Words by Paige Townley
Outdoor adventure runs wild in Mississippi. From its 62 miles of coastline to its charming inland communities, natural abounds all over the Magnolia State. Summer is the ideal time of year for getting outdoors and checking out all Mississippi has to offer, and here are two destinations you don’t want to miss: Cypress Swamp and Horn Island.
Natchez is known by many as an outdoor recreational playground, and that’s partly due to its location on the Natchez Trace Parkway. The Parkway was made for adventure with its many hiking and biking trails and natural beauty, which extends 444 miles from Natchez all the way to Nashville, Tennessee. Cypress Swamp is a must-visit stop on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Located just mere miles northeast of Jackson, the swamp is a less-than-one-half-mile boardwalk trail that guides visitors through wetlands with cypress and tupelo trees, which can easily live in water for long periods of time. The swamp was formed after the Pearl River changed course, and it’s a great spot for leisurely walks, including those with your favorite four-legged pet—but be on the lookout for juvenile alligators, which can sometimes be spotted in the swamp.
Further down south in Coastal Mississippi are the state’s six barrier islands, one of which is Horn Island, an undeveloped barrier island in the Mississippi Sound. Situated just south of Ocean Springs, Horn Island is several miles long but very narrow—less than a mile wide at its widest point—and it’s a fan favorite for those wanting to experience the ultimate in outdoor offerings and scenic beauty. Featuring sand dunes with sea oats, tall pines on small groves, saw palmettos on small groves, and even a few inland lagoons, Horn Island is a prime location for spotting all sorts of wildlife, including alligators, ospreys, pelicans, anhingas, ibises, manatees, ducks, rabbits, raccoons, herons, and other migratory birds. A designated wilderness area and part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, the island is accessible only by boat, but overnight camping is permitted.
Ready to plan your next adventure? Learn more about why Mississippi is made for it at www.visitmississippi.org.