Cool fall weather will soon be here, which means it’s the perfect time to start planning some outdoor activities. Hiking is always a great choice in Mississippi since the state is full of beautiful scenery and varying terrain. Of course, we’re not all super experienced hikers, so steering clear of difficult trails that extend for miles upon miles is probably a good idea. Suitable for people of all skill levels, these 10 easy-to-moderate trails are less than five miles each and offer everything from lessons in history to up close and personal encounters with wildlife.
1. The Blackland Prairie Trail, Tupelo
The Blackland Prairie Trail is part of the Natchez Trace Parkway and is located just north of Tupelo. The 4.2-mile trail is a point-to-point trail that is considered good for all skill levels. Opened year-round, the trail traverses a river and beautiful fields of prairie flowers as well as offers access to interesting sites, such as the Chickasaw Village.
2. Bailey’s Woods/Rowan Oak Hiking Trail, Oxford
Combining Oxford’s heritage and scenic beauty, this ¼-mile trail will take you from the University of Mississippi campus through the beautiful greenery of Bailey’s woods, before ending at Rowan Oak, the home of award-winning author William Faulkner. Touring the grounds of the famous home is free, while house admission will cost you $5.
3. Dunn’s Falls Hiking Trail, Enterprise
Aside from being the site of the state’s tallest waterfall, Dunn’s Falls Water Park also offers some great hiking. The park’s scenic 3-mile trail winds through the surrounding woods and even includes a suspended overlook along the tranquil Chunky River. The secluded park has both primitive and developed camping, so you can easily turn your hike into an overnight adventure.
4. Swinging Bridge Nature Trail, Coldwater
Probably the closest you’ll ever get to walking on water, the Coldwater River used to flow in the present-day location of this trail. Rated as easy, the 1-mile trail is feasible for just about anyone and definitely worth the trek. Aside from being lined with informative panels on the history of the Arkabutla community, how the Coldwater River was redirected, and native plants and wildlife, the trail also includes a beautiful azalea garden.
5. Lefleur’s Bluff State Park Hiking Trail, Jackson
Perfect for escaping city life, LeFleur’s Bluff State Park has five trails, most of which loop and interconnect. Many of the trails can be accessed just behind the Museum of Natural Science. The old Mayes Lake Camp Store is also a good place to start since it offers access to the Purple Trail, which leads to the other trails. While each trail is different, they are all well under ½ mile and many feature paved walkways and boardwalks. Click
for more information.
6. Beaver Dam Hiking Trail, Brooksville
Located in the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, this point-to-point trail runs 1-mile each way, making for a 2-mile round trip. The popular path winds through bottomland hardwood forest, following the bank of Oktoc Creek. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the various species of wildlife that inhabit the area, including blue herons, wood ducks, and deer.
7. Baker’s Pond Hiking Trail, Holly Springs
Okay, so this may be the toughest of the trails on the list, but the effort is definitely worth it. The 1-mile trail traverses hilly Appalachian-like terrain and includes a graveled stairway trail, which leads to a ridge top overlooking the stunning Baker’s Pond. Click
for more information.
8. Rocky Springs Hiking Trail, Port Gibson
The Rocky Springs Trail has three different trail heads, but if it’s an easy hike you’re searching for, you’ll definitely want to stick with the trails in the Rocky Springs Campground. Located at milepost 54.8 on the Natchez Trace Parkway, the campsite is surrounded by several open trails and the ghost town of Rocky Springs. Begin your tour of Rocky Springs by taking the short loop trail, which starts across from the town’s only remaining structure, the Methodist Church. Along the way, you’ll find other interesting remnants from Rocky Springs, including a cemetery, post office safe, and cistern.
9. Chautauqua Park Tree Top Hiking Trail, Crystal Springs
Although only 2.5 miles, this trail is jam-packed with stunning scenery, including wooded rolling hills, flowing springs, and a beautiful 35-acre lake. And just to make sure you don’t miss a thing, the boardwalk portion of the trail is elevated. Keep your eyes peeled for the area’s “wild” residents, which include wading birds, waterfowl, birds of prey, deer, turkey, and foxes.
10. Woodpecker Hiking Trail, Brooksville
Think 20-30 minutes isn’t enough time for a scenic stroll? Think again. One of the shortest trails in the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, this ½-mile round trip trail winds through beautiful forests of loblolly pine and passes right by the tranquil Bluff Lake. You’ll definitely want to bring your camera along on this hike since all species of woodpeckers native to the southeast can be found on the trail.
On or off this list, what’s your favorite hiking trail in the state that is 5 miles or less?