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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)...
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.
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).
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.
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...
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).
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"
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.
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...
...then, at the top of one of the lower bluffs:
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.
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).
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
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