Based on the answer here I would be exploring a cypress swamp in the Mississippi valey north of the 35th Parrell.

If I canoe in a lake or on a river, I always have a pretty good idea where I am, and my entrance and exit points are pretty easy to identify. I have no idea about what it is like inside a cypress swamp. What is the risk of getting lost? If there is a significant risk, are there any locations or attributes that make it less likely I will get lost?

  • 6
    Not to worry. An alligator will find you.
    – ab2
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 17:19
  • In keeping with the plural tags, I am going to put the swamp tag back as swamps once swamp is burned Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 20:46
  • @CharlieBrumbaugh, I thought you were talking about putting a swamp tag in after the swamp was burned! Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 22:44
  • 1
    @Sue Trust me, that sentence will make more sense tomorrow. Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 22:48
  • 2
    @Sue Technically swamps are drained not burned Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 1:07

2 Answers 2


You have a leg up as far as canoeing experience is concerned, but there's a definite risk of getting lost, especially the first time you're doing swamp canoeing. The terrain is different from other types of waters you've traveled, but according to my friends who have done swamp canoeing, there are things that you can do, both before you go, and during your trip, which will make it easier and more fun. This advice is based on their travels, not my own, but I believe it's pertinent and hope it's helpful.

Since you've picked your specific spot, check with local people who have navigated it before. Ask where the landmarks are, to help keep yourself oriented. Ask where the pitfalls are, such as areas of deeper drop off or a higher concentration of vegetation or other marine growth or rocks which might surprise you.

If it's a well-documented area for swamp travel, look for a guidebook which you can study beforehand. If it will fit in your gear, take it with you. Take a smaller map too.

If you know you'll have reliable GPS service, take the GPS with you. Program it beforehand, including stops at areas you may want to pull out along the way, either for safety or for sightseeing. Even if you have a GPS, take a compass.

Check weather forecasts before you go. If fog or stormy weather arises, it will make it harder for you to see where you are, especially since swamps are generally dark and murky already. Even if you're experienced in canoeing in difficult weather, this type of situation is different, so you might want to choose a time where the forecast is for clear skies. When the sun shines down into the swamp, you can see even subtle changes in the terrain under the water, which are helpful. Time of day is easier to measure by sun also.

If you're alone, let someone know where and when you'll be going. Check in with them when you get back, so they don't worry!

Take a camera! The swamp areas will give you glimpses or wildlife in, out, and under the water which you may never see in other areas where you canoe.


I would say that the risks would be fairly significant, due to how things are going to be fairly flat and the banks wills have lots of vegetation, both of which will limit the amount of distance you can see. Also, in any areas like that, things will start to look the same after a while.

The tricks I would recommend for avoiding getting lost are,

  • Stop and look behind you from time to time, this way that path back doesn't look unfamiliar when heading the other direction.

  • Bring a GSP with tracking ability and a map overlay. That you can tell where you have been to make it possible to retrace your route, and the map will show where you are in relation to the start/end.

  • Mark the start and end on the GPS beforehand.

  • Bring printouts of Google Earth in the area you are going to. These can be quite a bit better than a map.

  • 1
    If there is a dedicated map for the water/swamp, bring that as well.
    – Willeke
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 19:21

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