Family Fitness: Hiking Edition – Explore Northeast Mississippi’s Many Trails for Fun Fitness for the Family
By Jennie Bradford Curlee
Getting fit at any age can be a struggle. But, when the whole family joins together to commit to a healthy lifestyle, all of the sudden fitness can be fun. If your family is looking to up your fitness game, look no further than the many and varied hiking opportunities in Northeast Mississippi, just waiting to be explored.
A Trail 8,000 Years in the Making
If your family likes its fitness with a side of history, look no further than the Natchez Trace Parkway. Headquartered in Tupelo, the Trace is one of the top ten national parks in the country, based on number of visitors. Consistently named one of the best hiking areas in Mississippi, the portion of this scenic byway that runs through Northeast Mississippi offers wonderful hiking opportunities for hikers of all ages.
The Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail provides five hiking sections totaling 65-miles of trail that run alongside the parkway. The Blackland Prairie Section is a six-mile hike that includes the Chickasaw Village Site at milepost 261.8. A half-mile interpretive trail at the Chickasaw Village Site identifies plants and their uses by the Chickasaw who lived in this area.
The Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center is located at milepost 266 in Tupelo. The interactive visitor center includes information about the flora and fauna along the Trace, as well as information about its original inhabitants. The Parkway Visitor Center Trailhead offers hikers a 12-mile out-and-back hike along the outskirts of Tupelo.
While You’re There: The Tombigbee Pioneer Group hosts Pioneer Day each month. Held August 24 and September 28 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, demonstrations include crafting, weaving, making cornhusk dolls, leather working, and other activities in which early Americans engaged during the 1700s to 1940s.
Walk In The Footsteps of the King
A young Elvis Presley was known to take a swim in Mud Creek while growing up in east Tupelo. Today, families can discover the Music Bend Nature Trail that runs along the banks of Mud Creek. This 2.5-mile trail includes signage that identifies local plants and trees, alongside beautiful views. Check out the Mud Creek marker on the Elvis’ Tupelo Driving Tour at the southern end of the trail.
There are two entrances to the Music Bend Trail, across from Fire Station #3 and the Tupelo Bark Park. Bring your four-legged family member along for the hike, and then let him romp and play with other canine friends at the city’s dog park.
While You’re There: The annual Family Camp Out at Veterans Park is September 27-28. Whether your family members are pros at camping out or just testing the waters, this event is for you. Cost is $5 per person and campers can set up camp at 4:00 pm. Plan your Music Bend Trail hike prior to or following the camp out for a weekend full of fitness fun.
Rails to Trails
Mississippi’s longest Rails to Trails conversion is located in the heart of Northeast Mississippi. The Tanglefoot Trail offers 46.3 miles of history, from the Chickasaw Native Americans who roamed this land to Meriweather Lewis, leader of the Lewis & Clark expedition, and other explorers. Park at the trail head in New Albany and begin your hike through several small North Mississippi towns. Bring a picnic lunch or grab a bite at one of New Albany’s many eateries, just steps from the trailhead, after you work up an appetite hiking.
While You’re There: Tallahatchie River Fest is a New Albany tradition. Held September 27-28, the festival includes a 5K race, live music, arts market, and more. Explore the festival before or after your Tanglefoot Trail hike.
With so many hiking opportunities in Northeast Mississippi, getting fit as a family will be a blast as you embark on your next great adventure.
Jennie Bradford Curlee is the public relations & international sales director for the Tupelo CVB. She and her family enjoy exploring the great outdoors, whether running, hiking, or cycling.
Looking for more? Check out these other great trails in some of Northeast Mississippi’s state parks.
Trace State Park
Situated between Tupelo and Pontotoc, Trace State Park boasts over 35-miles of nature trails. Davy Crockett, famed American pioneer, once lived here as a horse trader with the Chickasaw Native Americans.
Tombigbee State Park
Just six-miles south of Tupelo, Tombigbee is home to many nature trails and is the perfect spot for a family campout after putting in those hiking miles. Bring your fishing pole for great fishing on Lake Lee.
Lake Lowndes State Park
The Opossum Trail is a 5.6 mile trail that includes native plants, trees, and wildlife. Located near Columbus, this state park is located on a 150-acre lake.