Swamps, bayous, marshes, and wetlands are amazing places chock full of fascinating flora and fauna – and Mississippi has its share of wonderful wetlands that are perfect for hiking!
Percy Quin State Park
I know! I go on and on about my favorite place to hike – Percy Quin State Park in southwest Mississippi just outside of McComb, Mississippi. One of the things that makes Percy Quin my favorite place to hike is the nature trail with such a great assortment of microenvironments to observe the flora and fauna. In this one 8-10 mile hike (depending on where you start) you can walk along groomed parkway, down boardwalks, through swamps and lowland hardwoods, and into upland pine plantations, pasture land and lakeside. You’re almost guaranteed to see various waterfowl and raptors (maybe even a Bald Eagle) and assorted reptiles, arthropods, and amphibians!
Check out this account from the last time we did the entire 10-mile hike at Percy Quin.
Ethel Vance Natural Area
Ethel Vance is a State Natural Area that is administrated by the City of Liberty Mississippi. Originally planned as bike trails it is a winding set of switchbacks but due to lack of maintenance, it has become a bit wild and due to erosion, some of the trail is dangerously close to a drop-off into the Amite River. It is still very fine hiking, but when we went we took a guide with us who is an expert with these trails – otherwise we would have been lost before we were started. Another option if you don’t have an expert guide is to do a series of ever more adventurous hikes out and back until you are the expert. In any case, Ethel Vance is a wonderful swampy hike of up to 10 miles.
Cypress Swamp is part of the Yockanookany section of the Natchez Trace Parkway. You can find it at mile marker 122 of the Parkway north of Jackson Mississippi at the north end of the Ross Barnett Reservoir. The Cypress Swamp walkway is only about a half mile long, but this easy hike is a prime opportunity to see common wetland trees, including Tupelo and Cypress as well as turtles, snakes, frogs, and alligators.
Saint Catherine’s Creek
Saint Catherine’s Creek National Wildlife Refuge south of Natchez Mississippi has over 10 miles of nature trails with evocative names like, Magnolia Trail, Whitetail Ridge, Piney Woods Lane, Alligator Hill, Razorback Ridge, Wood Duck Way, and Rookery Road. These trails wind through loess bluffs and cypress swamps and feature typical wetland flora and fauna including (but definitely not limited to) waterfowl and alligators.
Photos by Patrick Parker