Expedition Planner: Black Creek Trail, MS
DRIVE TIME: The Black Creek Wilderness is about 1 hour (50 miles) from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The trail is less than 3 hours from Jackson, New Orleans, and Mobile.
THE WAY: From Hattiesburg, take US 98 east for 20 miles to New Augusta and turn south onto MS 29. Proceed 19 miles to the Black Creek Wilderness trailhead and parking area.
TRAILS: The main artery is the Black Creek National Recreation Trail, with 10 of its 41 miles in the Black Creek Wilderness. Do an end-to-end hike with a car shuttle, or a 20-mile out-and-back trek through the wilderness area (go south from the wilderness trailhead).
DAYHIKE: For the best creekside hiking, start at the trailhead on MS 29 and trek southeast into the wilderness. Go 5 miles and turn around, or use a car shuttle to hike 10 miles one way.
ELEVATION: The creek bottoms out near 100 feet, and the upland ridges rise to 270 feet.
CAN’T MISS: An afternoon siesta on a quiet sandbar, listening to the Black Creek slip by and watching a blue heron wing overhead.
CROWD CONTROL: The trail is rarely crowded. October through April is cool, sunny, and relatively insect-free. Wear blaze orange clothing during deer-hunting season (November to January).
GUIDES: USGS topos Brooklyn, Janice, and Bond Pond. A Black Creek Trail map is also available from the DeSoto National Forest (see Contact below; $5). Hiking Mississippi: A Guide to Trails and Natural Areas, by Helen McGinnis (University Press of Mississippi, 800-737-7788; www.backpacker.com/bookstore; $15.95).
WALK SOFTLY: Be sure to camp at least 200 feet from the stream so you don’t contaminate the water.
CONTACT: DeSoto Ranger District, DeSoto National Forest, (601) 928-4422; www.fs.fed.us/r8/miss.