Clark Creek--th'other side of Liberty

5:36 p.m. on December 25, 2012 (EST)
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Nature is full of surprises!  I got some time off and thought I'd head out to the southwestern corner of my state of Mississippi to check out a loess-covered limestone bluff area next to the Mississippi river that I'd heard "has boulders and waterfalls and black bears."  Well, sho'nuf!  It's less than an hour's drive north (hwy 61) of Baton Rouge, LA; about the same drive south of Natchez, MS; and just across the river from the "gated" community at Angola, LA (where their famous rodeo is an annual attraction on every weekend of the month of October--public invited).  The locally famous Rouge-Roubaix annual (March, I think) bicycle race comes through this area, as well.  Anyway, it all starts at the general store in Pond, MS (circa 1881)...

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I came here from the east part of the state, passing through Liberty, MS, hometown of my favorite standup comedian, the late Jerry Clower.  On my way, a nice old fellow at a service station told me that Clark Creek and the Pond Store is "just the other side of Liberty, then right past Woodville a few miles."  I found that Ms Liz, the owner, is quite a historian and has maps and directions and any supplies you'd need for the "Clark Creek Natural Area" which is just over the hill from the store.

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You can see the old U.S. Army saddles--in the dark area in the back--and this antique doll house and other neat old things/antiques; the cash register is not "2K-compatible" either (a collector's item itself)!

Across the road, next to the pond,... (sadly missed getting a picture of the gaggle of geese that usually hang out there), some "half-brothers" (you'll see).

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Then, down the road, over the hill, is the entrance to the 700+ acres of this "Natural Area" first organized for protection through a Nature Conservancy cooperation in 1978.  Three dollar admission (enforced) per car.

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This is a watershed that drains these bluffs via Clark creek down into the Mississippi river at the bottom.  There's about a 200 to 400 foot elevation gain down to the Mississippi.  Here are some of the views I saw as I walked the top half (northern) of the "improved" and "primitive" trails...

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Can you BELIEVE this is in Mississippi?!
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..how's it go:  "two 'brooks' make a 'stream'"
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...and two "streams" make a "creek"?
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This was a small fall (they all drop over what someone told me are siltstone ledges).  The largest fall (beautiful, 30 foot high ledge drops into an almost perfect stone amphitheater) was so covered with red graffiti I didn't include it here (makes you cry)--it's worth the time to go look in person, though, just for it's structure (hollowed-out globe).
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There is said to have been eight geocaches in this park.  I think a local start point is +31° 4' 51.82", -91° 31' 28.62"
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Walking along the creeks is part of the "primitive" trail, not discouraged because it's mostly rock surface, I suppose.  The water here is advertised as "not potable," but it was clear as crystal and, I THINK, originates within the confines of the park--bring a filter or bring your own.
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Here begins about half the elevation gain in one gulp--where the primitive trail rejoins the "improved" trail in the northwestern corner of the park...
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...then, at the top of one of the lower bluffs:
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Here's looking down into one of the rather steep "clefts" between the bluffs--the trails were laid out, mercifully, following the TOPS of the bluffs as if if a ridge.  That layout makes the walk slightly more on the "easy" side of "moderate."  Less "hardy" folks will enjoy the "improved" trails, though the footing and steepness of the "primitive" trails might be daunting.
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Came across this rain shelter (only one, I think) about half-way back from the entrance.
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There were lots of cascading fern banks and cane thickets.
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Here's the lower trunk of what was about a 70 foot tall Southern Red Oak.  That walking stick is 50 inches from tip to tip.  Clark Creek Natural Area has a world record BigLeaf Snobell and Mexican Plumb tree as well, as well as Southern Sugar Maple and Caroline Magnolia vine (endangered).

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And, here, near the end, for the geezers among us,...
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...and the view it looks on (steep drop, so stay in the swing!).
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And, finally, the small picnic area (only two tables) on the blufftop next to the entrance.
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After leaving, back to Woodville on the Ft. Adams-Pond road (note the sign on the barn)
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Stop for a look back at the door to Pond...
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My visit was in late December.  You may want to go to a "NO (that's New Orleans) Adventure" post I found available to the public at

http://noadventure.com/2010/11/07/tunica-waterfalls/

to see some nice pics of Clark Creek (known to some in Louisiana as "Tunica Falls") in the summertime--it includes pictures from the lower half of the trails which I did not get to.

There is no place to tent-camp and very little for RVs for miles around, so be sure to get there with plenty of daylight to walk the 1.78 miles of "improved" trails and 2.6 miles of "primitive" trails (3-5 hours), plus stopping to enjoy the fabulous natural quiet of the place--I never heard a sound from the outside world.

If you are ever visiting the Gulf Coast area and need to take a hike, I think you'll find Clark Creek a "natural surprise" worth your time.  Enjoy a taste of th'other side of Liberty... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AX9QoFhEhI

 

1:48 p.m. on December 31, 2012 (EST)
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Nice hike Bunion…I would not have guessed that was in Mississippi if you hadn’t said so!

12:24 a.m. on February 6, 2013 (EST)
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A veritable Shangri-La...thanks for sharing!

8:06 a.m. on February 6, 2013 (EST)
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I think the best and worst part of Trail Space is the trip reports.  Best because it gives me ideas worst because I may never get to them.  I like to keep places like this in mind if business travel ever takes me to the area and I have time to spare.

I would like to know what "not potable" means.  Most surface water is assumed to be not drinkable unless filtered or boiled but sometimes it has chemical runoff and can't be made drinkable.

5:53 p.m. on February 6, 2013 (EST)
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Sweet pics dude! I too would have not guessed MS. We don't get those kinda views down here man. Looks beautiful though. I will have to check it out sometime soon. Before the heat rolls in. Have ever hit Sipsey Wilderness in AL.? It's by far one of the most beautiful spots south of TN.

BE COOL 

6:28 p.m. on February 6, 2013 (EST)
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Tycho--thanks for the reply; Clark Creek is a lovely place to get away from the city (Baton Rouge and New Orleans) and is not a hard walk, though it is amazingly free of even occasional airplane noises; it's loaded with various song birds and some really old trees.  I believe the park services puts "not potable" (not to be used for consumption) just to be safe, though the water is crystal clear.  The area SEEMS at cursory glance to be a watershed of its own, though I'm sure it would be safest to be filtered or boiled.  I met an M.D. from Baton Rouge walking there who drives the 40 minutes up from Baton Rouge regularly just for the exercise and peace and quiet.  Be sure to enjoy the Pond Store just a hundred feet from the entry--wonderful lady runs it and has quite a history to tell of the place.

Shenora--I appreciate your appreciation!  I've heard of Sipsey but never been there.  Like you say, it's hard to find good woods down here in deep south.  I am searching Sipsey out now, and will surely give it a try.  By the way...

Welcome to Trailspace!

10:07 a.m. on February 11, 2013 (EST)
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What a great "walk in the woods" Bunion!

I simply love that description: "has boulders and waterfalls and black bears."

12:27 p.m. on February 12, 2013 (EST)
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Thanks for the good word, folks.  Clark Creek is a Shangri-la-by-proxy, though--it's strange to see waterfalls and boulders but, then, look up and NOT see any mountains in the distance!  But it is a local step out of the maddening crowd and a relatively easy walk for older folks (even moderately infirm people could do this) who may not be as "robust" as WE used to be!  The walk out to the swing is not far from the entrance.  By the way, to promote another gorgeous place, south of Tennessee (mentioned by Shenora, above), here's a link to some pictures of the Sipsey Wilderness just a few miles northwest of Birmingham, AL:

https://www.google.com/search?q=pictures+of+sipsey+wilderness&hl=en&tbo=u&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=H5AVUbS_NIfC2wWcz4HoAg&ved=0CDAQsAQ&biw=1008&bih=655#imgrc=ghvJHSq6xBSkqM%3A%3B39-FARkpMgFw9M%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252F1.bp.blogspot.com%252F-pJ1ukK6j8t0%252FTwLCRheKPUI%252FAAAAAAAAAMg%252Fk4RKk5sViN4%252Fs320%252FIMG_0302.JPG%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fatsectionhiking.blogspot.com%252F2011%252F12%252Fsipsey-wilderness-203.html%3B320%3B240

 

July 23, 2014
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