Meridian Star

Outdoors

May 31, 2013

Stunning beauty at Clark Creek Nature Area

MERIDIAN —     Do you think you’ve seen it all in Mississippi? Maybe you think you’ve been there and done that before, everything you’ve heard about anyway. But have you visited one of Mississippi’s hidden gems? It's chock full of waterfalls and natural stunning beauty, particularly if you visit at the right time. Waterfalls in Mississippi, you must be crazy? Nope, it’s for real and I know just the place where they exist; at Clark Creek Nature Area!

    While we don’t normally think of Mississippi having waterfalls, surprisingly there are a few here and there. And there are probably more located down in Wilkinson County than anywhere in the state and they’re open for viewing 24/7!

    My wife, Kathy, and I visited the area recently, donned our hiking shoes and hit the trails in the primitive area filled with fabulous walking trails and sights and sounds. Nearing the crest of a hill we heard the roar of running water splashing on rocks and were greeted with a magnificent sight indeed. The waterfall dropped perhaps 30 feet and crashed on the rocks below, forming a crystal clear pool of water that flowed downstream through boulders and rock strewn hollows.

    Following the sandy creek bed a little farther we came upon another impressive waterfall and stream-bed filled with even more large rocks, boulders and crystal clear water. An observation deck was located below and to the side of the falls to make viewing and access much easier. This waterfall and the rough rock hewn stream bed below are breathtaking.

    While the area has primitive trails running through it for viewing access, one can also see a variety of creeks, streams and natural wonders alongside and off the beaten paths. I can only imagine the beauty of the area in the early spring when the water is flowing and the foliage is budding and wildflowers are blooming.

    During the fall visitors are no doubt greeted with a colorful array of autumn splendor, as nature paints the foliage of mixed hardwood and pine forest with a variety of vibrant colors. But the waterfalls are the focal point of the area.

    The Clark Creek Natural Area is surely a diamond in the rough; yes a hidden gem, heretofore unknown by most outside of the local area surrounding it. The area has more than 700 acres, and is highlighted by some 50 reported waterfalls, during times of adequate rainfall, ranging in an array of sizes from just a few feet to more than 30 feet in height. Establishment and protection of this fabulous area began around 1978 but the secret’s just now getting out.

    The rugged area is comprised of steep sloping loess bluff hills along with a natural forest with an abundance of beech and magnolias. A host of other lesser known trees populating the area are southern sugar maple, serviceberry, umbrella tree, pyramid magnolia, chinquapin oak, big leaf snowball, silverbell, and witch-hazel.

    Along with the natural beauty provided in the hills and hollows is a variety of colorful birds, snakes, frogs and other rare surprises. While the area also provides excellent habitat for another threatened species in Mississippi, the black bear, we weren’t privy to a bear sighting. We did see king snakes and a khaki colored camouflaged tree frog that blended right in with a beech tree.

    Bird-watching, hiking, photography, and botanizing are available at Clark Creek on the established trails. Camping and motorized vehicles are not allowed and only foot traffic is permitted. A word of caution to the wise is noted as visitors should be medically fit and in good physical condition before traversing the area as it is located in primitive, mountainous terrain.

    Since Clark Creek is located in a somewhat remote part of the state, emergency medical assistance is a long way off, so be forewarned and remember to watch your step on the steep trails and around waterfalls.

    You’re on your own when you get to the area and there is no potable water or other amenities at Clark Creek although bathrooms are located at the trail head. However, if you’re in good shape and want to explore one of Mississippi’s hidden gems, then you owe it to yourself to get out your hiking shoes, shorts and t-shirts and hit the trail to Woodville to explore another piece of Mississippi’s great outdoors.

The area is located at 366 Fort Adams Road, about 13 miles west of Woodville, and is sure to be a hit among nature lovers everywhere!

    Contact  Mike Giles at 601-917-3898 or e-mail him at mikegiles18@comcast.net.

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