By Andrea Brown Ross
Are you ready for a little outdoor adventure that provides both physical and mental benefits for the family? Then hit the trail! Hiking offers both mental and physical health benefits. Considered an aerobic exercise, hiking can help improve overall fitness, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, help prevent and control diabetes, and improve muscle tone. The mental benefits include lifting one’s mood, increasing attention span by removing technological distractions, and strengthening social relationships when using the buddy system. With the hot, summer sun it can be hard to beat the heat in the South. But with a little planning, families can enjoy some of the best trails in North Mississippi.
Why not try DeSoto County’s newly refurbished Hernando DeSoto Park near Walls? Its view of the Mississippi River makes it a unique spot! The 41 acre park, formerly known as Bass Landing, has a new overlook, benches and grills that were designed with families in mind. The three mile walking and hiking trail will also be able to accommodate biking and horseback riding by next year. Fishing and overnight camping permits are available. For those not having a permit, the park closes half an hour after sunset and opens half an hour before sunrise. A collaborative effort with the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors, the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Levee Board, and the Mississippi Wildlife Fisheries and Parks, this is just the first step in creating a Greenways corridor that will touch all cities in DeSoto County.
Want to add variety to your hike, and you’re willing to drive a little south of DeSoto County? Try Enid Dam conveniently located off of I-55. The Beech Hollow Nature Trail, Permission Hill Multi-Purpose Trail, and Water Valley Landing Trail are all approximately half a mile in length. The nine mile Rocky Ridge Horse Trail is a hiking and equestrian trail. Be sure and stop at Ford’s Well while you’re in the area. The 20 mile Spyglass Hill Trail passes by it, but you can also skip the hike and simply drive to it. A historical site from the early 1900s with turn-of- the-century buildings, makes this a nice spot to stop and picnic. Meander through the site and learn about the well that provided water believed to possess therapeutic benefits.
With miles of hiking trails, fishing, playgrounds, ballparks, and picnic areas, you’re sure to make a day of it. Looking for a place to get in out of the sun or avoid that sudden, summer storm? Visit the North MS Fish Hatchery’s Visitor Education Center at Enid Lake. Open Tuesday – Saturday, the hatchery is a great place to spend an hour or two. A small museum, aquarium, and fish hatchery are located there. With admission prices ranging from $2.00 – $2.50 and fish food $1.00 a bag, this is not only budget friendly, but educational and fun, too. Children under the age of three and active military are not charged for admission. Check out their website to learn more about their upcoming special events. Director of the Visitor Center, Emily-Jo Wiggins, shares, “A trip to Enid Lake and the North MS Fish Hatchery’s Visitor Education Center provides visitors with so many opportunities for learning about our natural resources and enjoying those same resources.”
When planning a family hike, a little bit of prep work can go a long way. Besides knowing the length of the trail, is it well maintained? Wear closed toe, comfy shoes. Beware of snakes, poison ivy, and ticks. Are pets allowed? Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke in humans and pets. Stay hydrated. Planning ahead can make hiking an enjoyable experience for years to come. Happy trails to you!
Andrea Brown Ross is a writer who enjoys making memories with her family while exploring the backstory and backroads of Mississippi.
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