BEST AREAS FOR WILDERNESS CAMPING
NATIONAL FORESTS IN MISSISSIPPI
Mississippi has six National Forests which are dispersed around the state. Relatively little printed material about these areas is currently available. A new Recreation Guide for the National Forests is expected to be issued in the near future, and this should offer more complete information.
The six Forests are: Bienville National Forest (178,000 acres), De Soto National Forest (501,000 acres), Delta National Forest (60,000 acres), Holly Springs National Forest (147,000 acres), Homo-chitto National Forest (180,000 acres), and Tom-bigbee National Forest (66,000 acres).
A considerable range of scenery is found in these forests, with terrain which includes steep slopes as well as flatlands. There are cypress swamps and savannas, bottomland hardwoods and pines, including a 180-acre virgin stand, along with azalea and mountain laurel.
Of particular interest are the 5,000-acre Black Creek Wilderness and the 940-acre Leaf Wilderness, both of which are in De Soto National Forest. A portion of Black Creek, one of several rivers, has National Wild and Scenic River status. There are also some lakes and many streams. Wildlife includes deer, coyote, armadillo, and turkey.
Activities: Of the six National Forests, De Soto has the most hiking and backpacking trails. Especially notable are the 41-mile Black Creek Trail (see entry page 187) and the 22-mile Tuxachanie Trail. Difficulty ranges from easy to moderate.
There are several horse trails, including both the 25-mile Longleaf Trail and the 12-mile Big Foot
National Recreation Horse Trail in De Soto, the 23-mile Shockalow Horse Trail in Bienville, and the 18-mile Witch Dance Trail in Tombigbee National Forest.
Canoeing is popular on a 40-mile stretch of Black Creek, along with some other rivers and streams. Kayaking is also possible. Canoe rentals are available nearby. Fishing is another option. Hunting is permitted in season.
Camping Regulations: Camping is allowed almost anywhere in the six National Forests, except near public recreation areas or where posted otherwise. Choose campsites which are at least 100 feet from trails and streams. No permits are necessary.
Campfires are allowed except during periods of forest fire risk. Winters here are relatively warm and summers hot and buggy, so fall through spring are the best seasons to visit.
For Further Information: National Forests in Mississippi, 100 W. Capitol St. Suite 1141, Jackson, MS 39269; (601)965-4391.