4/13/2017 | Play The Coast
With Spring having officially arrived, there is no better time for canoe and kayak adventurers to explore South Mississippi’s legendary rivers, creeks, and bayous. The Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area makes this possible by promoting seven "Blueways” – the water equivalent to hiking trails, that have been mapped out with the intent to create unforgettable experiences for locals and tourists alike.
These designated water trails offer educational, scenic, and challenging experiences for recreational canoers and kayakers, and are also used by anglers, hikers, picnickers, and those just looking to enjoy nature. Unlike national parks, National Heritage Areas are large lived-in areas where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes.
The Blueways are organized by local volunteers with the help of public officials and private landowners, all of whom promote its proper use and maintenance. Each Blueway has an established route, mile markers, as well as points of interest along the route. Maps are available to provide this information at visitor centers and local Chamber of Commerce.
Bayou Bogue Homa Blueway
The Bayou Bogue Homa is a tranquil place filled with history, and a great place to enjoy wildlife in their natural habitat. Home to a multi-cultural history including tribal cultures, pioneers, explorers, traders, and settlers from all over the world, the Bayou Bogue Homa Blueway offers a glimpse into history while showcasing the region’s plants and wildlife. ?
Where the bayou meets the East Pearl River marshes, ancient bald cypress trees line the banks. Along the Blueway, is the Possum Walk Heritage Trail, both existing to offer visitors a unique look at the often-breathtaking sites. ?
Jourdan River Blueway
The Jourdan River Blueway is an 8.5-mile trail through coastal floodplains that are home to wildlife, hardwood forests, and artesian springs. The river connects the McLeod Park canoe launch to the Bayou Talla boat launch, and along the way paddlers can stop at multiple sandbars and restaurants while cruising the natural beauty of Hancock County.
The freshwater river is also great for fishing and birdwatching. You can find largemouth bass, catfish, and alligator gar in the water, and eagles, hawks, and osprey can be found in the trees lining the river. It has everything nature lovers could want and more.
Old Fort Bayou Blueway
The Old Fort Bayou Blueway is a unique trail filled with twists and turns through Jackson County. Beginning at the mouth of Biloxi Bay in beautiful Ocean Springs,
it winds through natural areas such as the Sandhill Crane Wildlife Refuge, Land Trust’s Twelve Oaks Conservation Park, and Mississippi’s Old Fort Bayou Coastal Preserve. You will end your journey with the long-leaf pine savannas south of Vancleave.
Pascagoula River Jackson & George County Blueways
Part of the largest free-flowing waterway in the lower 48 states, the Pascagoula River Blueways has a combined 32 miles to explore. Along the banks, you will find boat launches, piers, historic landmarks, and many natural wonders. It is also likely to see wildlife such as deer, beaver, alligators, and even black bears.
The river is a natural estuary, hosting over 22 threatened and endangered species, and over 300 plant species. It is also a fantastic place for birdwatching, as two-thirds of the Eastern breeding migratory birds use the Pascagoula River and its marshes as a resting point.
The Pascagoula River Blueways offers something for people of all paddling abilities, but is ideal for intermediate to experienced paddlers. Strong currents provide a challenge for those who love aquatic recreation.
On Saturday, April 22nd the 2017 Pascagoula Run is slated to start it’s 12.5-mile race at 8am, beginning at Little River Marina in Moss Point. All types of human-powered paddle craft are welcomed. Registration and event details can be found at www.cityofpascagoula.com
?Red Creek Blueway
The Red Creek Blueway is comprised of four segments, each giving beautiful views for floating down this coastal blackwater stream that gets its name from the naturally occurring tannins in the water that produce a reddish stain.
The Clay Shelves segment is nearly ten miles long, and along with several small rapids throughout, you will get to see firsthand how the waterway got its name from the beautiful red clay shelves that line the creek. The Railroad Trestle segment is a little over six miles, and offers many white sandbars to stop and swim, or to enjoy a waterfront picnic. The Red Bluff segment is 9.6 miles and offers the chance to see remains of old rail lines, indicative of the early 1900’s timber harvest. For those looking for a partial day trip, the Natural Springs segment is 4.4 miles from Cable Bridge to Highway 15, offering incredible scenery and natural springs that feed the creek close to the site of historic Ramsey Springs Hotel.
Wolf River Water Trails
The Wolf River runs through Hancock, Harrison, and Pearl River counties, and is named after the Red Wolves that once roamed the southeastern United States. Although Red Wolves no longer live near the river, the Blueway offers the chance to spot other wildlife such as coyotes, foxes, turkeys, and songbirds that inhabit the area.
For more information on Mississippi’s Coastal Blueways and permits please visit www.msgulfcoastheritage.ms.gov and www.ltmcp.org.
Play The Coast