When you’re craving a little adventure, forget traveling to faraway lands because you can find everything you’re looking for right here in Mississippi. Between the climate, natural beauty, and abundance of wide open spaces, the state has become a year-round destination for adventure seekers. From popular trails to state parks, these 12 places are just waiting to be explored.
1. The Longleaf Trace, Hattiesburg to Prentiss
Part of the state’s Rails to Trails program, this 41-mile trail is perfect for walking, running, biking, skating, and horseback riding. Those traversing the Longleaf Trace will have ample opportunities to explore the region’s culture and cuisine as the path passes through several towns.
2. The Tanglefoot Trail, Houston to New Albany
The longest of the state’s Rails to Trails’ conversions, the Tanglefoot Trail spans 43.6 miles, and takes adventure seekers on a history-filled journey through fields, forests, meadows and wetlands, navigating the same paths as the Chickasaws and Meriwether Lewis.
3. Natchez Trace, Natchez to Nashville, Tennessee
This 450-mile foot trail, known as the "Old Trace," was travelled by traders, missionaries, early settlers, and Indians for thousands of years. Today, visitors to the Natchez Trace can select from five different trails and take a one-of-a-kind historical stroll filled with rocky outcroppings, steep ridges, the “sunken” section of the trace, and numerous significant Indian mounds.
4. Tishomingo State Park, Tishomingo
Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Tishomingo State Park is filled with trails once walked by the Indians known to have occupied the area as early as 7,000 B.C. The park’s unique landscape, which includes massive rock formations and fern-filled crevices that can’t be found anywhere else in the state, means visitors are afforded the perfect combination of scenic beauty and history.
5. The Windsor Ruins, Port Gibson
Built in the mid 1800s, the Windsor Plantation once encompassed a whopping 2,600 acres. The stunning mansion survived the Civil War but met its demise when a houseguest left a lit cigar on the balcony, causing the mansion to burn to the ground. The columns, balustrades, and iron stairs were all that was left of the once sprawling estate, resulting in what has become one of the state’s most recognizable attractions.
6. Clark Creek Nature Area, Woodville
Considered one of Mississippi’s “most beautiful outdoor treasures,” the Clark Creek Nature Area encompasses more than 700 acres and features a mixed hardwood and pine forest as well as numerous waterfalls, some as tall as 30’.
7. Petrified Forest, Flora
The only one of its kind in this part of the country, Flora’s Petrified Forest has been 36 million years in the making, and offers visitors the chance to view amazing fossils that exhibit perfectly preserved details. Exploring this natural wonder is a breeze thanks to a self-guided nature trail, which includes many points of interest and informative markers.
8. The Greenville Cypress Preserve, Greenville
Referred to as “a natural treasure in the Mississippi Delta,” the Greenville Cypress Preserve spans 16 acres and features a diverse terrain that includes sloughs, an area of mixed woodland, and a meadow, all of which can easily be viewed from the boardwalk that navigates the preserve or the on-site observation deck.
9. Sky Lake, near Belzoni
Believed to have been occupied by Native Americans several thousand years ago, the area that is now Sky Lake is actually an abandoned channel of the Mississippi River. The area is home to several ancient bald cypress trees in varying sizes, with the biggest measuring 47’ in circumference and 70’ in height – one of the tallest in the state. Visitors can take in all Sky Lake has to offer via a 1700’ boardwalk or a 2.6-mile paddling trail, both of which navigate the ancient forest.
10. Shroomdom, Poplarville
Hidden in the small town of Poplarville, this 160-acre property is made up of pine groves, hardwoods, and bottomlands, creating an ideal environment for mushroom growth. Owners Leilani and Tony Rosenbaum opened Shroomdom in 2011, inviting guests to come and hike one of several trails, search for mushrooms, and learn about different varieties of the fungi.
11. Vicksburg National Military Park, Vicksburg
While this park is most known for its rich military history, it also has a lot to offer in the way of natural resources. Aside from the relatively rare loess bluffs that fill the area, the Vicksburg National Military Park is also home to some of the oldest second-growth trees in the state as well as Mint Springs Bayou Waterfall. Navigating the area is a breeze thanks to several trails, and be sure to bring your camera as the park is a haven for bald eagles and warblers as well as reptile and plant species that are of “special concern to biologists.”
12. Gulf Islands National Seashore, Cat Island to the Okaloosa Area east of Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Featuring beaches, wildlife sanctuaries, islands, bayous, nature trails, campgrounds, and historic sites, such as Fort Massachusetts (pictured), the Gulf Islands National Seashore is an explorer’s paradise!
Have you been to any of the places mentioned above? What are some other place in the state you love to explore? Tell us in the comments section below.