Fun Memories of hikes with our three children to Clark's Creek Nature Trail in Woodville, Mississippi in the upper Tunica Hills region, including water fall sites, narrow and treacherous trails and a treasure trove of outdoor scenery!
Clark’s Creek Summer Adventures
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 into the upper Tunica Hills region. And these hills are certainly higher that “Monkey Hill,” which us N’Awlins natives used to know as the highest point of the uptown Crescent City per Audubon Park.
I first found out about this wonderful get away about 17 years ago when our daughter, Maria-Therese, was involved with Girls Scouts, and a weekend hiking trail in Clark’s Creek, near Camp Marydale, was offered for dads to join during one of the days of the girls’ weekend campout. We couldn’t believe how treacherous the trails were as we made our way descending on 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 gonna 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 someone possibly falling and taking a long dangerous slide. Unfortunately, due to the severe difficulty in 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 marker 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 paths. Let’s just say that she found that Newton’s law of gravity was surely validated per some rather abrupt unintended and unsuccessful imitations of a Michael Jackson Moonwalk ala “slip sliding away” to her backside, as Paul Simon would have noted! We made a cane-stick to help 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 – ranging from 10 – 30 feet in height! 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 is 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 me 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 no 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 neatest 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.
So 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 per 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 briefly with each other. 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 first saw Fr. Henry, the first question inevitably mentioned was “What are you doing here?” Obviously, many others have come to know how great of a get away that Clark’s Creek is. Due to the remoteness of the area, it is neat to usually not 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 per 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 per that infamous summer travel question: “Are we there yet?” So be sure to put Clark’s Creek on your summer plans. It is a great short road trip, inexpensive (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!
Keith John Paul Horcasitas, 1133 Knollhaven Drive, BRLA 70810, khorcasitas.yahoo.com, June 20, 2010.