Bayou Sara Paddle

Bayou Sara Paddle

Click to see a PDF map of Bayou Sara!

 

This route will take you up Bayou Sara (aka Bayou Chaudpis aka Clap Creek) until the water gets too shallow.  Bayou Sara was once a major commercial route with the busy port city of the same name at its mouth.  But the bayou silted up from farming erosion and the city washed away in the Great Flood of 1927.  Today, Bayou Sara is a wide, gentle stream with the Cat Island swamp to the west and jungle-clad hills to the east.  The only reminders of its busy past are a few fragments of railroad trestles and some sawn-off cypress stumps along the banks, now far below the present ground surface.  Otherwise, it’s seemingly never been inhabited and is home to many water birds, alligators, snakes, and fish.

Conditions to Consider:
This is highly dependent on the stage of the Mississippi River at St. Francisville.  28-35 feet is about optimal.  Much higher and Bayou Sara will be part of the main flow as the River will flood Cat Island.  Much lower and you won’t get as far upstream, nor into Fountain Bayou.
Also, do not attempt within 1-3 days of a heavy rain in West Feliciana Parish or Wilkinson County, MS.  This will turn Bayou Sara into a raging torrent full of uprooted trees.
Be careful when landing and walking on the sandbars that become visible as Bayou Sara shallows.  These almost always have patches of quicksand on them.  The drier they look, usually the safer they are.
Finally, you must paddle ~1/4 mile in the Mississippi River itself to get from the boat ramp to the mouth of Bayou Sara.  Do not get more than 50 yards from the bank or you might never be seen again.
On the plus side, if you arrange your trip so that you return after 3:00pm, the Oyster Bar, conveniently located near the boat ramp, will be serving adult beverages.

Directions:
From Baton Rouge, go north on US 61 about 45 miles to St. Francisville.  Turn left at the red light onto LA 3057 (Commerce Street).  Turn left at the next red light (Ferdinand Street) and follow it until it ends at the boat ramp (former ferry landing).

This information has been generously provided by Jim Weller.