Mississippi has some trails with minimal obstacles. Some are very easy and others are wheelchair accessible. Here are a few of them.
The links given were found through Internet search. I have found references to many trails in Mississippi, which sound easy, especially those that are primarily boardwalks. However, I don’t feel comfortable listing them without some first-hand accounts. Wheelchair accessibility is seldom mentioned. Please let me know of easy or accessible trails you know of personally. With your help, we can share our knowledge with disabled people everywhere and also increase awareness of the need for more accessibility. Please e-mail me with your suggestions using the form to the right.
Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge This refuge lies in Mississippi and Alabama
The Oak Grove Birding Trail is just off Bayou Heron Road, south of the headquarters building. Here is a description and photographs from MathProfHiker’s Hiking Blog, which states the trail is “0.5 miles flat and easy miles.” The Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve’s website describes the habitat as “maritime, mixed hardwood forest intermingled with pines that slope down towards the marshes that border the upper reaches of Bayou Heron. ”
The Escatawpa Trail system is part boardwalk and part gravel. 3 options are available, including a boardwalk/gravel loop that is “fully accessible for visitors”. Several benches are available along the trail as well as an overlook at the Escatawpa River. Mathprofhiker’s Hiking Blog suggests you hike it in the dry season lest you end up wading as he did. Here is a description from Travels with Emma, another useful blog.
Brochure & Map Phone 228-475-0765
Gulf Islands National Seashore. “Visitors can plan their trip to either the Florida District or to the Mississippi District. Each district provides recreation, barrier islands, salt marshes, historic structures and wildlife along the Gulf of Mexico.” Accessibility Loaner wheelchairs are available in both districts.
“Perdido Key Discovery Trail and six beach cross-over boardwalks (two to sound; four to Gulf) are wheelchair accessible.” call 850-934-2600 for more information. Fort Pickens fishing pier is accessible.
Naval Live Oaks The first loop of the 0.8 mile Breckenridge Trail is an “accessible boardwalk with tactile waysides.”
The Davis Bayou Trail takes visitors through a coastal forest and over two local bayous. The trail is approximately two miles long. AllTrails describes it as “good for all skill levels.”
The short boardwalk over Stark Bayou is the only part of the trail that is wheelchair accessible.
“Boardwalk trails, campsites and fishing pier are accessible.” For information call Davis Bayou Visitor center at 228-875-9057.
The Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge has two trails. The folks there were kind enough to reply to my query: “Both trails would be classified as easy hikes due to length (both under one mile) and gain in elevation. Both trails also have benches located along the route, so visitors may stop and rest during their walk. Unfortunately, the trails are not accessible for wheelchairs, though we have had school groups with students in wheelchairs (both motorized and non motorized) complete the C.L. Dees trail with assistance from their instructors. ” The refuge reviewed on Trip Advisor
C. L. Dees Nature Trail Map
Saint Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge Map Brochure
There is a 3 mile nature trail which, according to the kind person who replied to my query, varies in difficulty: “The lower section of the trail (South Trailhead) would be better suited for elderly hikers, as there is a .5 mile section (trailhead to photo blind/rookery) that is flat terrain, with one hill that has a gradual incline. If hikers went to the photoblind/rookery it would be an approximate 1 mile hike roundtrip. Along the way there is a cypress overlook, open fields for viewing wildlife, benches, a small water impoundment and a small rookery, which has an enclosed photoblind. Be aware that critters can make their way into the photoblinds, so depending on the season, check carefully for wasps, spiders and potentially snakes before entering blinds. The surface of the trail is limestone rock, so wheelchairs should also have little to no difficulty with this section of the trail.”
Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge (website) has 11 trails, 7 of them listed as “gentle”. Surfaces vary from native, gravel, boardwalk, and concrete. Here is a video about the refuge.
Bluff Lake Boardwalk is just under 1000′ long. It “winds through a cypress island at the edge of Bluff Lake. ” A good trail for observing birds.
Cypress Cove Recreational Boardwalk is a little over 500 feet in length and allows access to Bluff Lake for fishing, sightseeing, or birdwatching, or just a different view. “It takes the visitor into a cypress grove on the edge of Bluff Lake and into the domain of the alligators and water dwelling creatures.”
Tallahatchie National Wildlife Refuge has a boardwalk north of Highway 8, about one mile down Mabus Road. “This walk takes visitors through a forested wetland and terminates at an observation tower where hikers can look out over a field of grass and see wildlife such as white-tailed deer…… Wood ducks, hooded mergansers, herons and egrets, water snakes, and turtles can often be seen in the wetlands surrounding the wooden walkway.” Call the Refuge Manager at 662-226-8286 for more information.
Here is an interactive map of all the state parks in Mississippi. There are links to a home page for each park with contact information. Amenities, including the existence of nature trails, are charted, but accessibility is not mentioned. I have attempted to use the State Parks contact form on their website, but it does not work. I suggest you call any of these parks to learn about accessibility. If you find a trail you really like, let me know!
This database of 42 nature trails in state parks from the Mississippi Division of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks links to a brief description of each trail with length and a phone number. Neither difficulty nor accessibility are described.
Pascagoula River Audubon Center The center has “short elevated boardwalks and trails from which visitors can view wetland and river habitats and wildlife…” Call 228-475-0825 for more information.
Longleaf Trace Trail is a 40 mile long paved National Recreation rail/trail from Hattiesburg to Prentiss. Parts of it go through forest and wetlands. Here is a description from EveryTrail. Directions for getting to the trail. Another description from Longleaftrace.org : “The Longleaf Trace is regularly maintained with parking, water, vending and restroom accommodations at each of its eight (8) trailhead stations spaced along the trail route. Sixteen (16) rest stops/overlooks are also provided along its route for user convenience and to enjoy the picturesque views of nature…”
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy lists wheelchair accessible trails in Mississippi.
The Tuxachanie National Recreation Trail near the Gulf Coast, is a 22-mile hike through southern Mississippi’s Desoto National Forest. The trailhead is off US 49. The first 1/4 mile is hardpacked and wheelchair accessible although the website warns of a few roots. The first 5 miles follow an abandoned railroad and are probably easy walking.