mile 7.8 N33.787589, W89.888914
A scenic view of the loess banks with clear spring water seeping through moss and ferns clinging to the sculpted gray walls of the riverbank.
5. Long Creek – Mile 12 N33.785796, W89.940789
This sandy creek (RBD) contains deep layers of colorful gravel, fossils and petrified wood. A spacious sand and gravel bar a few hundred feet long is just south of Long Creek when water levels are average to low.
6. Holcomb Boat Ramp – Mile 16.4
Boat ramp is LBD just before the bridge.
Concrete boat ramp with a short average slope. May be covered in mud and silt. Adjacent gravel parking area near the bridge.
Section 2 – Holcomb to Malmaison WMA
Length: 11.3 miles
Time: 4.5 hours
Put In: Holcomb Boat Ramp at Hwy 8 Bridge
Take Out: Malmaison WMA Boat Ramp
This section of the trail offers convenient launch conditions, plentiful sandbars, and an abundance of wildlife. There are ample opportunities for exploring either side of the river due to the large amounts of public land in Malmaison Wildlife Management Area.
From the intersection of Hwy 7 and Hwy 8, take Hwy 8N/Hwy 35N and drive 1.5 miles. Boat ramp is on the right before the bridge.
6. Holcomb Boat Ramp – Mile 16.4
7. Cane Creek – Mile 18.3
Cane Creek enters the river LBD. At Mile 20.6, MWMA borders river on both sides for exploring.
8. Bobcat Sandbar – Mile 21
A stopping point for stretching or exploring the woods in MWMA.
9. Terrill Lake – Mile 22.4
Terrill Lake and two other small lakes within MWMA are RBD and less than .5 mile walk from the river. They can be reached either through the woods or along access road which is marked by an elevated water pump RBD.
10. Arrow Point Sandbar – Mile 25.7
This large sandbar is the last before a straight stretch of river heading due west. The river remains in MWMA boundaries on both sides for 2.5 miles except for a small homestead LBD just before takeout.
11. Malmaison WMA Boat Ramp – Mile 28.2
The ramp is LBD a few hundred feet down river of the homestead and easily identified by stone riprap.
Concrete public boat ramp with long shallow slope. May be covered in mud and silt. Adjacent parking area.
Section 3 – Malmaison WMA to Avalon
Length: 8.6 miles
Time: 3.5 hours
Put In: Malmaison WMA Boat Ramp
Take Out: Whaley Bridge CR 542
This section begins in Malmaison Wildlife Management Area (MWMA), one of the most diverse and unique in the state, with 10,000 acres spanning the hills and delta floodplains. Mature forests, oxbow lakes, cypress-tupelo swamps, and seasonal wetlands are abundant, providing an extensive wildlife habitat. Hiking trails and primitive campsites are located near the boat ramp.
From the intersection of Hwy 7 and Hwy 35 at Holcomb, head west on Hwy 7 South for 6 miles. Turn right onto Malmaison Rd. and drive 3.4 miles. At the intersection of Float Rd. and Malmaison Rd. veer right passing the Malmaison information sign on the left. Drive 800 feet and turn right to stay on Malmaison Rd. for 1.1 miles. The road turns left just before the river, and the landing is through the trees on the right.
11. Malmaison WMA Boat Ramp – Mile 28.2
MWMA boundaries LBD and private land RBD.
12. Cypress Brake – Mile 29.4
Cypress brake RBD less than .25 miles west of the river. MWMA borders both sides of river.
13. McIntyre Scatters – Mile 31.4
McIntyre Scatters is considered one of the best birding areas in the region for winter waterfowl and migratory songbirds in the summer. Access by foot is RBD and contains extensive amounts of forests and wetlands. The Scatters has a separate boat ramp is worth exploring by boat as a side trip. This same point LBD marks MWMA land for exploring the bottomland forests and oxbow lakes.
14. Grass Patch Lake Sandbar – Mile 33.6
One of the last few sandbars before takeout.
15. Little Tippo Bayou – Mile 36.2
A narrow bayou RBD shaded by arching trees that flows from the Tallahatchie National Wildlife Refuge through 6 Mile Lake, McIntyre Scatters and McIntyre Lake before entering the Yalobusha.
16. Potacocowa Creek – Mile 36.5
As Whaley Bridge CR 542 comes into view, Potacocowa is LBD at an acute angle. It is a spring fed stream shaded by towering trees on both sides and worth exploring when water levels are high.
17. Whaley Bridge CR 542 – Mile 36.7
Two options for take-out: LBD under the bridge which may have steep bank or LBD along river bank 200 feet down river of the bridge.
Whaley Bridge CR 542 does not have a boat ramp. Access to river is either from the steep bank under bridge or 200-300 ft down river along the bank. Ropes recommended to maneuver boats. The path from CR 542 to the river is steep. Parking on CR 542 may be necessary.
Section 4 – Avalon to Downtown Greenwood
Length: 12.5 miles
Time: 5 hours
Put In: Whaley Bridge CR 542
Take Out: Public boat ramp on East Claiborne in downtown Greenwood
The last section starts in Avalon near the home of blues legend, Mississippi John Hurt. There are opportunities to explore U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services land and many shaded creeks along the way. Point Leflore is a Civil War site and also the confluence of three rivers: the Yalobusha, Tallahatchie and Yazoo.
The Yazoo River Nature Trail located just east of the boat ramp in Greenwood is a Natural Heritage Area containing over 45 acres of wooded hiking and biking trails.
From the intersection of Hwy 82 and Hwy 7 in Greenwood, head north on Hwy 7N for 9.1 miles. Turn left onto CR 542 and drive .3 miles to bridge. Access is under the bridge or 200-300 feet down river along bank.
17. Whaley Bridge CR 542 – Mile 36.7
18. Teoc Creek – Mile 38.5
Tea colored shaded stream home to an abundance of birds and wildlife and worth exploring when water levels allow.
19. Mossy Lake Sandbars – Mile 41.2 N33.593888, W90.135891
Sandbars on both sides of the river at distinct 90 degree bend near Mossy Lake.
20. USFW Area – Mile 43
The Robertson Tract, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) public land borders the river LBD for .5 miles and marked by blue and white duck signs. Less than 1000 feet southeast of the river LBD through the woods is a shallow lake home to numerous species of waterfowl and migratory birds such as roseate spoonbill, wood stork, anhinga and white ibis.
21. Big Sand Creek – Mile 45.4
Sandy stream navigable by boat when water is high and perfect for wading when water is low.
22. Point Leflore – Mile 46.5
Point Leflore is the confluence of the Yalobusha, Tallahatchie and Yazoo Rivers. This was also the site of Fort Leflore during the Civil War. The Acadia Confederate Riverboat is a few hundred feet down river LBD and can be seen when water is low.
23. Greenwood Boat Ramp – Mile 48.8
The clock tower of the Leflore County Courthouse comes into view half a mile before take-out. The boat ramp is RBD between Veterans Bridge and historic Keesler Bridge.
Long concrete ramp with average slope. May be covered in mud and silt. Spacious paved parking area.
The Yalobusha River water level is controlled by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Before paddling, check the Whaley gage for river level at rivergages.com.
|9 – 10 ft||Low Sluggish knee-deep water. Snags. Sandbars are plentiful.|
|11 – 15 ft||Med Ideal paddling. Decent current. Sandbars are plentiful.|
|16 – 20 ft||High Swift current. Most sandbars are submerged.|
|21 + Flood||Not advisable for paddling.|
- Long distances between landings. Be prepared for emergencies.
- Fallen trees, sloughing banks, logjams.
- Use extra caution to explore woods during hunting season. Wear bright orange and make loud sounds if venturing into forest.
- Be aware of poison ivy, stinging nettle, insects and reptiles.
- River levels may fluctuate. Tie boats down. Use caution when camping on sandbars.
NOTE: This river is classified as navigable, which permits public use of the streambed, and, if necessary, the banks to portage any hazard. Any other use of private riverbanks without permission of the landowner can be considered trespassing.
Wildlife can be found on any section of the trail due to the expansive bottomland habitat, particularly in the Malmaison Wildlife Management Area and private hunting lands. Species that are found along the river include alligator, bats, beaver, bobcat, deer, fox, otter, raccoon, and a variety of moths and butterflies. Aquatic species include numerous types of frogs, turtles, snakes, crayfish, catfish, crappie, and bass.
Birding on the Yalobusha River
The Yalobusha River lies within the Mississippi Alluvial Valley and offers superb birding opportunities as this area is part of the Mississippi Flyway, a bird migration route for nearly half of all North American migrating waterfowl, shorebirds and neotropical songbirds. The bottomland habitat provides ideal conditions for a variety of permanent residents and migrating birds such as the bunting, cuckoo, tanager, warbler, hummingbird, swallow, kinglet, anhinga, wood stork, roseate spoonbill, ibis, heron, egret, pelican, duck, eagle, kingfisher, owl, and woodpecker.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Grenada Lake Field Office
P O Box 903
Grenada MS 38902-0903
For more information contact:
Mississippi’s Lower Delta Partnership
401 Walnut Street
Rolling Fork, MS 39159
Phone: (662) 873-6261
Hugh White State Park
3170 State Park Road
Grenada, MS 38902
Malmaison Wildlife Management Area
628 Malmaison Road
Greenwood Convention and Visitors Bureau
P.O. Drawer 739
Greenwood, MS 38935
111 E. Market St.
Greenwood, MS 38930
662-453-9197 or 800-748-9064
Grenada Tourism Commission
Grenada, MS 38901