We’ve done a fair amount of hiking – it’s just about my favorite outdoor activity – but even so, there are several great hikes right close to home that I still haven’t gotten around to. I’m sure if I thought a little longer I could come up with another 5-10 great local hikes that I need to prioritize on my to-do list.
Tally Creek Loop
The Tally Creek Loop is part of the Clear Springs recreation area at Homochitto National Forest near Meadville, Mississippi. Some of the kids and I have gone hiking at the other Clear Springs trail, Richardson Creek, but the literature and signs at Clear Springs said that the Tally Creek loop was closed indefinitely.
Despite the trail ostensibly being closed, when we were there last, there were a lot of hikers ignoring the signs and doing the Tally Creek loop. I asked a local hiking guru what he thought of that and he said there is probably a bridge out or something like that, and that with no money flowing in for trail maintenance it’s probably easier for the Park Rangers to just declare the trail closed even though it is probably still easily passable.
I guess if a hypothetical hiker were willing to disregard the literature and the signs, and if that hypothetical hiker were willing to do a little bushwhacking wherever the trail is damaged, and if that hypothetical hiker were not adverse to some stealth camping, then the Tally Creek Loop at Homochitto National Forest might be a pretty cool destination!
Rocky Springs is one of the five remaining segments of the old Natchez Trace that are maintained by the Park Service. It runs alongside the new Parkway from around mile marker 52 to mile marker 59. All of my hiking on the Natchez Trace has been farther south, at Potkopinu, and I haven’t made it to Rocky Springs but some of my buddies have and they enjoyed it.
Yockanookany is an Indian (Choctaw or Chickasaw?) word meaning something like, “Catfish land.” The Yockanookany trail is a 24-mile segment of the Natchez Trace that runs just west of the Ross Barnett Reservoir and the Pearl River just northeast of Jackson, Mississippi.
For hikers with a penchant for the historical, the Yockanookany trail includes several points of interest, including the old Upper Choctaw Boundary, the old West Florida Boundary, the Cypress Swamp boardwalk, the Boyd site (6 Indian burial mounds) and Brashear’s Stand (an inn operated by Turner Brashears in the early 1800’s).
Al Scheller Memorial Hiking Trail
Al Scheller was a Ranger at Vicksburg National Battlefield Park and he blazed the trail that now bears his name. This is not the 14-mile road hike around the perimeter of the park, it is a 12-mile compass hike through the rough terrain of the interior.
We have been advised by the Rangers that the Al Scheller trail is sufficiently rough and wooded that it is extremely inadvisable except in the winter after the first freeze. Actually, I think the Ranger’s exact words were, “snakes the size of my thigh out there!”
Shockaloe is a multi-purpose horse & hiking trail in Bienville National Forest near the town of Morton, Mississippi. The name Shockaloe comes from a Choctaw word meaning, “Cypress tree.”
Some of my buddies have described Shockaloe as “flat as a pan” and otherwise unremarkable, But some of the Forest service literature describes it as a sort of a Jewel of the eye of the Forest service because it is a fine example of managed pine forests and prescribed burning and wildlife management.
Tuxachanie is about 12 miles south of Wiggins Mississippi in Desoto National Forest, and as such, I would guess that the terrain and flora and fauna would be similar to the Black Creek National Hiking Trail, also near Wiggins in Desoto. The name comes from an Indian phrase meaning something like, “potsherds lie here.”
If you are in the mood for a hike a little closer to home than Kilimanjaro or Mount Kosi, a fantastic guidebook is Johnny Malloy’s Hiking Mississippi: A Guide To 50 Of The State’s Greatest Hiking Adventures (State Hiking Guides Series).