Giant bass, open-air concerts and historic landmarks are among the draws of Mississippi State Parks for families. Here are some of the best, and what to do when you get there:
Minutes from the University of Mississippi, this State Park surrounds a 60-acre lake. The ideal hideaway for students and families, the park has numerous sports grounds, and hiking and biking trails. Picnic in the sunshine, take a boat out on the lake, or catch a concert at the Amphitheater.
Less than three hours from New Orleans, the magnolias and undulating hills of Percy Quin play host to water sports fans and equestrians. Constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the thirties, this stunning park stretches for nearly two thousand acres, of which a quarter is taken up by the park's gleaming lake. Wildlife rustles and flutters beside the hiking and biking trails that attract families from far and wide.
Just ten miles from the Mississippi River's oldest settlement, with its 19th-century mansions, the largest bass in state history was plucked from Natchez Lake. Since then, families have come here in search of a bass bigger than 18.15 pounds, but to no avail. Perhaps you will be the one to land Mississippi's newest monster fish. If not, there's always the Homochitto National Forest to hike and the Mississippi River to canoe on nearby.
Appalachian outings, Presidential picnics and Emu Farms are a few of the reasons to don your boots and explore the state's great outdoors. Stretch your legs in these Mississippi State Parks:
On the lower slopes of the Appalachian mountain range, Tishomingo State Park is firmly grounded in state history. Archaeology in the area has identified that Paleo Indians lived here nearly ten thousand years ago. The park is named for the leader of the Chickasaw nation, and retains the fairytale beauty that entranced this people. Vast rock faces reach to the skies, while low-lying wild flowers sway in the breeze beside the trails that wind through this park.
Spilling over into Georgia, the park's 9,000 acres are prime backpacker habitat. Forty miles of hiking trails invite you to spend time among pines, gentle streams, and cascading falls. And Roosevelt once picnicked at Dowdell's Knob, where a likeness of him stands today. Explore on horseback if you get tired of trekking.
Just beneath the Alabama state line, Clarkco State Park sneaks into the state with 815 acres of undulating emerald woodland. Follow the nature trail for five miles of spectacular scenery and your chance to see local species. Close by, you can check out Bienville National Forest, Mathis Orchards, and Bamboo Emu Farm in Meridian.
Whether your preference is for archery or fishing, jet skiing or canoeing, these Mississippi State Parks offer exhilarating sporting opportunities around every corner. Here are some of the top spots in the state:
Perched atop a rocky cliff, J.P. Coleman State Park is a water sports paradise. White sails glide silently across Pickwick Lake, while swimmers bob and waterskiiers make waves. Fishermen catch Smallmouth Bass in the lake's crystalline waters, and canoeists paddle in its coves. Explore the perimeter via the bike trails, hike to the park's gurgling waterfall, or enjoy a picnic by the mighty Tennessee River.
Scented pine forests are the key feature of this natural haven, along with dogwoods and ancient oaks. These serene forests are the perfect venue for visitors in search of Mississippi's most dynamic adventure sports destinations. Waterskiing, canoeing and jet skiing on the gleaming lake, biking the park trails, and baseball are some of the outdoor activities you can enjoy here. Relax on the beach or at the picnic tables in the sunshine after all the fun and games.
Stocked with bass, bream and catfish, Hugh White is roughly equidistant between Memphis, Tennessee and Jackson, making it a convenient fishing vacation destination. Nearby, you can try your hand at archery at the Cocchuma Range, or hike in Holly Springs National Forest.