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Black Creek Trail
The deepest part of the Deep South comes alive on this 40-mile path as it follows its namesake drainage through a coastal floodplain riddled with oxbow lakes and dense stands of sweet gum, loblolly pine, bald cypress, and maple trees. Ninety bridges span the watery route, but you’ll still get your boots wet. An especially scenic section of the trail is the 10 miles through the 5,000-acre Black Creek Wilderness.
Contact: Black Creek Ranger District, DeSoto National Forest, (601) 928-4422; www.fs.fed.us/r8/miss.
Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail
Following the pioneer road used by settlers in the early 19th century, most of the Natchez Trace now serves as a “parkway” for cars. A few sections have been set aside for historically minded hikers, however, like the 20 miles between Ridgeland and Choctaw, and another 10 miles near Port Gibson.
Homochitto National Forest
While hiking through groves of pine, magnolia, and beech in this lush forest, you’re almost certain to see deer, turkeys, raccoons, opossums, and armadillos, as well as beavers and turtles along the meandering creeks. The best backpacking is along the 10-mile Clear Springs Trail and the 23-mile Longleaf Trail.
Contact: Homochitto National Forest, (601) 384-5876; www.fs.fed.us/r8/miss.