As we traveled through the south, we were excited to be able to bicycle on one of the premier rail-trails in the US, the Longleaf Trace in Mississippi. Here's a brief history of the trail:
A designated National Recreation Trail, it runs atop a stretch of Mississippi Central Railroad line that saw much activity as the region's timber industry flourished between the late 1800s and 1920s. As the industry began to fade, so too did the need for the rail service, and although the railroad struggled into the 1970s, it eventually ceased to be economically viable. Fortunately, a concerted effort by local groups and individuals preserved the corridor, and in 2000 it opened as a trail. (Source: http://www.traillink.com/trail/longleaf-trace.aspx.)
And here's a map of the trail (map source: http://www.longleaftrace.org/):
During my online research I located a campground near the northern end of the trail in Prentiss. This campground on Lake Jeff Davis was small but quiet and well-run. Catering mostly towards fishermen, we were the only cyclists staying there. Note that camping prices have increased from the price in the link. The current price to camp is $18/night.
There's a spur trail off the Trace that leads right to Lake Jeff Davis called Mayor Blount's Contrail. Unlike the Trace, which is near flat, the contrail is a roller coaster of short, steep grades, but it's less than two miles long.
We rode the Trace as far south as Sumrall, where there was supposed to be an ice cream place right along the trail, but it must have gone out of business (sigh). Still, the ride was gorgeous. And we even came upon a Little Free Library there at the trailhead! Too bad I didn't bring the paperbacks I'm finished with -- they could have used 'em. The ride ended up being 50 miles round-trip, so I didn't want to have to do it again the next day!
We were having so much fun, we extended our stay at Lake Jeff Davis for a third night so we could ride north the next day into Prentiss, where we had a donut shop on our radar. We continued down to Carson and back for a shorter ride than the day before.
If you're ever in the area, we can highly recommend a ride on the Trace!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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