Fun Memories of hikes with our three children to Clark's Creek Nature Trail in Woodville, Mississippi, in the upper Tunica Hills region, including waterfall sites, narrow and treacherous trails, and a treasure trove of outdoor scenery.
One of our favorite summer adventure road trips that is only about an hour to reach from Baton Rouge is Clark's Creek Nature Trail in Woodville, Mississippi.
It is neat to take old Highway 61 North to reach this treasure trove of outdoor scenery, including a plethora of waterfalls just north of Louisiana, in the upper Tunica Hills region. And these hills are certainly higher than "Monkey Hill," which us N'awlins natives used to know as the highest point in Uptown in the Crescent City, located in Audubon Park.
I first found out about this wonderful getaway about 25 years ago when our daughter, Maria-Therese, was involved with the Girl Scouts. During one of the girls' weekend campouts, dads were invited to join a hike along a trail in Clark's Creek, near Camp Marydale. We couldn't believe how treacherous the trails were as we made our way, descending the narrow and winding paths that lead to the waterfalls.
As you disembark past the Pond Store near to the Clark's Creek entrance, it suddenly hits you that this is really going to be a steep walk as you begin to take a steady, down-sloping trek on a very narrow path. Those trees on each side provide a hopeful safeguard to stop someone from possibly falling and taking a long, dangerous slide. Unfortunately, due to the severe difficulty of the terrain, it appears that there are no optional ADA paths available.
On other past trips with our sons, we would leave little nickel or penny markers, slid into the spaces between the wood on the steps that are provided for those unable to safely navigate the slippery, uneven tracks that appear ever-so-often. It was fun to be able to find one of these on a subsequent trip as an indication that we had been there.
At one of these later trips, my wife joined me and the boys, and quickly found out that she needed something to help guide her along the paths. Let's just say that she found that Newton's law of gravity was surely validated, after some rather abrupt, unintended, and unsuccessful imitations of a Michael Jackson Moonwalk—à la "Slip Slidin' Away" to her backside, as Paul Simon would have noted! We made a cane stick and it helped her greatly.
At some point, visitors have the chance to bypass the designated paths and descend to the ground level where, at times, you wade through some low water and a vast assortment of all kinds of rock formations—some rather large.
Maria was unable to join us at that level, but did meet us at the first of many wonderful waterfalls that ranged in height from 10 to 30 feet. What a sight to see so close to Baton Rouge! We knew some New Orleans friends who had gone to Niagara Falls for their honeymoon, so this was the closest we have come to any such scenes, other that when we took a trip to Yosemite.
On hot summer trips to this Southern wonder, Andrew, his buddy, and I would take some great swims in the little ponds below the waterfalls and enjoy the cool water flowing on our heads. A few times, we did spot some snakes, but they were mostly the non-venomous type. Sometimes, when they were really into salamanders, we found a bunch up there. John Paul and I also had some fun trips there during a spring trip; the water temp was so cool and refreshing.
One of the best trips involved a time when Andrew was older, so I could let him and his buddy do a little solo exploring while I was enjoying taking in some needed solitude time from stressful work situations. It seemed like we were some of the few people on the trails that weekday during the Easter holidays. Only one other car was parked near the park entrance.
After some quiet and peaceful time just taking in the scenery, all of a sudden, Fr. Henry comes walking by. He's someone that I hadn't seen in a long time, back with some music ministry groups in the church, and here we were in the middle of the Tunica Hills region. It was great to catch up with each other briefly. Not long later, who do I see but Cinnamon, who used to work with me at that time at the Baton Rouge General, and her friend.
As with when I saw Fr. Henry, the first question inevitably asked was, "What are you doing here?" Obviously, many others have come to know how great a getaway Clark's Creek is. Due to the remoteness of the area, it was usually nice not to be disturbed by phone calls—but that was before texting and GPS!
After a fun-filled time, you always have to be prepared for the workout in store for you with the steep incline on the way out of the trails. I would usually have to use a lot of motivational talk or chasing games to distract the kids from the complaints that they would voice about their struggles, with that infamous summer travel question: "Are we there yet?"
Be sure to put Clark's Creek on your summer plans. It is a great short road trip, inexpensive (you'll only pay for parking), you can actually bring your own food in (unlike most parks!), and most importantly, you could possibly be out of cell phone and/or online reach!