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Explore Mississippi’s beautiful state parks
By Evan O’Donnell
MSU Extension Service
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippians are blessed with some amazing public lands across the state that offer opportunities for families, organized groups and individuals to experience the beauty of the state and its many outdoor recreational activities.
My fondest childhood memories are times my family spent together outside. We picked blueberries, apples, pumpkins and our own Christmas trees. Trips to the lake or visits with family who lived out in the country in Wisconsin are up there as some of my favorite experiences. We got outside and away from television and other distracting electronics.
Today, most of us have come down with a serious case of Nature Deficit Disorder because of the time we spend inside and in front of electronic screens. The cure to this disorder can be found in some of the more popular outdoor areas across the state. These spots offer family friendly options that can create a lifetime of memories at very reasonable prices.
No matter what region of the state you live in, it isn’t hard to find some incredible opportunities on public lands for a wide range of activities and outdoor experience levels.
Tishomingo State Park, located in northeast Mississippi, has won numerous awards for the activities it offers. Found in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain chain, this park provides fishing, a pool, hiking trails, disc golf, canoeing on Bear Creek and fields to explore. It is a biological hotspot that has recently erupted with spring flowers. Tishomingo offers space for family reunions, sites for primitive and RV camping, and cabins for those who don’t wish to rough it or don’t have an RV.
Paul B. Johnson State Park in the southeastern region of our state is another award-winning park. Located just south of Hattiesburg, Paul B. Johnson boasts fishing, boating and hiking/biking opportunities. A fairly new splash pad/waterpark provides yet another way to enjoy some relief from the hot Mississippi summer. Primitive camping, RV camping and cabins offer places to rest after a long day of fishing, disc golf, boating on the lake or picnicking with the family.
Hugh White State Park, located in northwest Mississippi, has some of the state’s best fishing at this time of year. The crappie fishing at this park brings visitors from all over to test their skills. The lake is also stocked with bass, bream and catfish. Located on Grenada Lake, this park offers options for RV and primitive camping, as well as cabins. If you aren’t out on the lake fishing or boating, you can enjoy yourself in the pool or on the mini-golf course.
The Clark Creek Natural Area, found in the southwestern portion of the state, provides nearly 700 acres for hiking, photography and exploration. Within this natural area, you can visit a number of waterfalls, enjoy hiking trails or spend your time bird-watching. Overnight camping and hunting are prohibited on this property, so if that is what you want to do on your trip, you may consider another spot.
Mississippi is a beautiful state to experience year-round. Once you decide on a part of the state to visit and the activities you want to participate in, it shouldn’t be difficult to find a place to enjoy.
Time to get outside and explore! Find more information on our state parks at https://www.mdwfp.com/parks-destinations/ms-state-parks.aspx.
Contact: Evan O’Donnell, 662-325-4163
Editor’s Note: Extension Outdoors is a column authored by several different experts in the Mississippi State University Extension Service.