Mountain biking is slowly gaining ground every day, as more and more people realize that this is a middle ground between exploration and keeping fit.
Mississippi, a small state in both size and population, is a hidden gem in the mountain bike unit. Located in the south, the dense forests hold numerous adventure opportunities for all outdoor enthusiasts and mountain bikers. Named after the second-longest river in America, Mississippi is surrounded by Alabama to the east, Louisiana, to the south, Tennessee, to the north, and Arkansas to the west.
Mississippi ranks among the flattest states in the United States of America. But somehow, not satisfied with the paved roads and lean tires, they have managed to build mountain biking trails all over the state. Here is a list of the best 10 mountain biking trails in Mississippi
1. Mt. Zion Trails
Located in Brookhaven, the Mt. Zion Trails is a well-thought-out and properly crafted trail system. Although the terrain is relatively flat, they used wooden props to augment possible shortcomings. The main loop is 9 miles long with so many incredible features such as sandy berms, a couple of well-marked jumps that can be bypassed if you don’t want to catch some air, and occasional hills.
Mt. Zion Trail is first on this list because it is every biker’s favorite trail in Mississippi. At first glance or ride, it is evident that a lot of work went into these trails. It is properly maintained, with mileage signs that help you keep track of how far you have come.
The Mt. Zion Trails features loops for everybody. There is a 9-mile loop for those seeking a long ride and a six-mile loop if you are not willing to go that far; in between, there are short loops for kids and not so short 2 mile loops for beginners. The one word that is synonymous with this trail is “fun”. There is a Blue Jean Ally, with lots of jeans hanging in the trees, and a boneyard, where the bones of cattle and deer litter the trail. You can hold family weekends, picnics, and group outings here, so as you would expect, it is heavily trafficked. There is loads of fun to be had here, no matter your skillset or age. It is worth a shot.
2. Petal River Park
If flowing downhill rides past rolling hills is your thing, then the trail at Petal River Park is just right for you.
Located in Petal, Mississippi, the park is a relatively new addition to the city’s landscape. It runs alongside the Leaf River. The trail dedicated to mountain biking is a 4-mile long loop that serves a great view of the whole park. This loop will mostly suit beginners and kids who are looking for a comfortable ride. The trail goes around 3 water bodies and gradually emerges into a collection of human-made articles and bridges. The trail is mostly double-tracked, with only a slight gain in elevation. While there are plans for adding extra 15 miles of trail and an advanced skills section, this park will only satisfy the leisurely rider and the beginner in the meantime.
3. Clear Creek Trail
Situated near the University of Mississippi, 8 miles of short, intense climbs, flowing downhills, and a terrain that consists of dirt and sand is what you can expect to find at the Clear Creek Trail. With a modest elevation gain of 100 feet, the trail is a hundred percent singletrack, with mixed terrain, meaning each ride offers something slightly different from the last.
The routes are a bit demanding, but the smooth nature of the ride would even out any challenges. The most exciting part of this trail is the flowing descents, which are, of course, preceded by some strenuous climbs and a couple of switchbacks that painstakingly brings you to the summit of the course.
“The big one” is one of the most frequented switchbacks here, with its unique nature attracting bikers from all over. Technical spots, challenges, and obstacles abound, making this trail suitable for strong beginners and intermediate riders. Advanced riders looking for a stretch can also use this trail as it flows easily.
4. The Ridgeland Trails
Located in Ridgeland, very close to Jackson, Mississippi, The Ridgeland Trails sit on an 80-acre park. Maintained by the Tri-county Mountain Bike Association, the trails have a membership-only clause, but a 2-day membership pass is available for a small token. Over 200 bikers belong to this association.
Ridgeland is famous for its steep and demanding hills and the majestic views that accompany them. The uphill climbs here will challenge strong beginners and intermediate riders. Unique rock formations that you do not find elsewhere dot the landscape. The downhill is every biker’s dream—flowing from the summit of the hills down towards the foot, with lots of obstacles that include roots, berms, and some incredible jumps.
The single-track trails amount to about 10 miles in total. With a moderate difficulty rating, the trails lure tons of mountain bikers all year round. The association also hosts several racing events, so it would be advisable to verify before heading out. There are interconnected areas for beginners, intermediate, and pro bikers. The trail is worth its weight in gold.
5. Bayou Point
Bayou Point is easily one of the most technical trails in the southern part of America. It is not an ideal spot for greenhorns and those trying to find their feet in the art of mountain biking.
Located in Arkabutla, Mississippi, this 6-mile trail would test your endurance to the extreme. Only advanced bikers can take on this trail, and even then, helmets are required. Tight, curvy, and complicated are the words often used to describe the trails here. Bends are a recurring decimal, allowing bikers to hone their cornering techniques. A great number of well-placed obstacles such as jumps and drops, log rides, and berms will challenge even the best bikers. Bikers can ride on the trail either clockwise or anti-clockwise, giving the feel of riding on two separate trails.
The difficulty of the trail does not take away its gorgeous scenery. Set in a secluded location, wildlife exists here in abundance, and you are sure to see some deer galloping around.
6. Noxubee Hills Trails
Diverse landscapes are part of the thrill at the Noxubee Hills Trail system. Some spots are hilly, while others are flat ground; bikers will encounter some very narrow routes, and wide ones abound. This 30 miles long trail system is properly marked.
Noxubee Hills Trails, also known as the Nox, is situated in the Ackerman axis of the Tombigbee National Forest. Mountain bikers mainly use the trails that pass through the remote Choctaw and Winston counties, but hikers occasionally use them. Consisting of forsaken forest roads, slender singletrack, and roads no longer open to motorists, the Nox has two trailheads. The first trailhead can be found seven miles from Louisville, while the second trailhead is at Choctaw Lake Recreation Area close to Ackerman.
The trails have been properly marked with durable trail markers placed on trees. The main trails, which form a ring from one trailhead to the other, are over 21 miles long. Orange is used to mark one direction, while yellow is used in the opposite path. There are many interconnecting trails marked in blue. Emergency supplies, food, and water are recommended on this trail since it is a secluded area.
There are 22 trails in total, all with varying degrees of difficulty. Beginners can take the short routes, while bikers with more experience would delight in touring the trail’s entire length and breadth.
7. Tishomingo State Park
Named after Chief Tishomingo, a famous ruler of the Chickasaw nation among native Americans, the Tishomingo State Park is at the base of the Appalachian Mountains.
Perhaps the most picturesque Mountain biking destination in Mississippi, the trail has unmatched limestone and sandstone outcroppings and breathtaking rock formations. Rocks covered in moss line up the trails, and there is also a waterfall. The Outcropping Trail, which is a favorite for many bikers, runs parallel to Bear Creek for much of the way. This trail gives a panoramic view of Bear Creek and can be accessed using a swinging bridge.
There are 7 trails in total, with the longest, Flat Rock Trail, measuring 3 miles long, and the shortest, Saddlebag Ridge, running for just 0.75 miles. There are numerous small caves where the Native Americans once lived, natural springs, streams, and large rock outcroppings dotting the whole area. Nature lovers will enjoy this trail system. It is suitable for riders of all categories. Like most trails in Mississippi, this trail is well-groomed.
8. Tanglefoot Trail
Built by the great grandfather of Nobel laureate William Falkner, the Tanglefoot Trail, located in northeastern Mississippi, is the longest Rails to Trails conversion in Mississippi, measuring a total of 44 miles. Formerly a well-traveled rail system, it was converted into trails in 2013. The trail was named after the popular Tanglefoot steam engine used to transport people back in the days before the rail line was abandoned.
The trail passes through three counties, namely Pontotoc, Chickasaw, and Union. An arch made of bicycles greets the biker along the trail. The trail, which passes through forests and remote places, has “whistling stops” en route where bikers can rest in shelters and even repair their bikes. Deer, squirrels, and other wildlife can also be found all over the trail.
In 2019, Tanglefoot Trail was inducted into the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame by the Rails-to-Trail Conservancy, becoming only the thirty-third member.
9. Vicksburg National Military Park
Located along the Mississippi River, Vicksburg served as a strong forte during the gruesome and lengthy civil war. A lot of the old war grounds are now monuments. Vicksburg Military Park tops the list of the most monumented site in the United States of America.
The trail is a spectacular 16-mile loop surrounded by dense foliage, flowers, strenuous climbs, and a flowing descent. You can find history everywhere you ride in this park. A tour guide would come in handy in riding this route as the different monuments would come alive with someone who has a good knowledge of the park.
With over 1400 monuments scattered around the park, you would think it usually gets overcrowded; but surprisingly, it has very little traffic, meaning you get the park to yourself.
The well-known Battlefield Tour Road is the main trail here; it is filled with several civil war relics. The elegant view of the Mississippi River you can get here, along with panoramic scenes of the fields and hillsides surrounding this park is unrivaled. You can ride the entire trail in one fell swoop or divide the routes into five shorter loops.
10. Percy Quin State Park
Percy Quin State Park is another excellent mountain biking spot named after Percy Edwards Quin, well-known for his Reading Railroad investments.
The park is one of the very first state-owned parks. Initiated in the 1930s, the park borders Lake Tangipahoa, an estuary of the Tangipahoa River. One significant feature is the presence of rolling hills that have proven to be a delight to downhill lovers.
The trail itself is very enthralling. The 4-mile long trails can be divided into two segments, with both equally rewarding in rich scenery. The first part of the trail wanders through wooded regions and goes over different bridges. Roots stick out on every part of the route, so you should keep an eye out for these obstacles. The path emerges on a pipeline that passes straight into a service road.
The second part continues on the service road. Here, you are more likely to encounter walkers and hikers. It turns out into a nice switchback that takes you around the lake.
Be ready to get your feet wet, as some parts of the bridge have been washed out. Except, of course, you are flexible enough and trust in your prowess to attempt jumping the water spots. Overall, the trail is considered one for beginners. With almost no technical spots, bikers can navigate the route effortlessly.
Mississippi has been at the forefront of creating outdoor recreational facilities. Not as mountainous as some other states in the US, Mississippi has gone on to map out hundreds of miles of biking routes that would stand their ground against some of the country’s best trails. From the Delta to thick foliages of the state, you are sure to enjoy a great ride irrespective of the trail you pick or your skill level.