Sometimes you want to get outside but you want something of an in-between nature – in-between the couch and the woods. How about a road hike where you are never more than a couple of steps from potential rescue and you probably even have cell reception the whole time!
Mississippi has many natural wonders that you should definitely explore, but there are also some good paved walking trails that you might want to add to your list.
Of course, the roads in your neighborhood would probably make for good walking, as would any of the State Parks. But let’s assume for now that you want to get away from your regular beaten path to see something new.
Here are 5 great road hikes, most of which are reachable from most any part of Mississippi.
Vicksburg Battlefield Park – The National Battlefield Park at Vicksburg is a 14-mile hike that is paved the whole way. It is very hilly, so I’d rate this one as a moderate difficulty. It is also obscenely hot during the summer, so I’d advise to only do this one from late fall through early spring. Take a cell phone and plenty of water and not much else, and this trail will give you some exercise, a touch of nature, and a refresher on your Civil War history.
Longleaf Trace – Longleaf Trace is a paved multi-use rail-trail that runs from downtown Hattiesburg, MS about 40 miles through the towns of Sumrall, Bassfield, and Carson, to Prentiss, MS.
Tanglefoot Trail – Another rail-trail, this time in Northern Mississippi. The 44-mile Tanglefoot Trail (Mississippi’s longest rail-trail) runs from New Albany, MS through Ingomar, Ecru, Pontotoc, Algoma, and New Houlka, to Houston, MS. Even though this one is way up North, you can still expect extreme heat and humidity to be crushing in the summer – so be prepared with plenty of water.
Natchez Trace Parkway– The 440-mile Natchez Trace Parkway runs from Natchez, MS diagonally through Mississippi and a tiny corner of Alabama to Nashville, TN. There are several segments in Mississippi that are designated for hiking, including Potkopinu, Rocky Springs, Yockanookany, and Blackland Prairie – but there is nothing to stop you from walking anywhere on the trace that you like. Traffic is strictly regulated and drivers are used to seeing hikers and cyclists, so it ought to be fairly safe so long as you hike on the left side of the pavement.
Highway 90 – If you like the beach but don’t feel like getting sandy or wet, there is plenty of road/sidewalk walking available on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The 25 miles of highway 90 from Henderson Point through Pass Christian, Long Beach, and Gulfport, to Biloxi (and beyond) has continuous or near-continuous sidewalk or walkways – nearly all of which is only steps away from the beach and within 100 yards of the Gulf.