Bayou deView, beginning in Poinsett County and then flowing generally south by southwest through parts of extreme northwest Cross, southeast Jackson, Woodruff and Monroe Counties of northeastern Arkansas to its confluence with the Cache River just north of Clarendon, is formerly a river that has now become a swampy bayou due to channelization for agricultural production that occurred many years ago. The area is dense vegetation in the form of Tupelo, Bald Cypress, Hickory, Pine and other native trees of the hardwood and softwood families. The bayou sits among some of the largest remaining natural bottomland hardwood forests in North America, and is home to over 50 species of wild animals including black bears, bobcats, river otters, beavers, cougars, armadillos, possums, raccoons, deer and others. It is also the natural home to over 48 species of reptiles and amphibians including water moccasins, copperheads and timber rattlesnakes, as well as several species of watersnakes including the diamondback, banded, broadbanded and common watersnakes, all of which can be found in abundance, though they are usually very docile and timid. Also found here are over 240 species of songbirds and game birds. Most recently, Bayou deView has gained international notariety because of sightings of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, a large and beautiful bird thought to have been extinct for over 60 years due to deforestation by the timber industry.
Most of the lower bayou was off-limits to all but authorized conservationists from universities, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Arkansas Fish and Wildlife Department and The Nature Conservancy, all of whom were cooperating under the name of the Big Woods Conservation Partnership to protect the Ivory-billed Woodpecker and its habitat from 2005-2006. However, all of the bayou is now open for exploration on foot or from the bayou in boats. Some signs warning of areas being closed may remain, but they are not in effect, as the managed access areas have been discontinued.
The whole area is a throw-back to a bygone era. It is remote and very scenic, with few signs of civilization on its boundaries, and none to be found from the water. Beaver dams, deadfall debris, dense forests of tall trees, swampy marshes and the sounds of Mother Nature undisturbed are what await visitors to Bayou deView. A GPS, and the knowledge of GPS navigation, is strongly recommended for those wanting to hike or paddle the bayou and surrounding lands. Be sure to check with game wardens of the US Fish and Wildlife service or any of the National Wildlife Refuge officers in the area for advice on where you can and cannot go. Much of the surrounding land is privately owned, and access to some areas may require permission from landowners. Do not trespass without having first obtained permission.
Woodruff, Monroe and Prairie Counties of northeastern Arkansas. Bayou deView sits between Brinkley to the south and Jonesboro to the north. Memphis and Little Rock are the nearest major cities, each more than one hour away via IH 40.
Little Rock 80 miles; Fayetteville 260 miles; Fort Smith 230 miles; Texarkana 220 miles; Oklahoma City 410 miles; Kansas City 500 miles; Dallas 400 miles; Austin 590 miles; San Antonio 670 miles; Houston 520 miles; Albuquerque 950 miles; Phoenix 1,415 miles; Denver 1,040 miles; Salt Lake City 1,560 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination at the river and route taken. Bear in mind that Arkansas does not have many straight-line roads because of mountains and valleys around which they must pass. Allow adequate time based on distance and the often slow driving conditions that prevail in this area.)
Water quality is generally very good and relatively clean, though very unhealthy to drink due to the amount of bacteria and pathogens from dead and decaying plants, animal waste and stagnation. It is clear with a tannic acid brown color caused by decaying vegetation, and it gives the water a blackish coloration lending itself to the name "Black Swamp." The bayou usually has a very slow to almost imperceptable current except after a heavy local rainfall other than in narrow channels where the downriver current is quite obvious. During drought periods the water level can be very low and be non-navigable.
Bayou deView can generally be paddled any time of the year, weather permitting. During periods of low flow it is possible to easily paddle upriver, then back down. Runoff from heavy rains will make the going upriver a little more difficult. Unless prepared for heat, humidity and insects, Bayou deView may not be as desireable in the middle of the summer, but the forest cover offers excellent protection from direct sunlight. During extended periods of drought the current may be negligible to non-existent, though there will probably always be adequate water for flatwater paddling.
There are no major water hazards such as rapids or waterfalls on Bayou deView. There are, however, many snakes which could be a hazard if stepping on them or attempting to handle them. When left alone they pose almost no problems for humans, and will generally go out of their way to avoid human contact. Beaver dams and deadfall debris will necessitate getting out of a boat to portage over obstructions, and these could be hazards in high-water conditions, though are more a nuisance normally.
Public boat ramp at Possum Creek in the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), between SH 145 and SH 269 southwest of Morton; SH 306 public boat ramp in the Cache River NWR about 5 miles west of Hunter; SH 38 Public boat ramp on river right about 3 miles east of Cotton Plant in the Cache River NWR; SH 17 boat ramp northwest of Brinkley; US Highway 70 boat ramps (northeast and southwest corners); Off an unnamed road runing east off SH 302 just south of Allendale (actually on the Cache River just below the confluence.) Due to deadfall log jams and beaver dams on Bayou deView travel downriver for any considerable distance is difficult to impossible, so mileage between access points is not given. Downriver travel by boat in low water conditions is all but impossible without a lot of walking and dragging. Also, the nature of the bald cypress and water tupelo swamp necessitates navigation via GPS to find your way in and back out. If you are not comfortable with GPS navigation, or not in the company of somebody who is, then wandering deep into Bayou deView is not recommended.
There are no campgrounds located along Bayou deView, and camping there is not recommended due to the nature of the land surrounding the swampy bayou and the presence of snakes and other wildlife. Camping is not allowed within the boundaries of the National Wildlife Refuge unless specifically authorized by officials of the Cache River NWR. Public camping is available free of charge in Arkansas State Natural Areas and Wildlife Management Areas in close proximity to Bayou deView, including teh Rex Hancock Black Swamp Wildlife Management Area near Gregory, Horseshoe Lake off Highway 33 two miles south of Augusta and on the bank of the White River off Highway 70 at DeValls Bluff. Conventional accommodations are available in several nearby towns.
There are no known canoe or kayak outfitters located near Bayou deView. Several hunting outfitters are located in the general area. Contact Canoeman River Guide Services for guided tours in search of the elusive Ivory-billed Woodpecker.
Bayou deView is a remote, natural bald cypress and water tupelo swamp with a rich diversity of plant and animal life to capture your attention and make you forget all about the outside world. Whether hiking or paddling in search of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, game ducks or the enjoyment of nature photography, this place is very special. You will not be surrounded by throngs of people, and may not in fact, see anybody else other than those with your group while in the swamps surrounding the bayou. But, the swamp is home to about 240 species of songbirds and game birds, 48 species of reptiles and amphibians and numerous wild animals, most of which avoid seeing seen by humans out of a survival instinct, songbirds being the exception. Bayou deView is an excellent place to see many species of birds in one place, and while winter months are much more conducive to Ivory-billed Woodpecker searches it is the spring and summer months that bring out the colorful songbirds.
One thing you will definitely see during warmer months is an abundance of snakes, but have no fear - they are usually harmless unless bothered by being stepped on or handled. Most of them will flee upon your approach, or else lie very still and hope you do not notice them. You will see and hear woodpeckers, and if lucky, you might just get the chance to see an Ivory-billed Woodpecker. An absolute necessity would be a camera and plenty of film or digital media - photographic opportunities are everywhere. In warmer months be sure to pack the insect repellant because mosquitos are definitely NOT rare on Bayou deView.