navigation bar

Black River, Arkansas
Report by Marc W. McCord

Donaldson Black River WMA to Jacksonport
~ 126.1 miles

navigation bar River descriptions categorized by state First Aid and general safety information Southwest Paddler on-line store Southwest Paddler Yellow Pages listings Environmental issues and concerns Photos of rivers and surrounding areas Trip reports with photos How to advertise on Southwest Paddler Advertiser Index Internet links to related information and services Southwest Paddler visitor comments General disclaimer Product Reviews Federal and state navigation laws Credits for contributors Web Campfire

SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

The Black River forms from the merging of its West, Middle and East Forks in the St. Francois Mountains of St. Francois County near Lesterville, Missouri, and then flows generally southwardly through the Mark Twain National Forest into Arkansas south of Poplar Bluff, Missouri. From there, the river flows through Clay, Randolph and Lawrence Counties, taking the waters from the Current River near Pocahontas, and the Eleven Point and Spring Rivers just north of Black Rock and west of Old Davidsonville Historic State Park before winding its way to its White River confluence near Newport in Independence County.

In its upper reaches in Missouri and Arkansas, especially above Pocahontas, the Black River is a narrow, winding river with limited public access that would make it unsuitable for canoe or kayak trips, and it is much too flat and tame for any rafting excitement. The navigable reach is described as that section of the river between the Peach Orchard access off SH 280 Spur just west of Peach Orchard and northeast of Delaplaine down to the boat ramp on the White River below the confluence and SH 69 at Jacksonport Historic State Park. Access may be available above and below the reach described. The Black River terminates at its confluence with the White River at Jacksonport, Arkansas.

The river is very remote and surrounded by dense forestation. It is home to several wildlife management areas, so there is an abundance of animals, birds and fish all along the Arkansas run. Hunting and fishing are probably teh two most enjoyed recreational activities on and near the Black River above Pocahontas. Scenery is A+, and most of the time you will mot see many others on the river. A dirth of outfitters and campgrounds prevents the river from being heavily travelled by canoe, kayak or raft, though motorboaters seem to love it here. But, for those who are properly equipped and can arrange their own shuttles the Black River offers a feast of nature and solitude that is difficult to beat. And, an adequate number of access points allow for planning a trip of a few or many miles depending upon how much time you want to spend on the river.


Clay, Randolph and Lawrence and Independence Counties of northeastern Arkansas, starting just south of the Missouri State Line. This reach begins near Corning in Clay County and ends at Newport and the White River confluence near Jacksonport State Park about 80 miles northeast of Little Rock.

Distance from major cities

Jonesboro 50 miles; Little Rock 158 miles; Fayetteville 259 miles; Fort Smith 285 miles; Texarkana 302 miles; Memphis 116 miles; Dallas 477 miles; Austin 672 miles; San Antonio 750 miles; Houston 600 miles; Oklahoma City 520 miles; Albuquerque 1,007 miles; Phoenix 1,470 miles; Denver 1,052 miles; Salt Lake City 1,482 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination put-in on the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Best time to go

Arkansas can get cold in winter, and most people would be advised to avoid the Black River between November and February or march. The river, however, usually has adequate flow for good trips year round. The flatwater nature of the river makes it generally safe for less experienced paddlers, though care needs to be taken with regard to motorboats during fishing season and summer months. Also, much of the land around the Black River is used for hunting, so extreme care should be exercised during hunting season to avoid injury from firearms.

Hazards to navigation

Generally, this reach of the Black River is free from obstructions and hazards to navigation. The only real danger could possibly be from motorboat traffic on warm days, especially around sharp river bends where sound and visual references are severely limited. The river is tree-lined amost the entire way, so there is always the possibility of strainers or low-hanging limbs, especially after recent floods. With a drop of only about 68 feet in 126 miles the river generally has a very shallow gradient and slow currents.

River Access Points

Peach Orchard Boat Ramp (N 36° 17' 04.41" / W 090° 43' 21.55") off SH 280 Spur @ Clay CR 2001 on river left at 0.00 miles; Boat Ramp off Hite Road (N 36° 17' 25.31" / W 090° 48' 58.08") just east of US 67/US62 and ENE of Pocahontas at aboyt 11.26 miles; US Highway 67 Access (N36° 15' 11.95" / W 090° 58' 13.95") just below bridge on river right in Pocahontas at about 34.0 miles; Old Davidsonville Historic State Park boat ramp (N36° 09' 07.31" / W 091° 03' 16.12") on river right at about 49.32 miles; River Road access (N 36° 06' 52.27" / W 091° 04' 27.12") on river right just below the Spring River confluence at about 52.64 miles; Railroad Bridge (N36° 06' 15.55" / W 091° 05' 39.21") on river right in Black Rock at about 55.1 miles; Old Highway 63 Bridge (N 36° 04' 51.78" / W 091° 06' 57.34") on river left in Powhatan at about 57.45 miles; Possible acess at Lawrence CR 317 (N 35° 59' 51.41" / W 091° 10' 15.85") on river right at about 73.18 miles; Shirey Bay access (N 35° 58' 23.49" / W 091° 11' 06.95") off Lawrence CR 325 near intersection of CR 316 and CR 317 on river left at about 76.7 miles; Possible access on Lawrence CR 545 (N 35° 55' 15.89" / W 091° 11' 11.76") on river left at about 84.22 miles; Possible access off Jackson County Lower Lockhart Road (N 35° 50' 04.65" / W 091° 14' 53.06") on river right at about 96.67 miles; Elgin Road access (N 35° 46' 01.11" / W 091° 18' 00.50") at SH 37 on river right at about 109.8 miles; Jacksonport Boat Ramp (N 35° 38' 18.39" / W 091° 18' 45.35") just below the White River confluence on river right at about 126.1 miles.

There MAY be other available access points on county roads along the river, especially below the Spring River confluence, but vehicle parking would be very limited, if possible at all. These could possibly be used for emergency take-outs or access points with a shuttle bunny to drive your vehicle. Check with teh local Sheriff to confirm use of undesignated access points.

Campgrounds and accommodations

Old Davidsonville Historial State Park offers tent camping with electricity and water, showers, toilets, a marina and boat rentals, interpreative tours on land and water, a pavilion and other services near the confluence of teh Spring, Eleven Point and Black Rivers, as well as a Black River boat ramp. No other accommodations are known to exist along the river, though natural beach campsites are abundant.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

Old Davidsonville Historial State Park offers canoe, kayal, pedal boat and fishing boat rentals, shuttles and other services on the Black River. No other commercial outfitters are known to exist along this reach of the Black River.

Reviewer's comments

The Black River will not become like the Current in Missouri or the Guadalupe in Texas anytime in the near future. Its remoteness give it a special air of untouched nature at its finest. More animals than people will be found along the river, partially because it is so remote, and partially because of several wildlife management areas located on either side that encompass large amounts of acerage. The Black River is a photographer's dream!

There are some long paddles of 15 or more miles between access points, but there are also several sections of less than 12 miles for those who want a less energy-consuming trip. You won't get a lot of help from the current because the river is basically a flat stream with very little gradient, so this is a place for a relaxing trip through a part of the "Natural State" that is mostly untouched by civilization. Ironically, there are many roads and highways within a short distance of the river from top to bottom, though you will not know that from looking out in the middle of the river. And, you will see few signs of civilization as you paddle between tree-lined banks almost the entire length of the river. Even the cities you do encounter are just small towns.

Technical Data
Class Rating I
Length 126.1 miles
Minimum Flow cfs
Optimum Flow cfs
Maximum Flow cfs
First Put-in Peach Orchard Boat Ramp
Lat. / Long. N 36° 17' 04.41" / W 090° 43' 21.55"
Last Take-out Jacksonport Boat Ramp
Lat. / Long. N 35° 38' 18.39" / W 091° 18' 45.35"
Elevation 264 - 196 feet msl
Gradient 0.54 fpm av.
USGS Gauge Web: Corning
Black Rock
Elgin Ferry
Boats Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts
Season Year-round, weather permitting
Permits No

Eleven Point River map courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Eleven Point River map courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and the Arkansas Floaters' Guide. Click the map to view a full sized display.

Arkansas Canoe Club

Canoeman River Guide Service - Guided river trips in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah

Lone Star Paddler - the paddlesports web site of Marc W. McCord

Click the links below for information regarding the section of the White River and its tributaries where you want to paddle.

White River

[ White River Homepage ] [ Bull Shoals to Cotter ] [ Cotter to Buffalo City ] [ Buffalo City to Norfork ]
[ Norfork to Calico Rock ] [ Calico Rock to Sylamore ] [ Sylamore to Guion ]


[ Bayou Des Arc ] [ Big Creek ] [ Cache River ] [ Bayou DeView ] [ Current River ] [ Little Red River ]
[ Middle Fork Little Red River ] [ Archey's Fork Little Red River ] [ Strawberry River ] [ Wolf Bayou ]
[ Salado Creek ] [ North Sylamore Creek ] [ Crooked Creek ]

Southwest Paddler
Click to return to the Southwest Paddler Homepage
Home Page
Southwest Paddler

Arkansas Rivers Index
Canoeman River

Guide Services
Return to the homepage
Home Page

CobraGraphics - Web Designs with a Bite!

Send E-mail to:
Send E-mail
Marc "Canoeman" McCord
This web page designed, created and maintained by
Marc W. McCord dba CobraGraphics
© October 6, 2002. All rights reserved.
Last updated January 1, 2015

Copyright © 1997-2015, Marc W. McCord dba CobraGraphics. All rights reserved. Southwest Paddler, CobraGraphics and Canoeman River Guide Services are exclusive tradenames and trademarks of Marc W. McCord dba CobraGraphics. The textual, graphic, audio, and audio/visual material in this site is protected by United States copyright law and international treaties. You may not copy, distribute, or use these materials except for your personal, non-commercial use. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners. All original photographs on this web site are the exclusive property of Marc W. McCord or other designated photographers and may not be copied, duplicated, reproduced, distributed or used in any manner without prior written permission under penalty of US and International laws and treaties.