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Kick Back at the Holly Springs National Forest

Kick Back at the Holly Springs National Forest

Ahhh. Summer. With school out and many long days to fill, most parents will try to find as many activities as possible to keep kids busy. For many, paying for all of it is an issue…so activities that are either low-cost or free are the best.

One such idea is right in your own backyard…have you ever given the woods of Holly Springs a chance? The whole family might enjoy a visit, but don’t do it blindly, though…your visit will be so much better if you get the advice of someone “in the know,” such as Katie Hanson-Dorr, Recreation Program Manager for Holly Springs National Forest.

Hanson-Dorr gave advice for park visitors who have younger kids in tow.

“A visit to Chewalla Lake Recreation Area would be a great way to spend a few hours in the forest,” Hanson-Dorr said. “There are picnic tables, walking trails, a 260-acre lake, and a swimming area to explore.”

“With more time,” she continued, “a family could spend the day exploring the recreation area or fishing in the lake from shore using a boat, or from the fishing pier near the boat ramp. With a full day to explore the Chewalla Lake area, be sure to stop by Pine Mountain Overlook, a nearby observation point on Pine Mountain Road in Holly Springs National Forest.”

Mississippi is truly rich in natural beauty. There are so many choices. To Hanson-Dorr, there are several reasons the park really sets itself apart from other natural attractions in the state.

“Holly Springs National Forest includes a diversity of beautiful forest types, including upland hardwood forests, mixed pine forests, bottomland hardwoods and wetlands,” she said. “There are more than 40 lakes scattered across the district, and all of them are open to the public. The rolling hills topography provides visitors with picturesque views in the north central hills of Mississippi.”

Visits to parks and other recreation areas are a natural during any summer, but with Covid-19 still winding down, they provide even more appeal than during your average summer break. Families should be aware that there are still some precautions in place due to Covid-19, and plan for these when getting ready for an outing to the park. Visitors may want to bring hand sanitizers, wet wipes, or damp washcloths stored in ziploc bags. This is especially important if the day involves an outdoor picnic where bare hands will be used for eating and snacking.

“Due to Covid-19, our Forest Service bathrooms are currently closed, and there are no hand washing facilities available,” Hanson-Dorr advised. “Portable toilets are available for visitors to use.”

She said visitors should check out the website www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/mississippi/recreation or call the district office prior to visiting the recreation areas to find out the current operating status. If you have any questions, she — or Holly Springs National Forest District Ranger Caren Briscoe — or one of the other people who care for this local treasure — will be glad to assist.

About The Author

Kara Bachman

Kara Bachman is a Managing Editor for Parents & Kids. She's also a book editor, former newspaper reporter, and is author of the humor essay collection, "Kissing the Crisis," which deals with the zanier aspects of parenting, relationships and turning 40. She's read her work on NPR radio and over 1,500 items have appeared in dozens of literary and commercial publications, including The Writer, The Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop, the New Orleans Times-Picayune and Nola.com, Dogster, Mississippi Magazine, American Fitness and many more. She's a New Orleans native, but lived for over a dozen years on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, including during 2005 when her house was flooded by Hurricane Katrina. She's a mom to two teenagers.

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