Water Trail Description:
Hwy 14, Anguilla Bridge to Hwy. 16, Sunflower River Boat Ramp:
1. Anguilla Bridge Boat Launch
RBD downstream side of Hwy 14 Bridge
Short concrete ramp functional at medium water levels. At low water you will have to carry or drag your vessel down a series of muddy layers to the water’s edge. Paddler friendly residents live in area. Should be safe parking for daytrip. Arrange shuttle if going overnight.
2. Mouth of Big Widow Bayou
LBD 1/4 mile
Drainage for the area. Curves along old channels of the Mississippi River before breaking through and confluencing with the Sunflower River.
Gentle curves, steep banks, and open stretches are found along the first 5 miles of the Big Sunflower River. The river flows through a canyon of mud and collapsing sediment, which at low water can be challenging, especially in a head wind.
3. Chapel Landing
Mile 2.6, RBD
Above Chapel Landing a pile of giant masonry blocks are found, perhaps an old docking facility, or maybe a bridge abutment. Visible at low water.
4, Hickman Landing
Mile 2.7, RBD
The mouth of Plaquemines Bayou is found at Hickman Landing and here the Big Sunflower River turns abruptly eastward into a series of gentle curves.
5. Big Eddy
Frequent birds and animals are found in Big Eddy, where the river curves back northward momentarily and opens up into a large stillwater bay with low lying floodplain LBD and a high steep bank RBD. Big Eddy is a reminder of the powerful water flow once common on the Big Sun, now only occurring after days of torrential rainfall.
6. Dowling Bayou
Mile 5.7, LBD
Worthy of exploration for an intimate glimpse of the delta jungle and closer views of animals and tracks. Paddlers will find passage at all water levels.
7. Holly Bluff Cutoff
The river splits into two channels. To the left is the Holly Bluff Cutoff, a long straight canal that was carved in the 1940’s by the US Army Corps for flood protection. The right fork winds lazily into the woods beyond. You are now entering the single most wild and beautiful stretch of the entire 225-mile long Big Sunflower River! During high water if there is any flow the water will flow equally both directions. But at low water all water flows right into the undredged section — much to the delight of paddlers!
Luxuriant oak forests crowd the banks and several thick stands of large sycamores are seen in the first mile of this undredged section.
8. McCann Bayou
Mile 7.5, LBD
You can make a landing here and walk into the woods for a glimpse of the nearby Green Ash Greentree Reservoir, which is one of the many wetlands created intentionally by the Delta National Forest to mimic the conditions historically found in the great bottomland hardwood forests of the Mississippi Delta. Seasonally operated pumps fill the forest bottoms with water and provide winter habitat for ducks and other waders. Short small levees border the designated forests and contain the water.
Good Picnic Spot: The gentle slope at McCann Bayou makes an ideal place to stop for a picnic and to stretch your legs. Practice Leave No Trace principals and remove all waste and leave no sign of your visit except your footprints in the mud.
9. American Chute
Mile 7.7, RBD
This distributary runs parallel to the Big Sun several miles from upstream and re-enters the river in a deep slot canyon of mud. The adventuresome paddler can explore its steep slippery banks and be rewarded with a phantasmagoria of cypress roots, fallen trees and dark woods beyond.
10. Mud Lake Bayou Entrance
Mile 7.9, RBD
Mud Lake Bayou exits perpendicularly from the west and at medium to high water levels can be entered and explored from your vessel. Overhanging trees on both banks, fields to the south.
11. Green Ash Bayou
N32.885388 , W90.781375
Mile 8.5, LBD
A small bayou enters the river LBD hrough two large cypress trees, one leaning at a slight angle has been seen with distinct markings either from lightning strike or perhaps black bear marks clawing the bark up its height.
12. Mud Lake Bayou Exit
Mile 9.1, RBD
This small distributary re-enters the Big Sun at this point, spreading out over a shoals created from previous flood events.
13. Mouth of the Little Sunflower River
Mile 11.2, RBD
During rising waters you might notice a strong inflow to the right fork. If you follow the flow through this opening you will end up on the Little Sunflower, which meanders along the western border of Delta National Forest and will eventually spit you out back into the Big Sunflower dozens of miles downstream!
If you have enough daylight left over and extra energy to burn, enter the Little Sunflower for a view of a muddy wetlands, with the convergence of Choctaw Bayou from the northwest. Several miles downstream the Little Sun Rolling Fork Creek connects you to the town of Rolling Fork. In high water you can paddle through, but be ready for some bushwhacking!
The Big Sun speeds up noticeably and spreads out over a series of shallow shoals strewn thickly with mussel shells. Some maneuvering necessary along fallen trees and possible blockages. During low water you might have to do some dragging here. Be vigilant for strainers during fast rising waters. Be prepared to portage if necessary.
14. Privet Island
Mile 12, RBD
A half mile downstream you will float past a private concrete ramp, and then after another bend of the river past a single isolated island overgrown with swamp privet and water elm. The back channel of this island is well worth exploring for all of the tracks left in the mud and interesting piles of driftwood.
15. Cypress Bend
Leaving Privet Island you immediately wander into Cypress Bend which turns the river 180 degrees out of its westerly direction to exit flowing east into the Delta National Forest. Highway 16 follows the river along this section. The Big Sunflower meanders gently in an easterly course becoming south-easterly.
16. Secret Bayou
Mile 13.4, LBD
A pair of narrow bayous enter LBD. They are well worth exploring, especially the one further downstream known as Secret Bayou because it surreptitiously enters through a thicket of swamp privet .
17. Delta National Forest Campsite #74
Mile 13.5, RBD
Right bank descending at mile 13.5 there is a National Forest campsite (DNF #74) on the banks above (possible primitive take-out).
When the river channel starts curving increasingly southward you can start anticipating the Sunflower River Boat Ramp which appears at RBD at Mile 15.6.
18. Sunflower River Boat Ramp
Mile 15.6, RBD
This is a steep boat ramp with “ribbed” concrete for traction, and is usable at all water levels although sometimes it is covered with gooey slippery mud. Gravel parking area above not advised for overnight parking, but day parking should be okay.