De Soto Ranger District
The De Soto is characterized by gently rolling terrain covered by southern pine ridges and hardwood bottoms with clear, tea-colored streams meandering throughout. Year-round recreation opportunities abound for the hiker, bicyclist, camper, canoeist, ATV rider, horse enthusiast, hunter, and fisherman. Length of stay limits do apply within our camping areas. Visitors who seek solitude will be able to find within one of the state's two wilderness areas-- the Black Creek or Leaf -- both located on the De Soto. The district is also home of the Mississippi's only national Scenic River, Black Creek, famous for its wide, white sandbars and relaxed floating pace. Two
National Recreation Trails, the Black Creek and the Tuxachanie, offer over 60 miles for the hiker to explore the pinewoods. Other trails on the district included Bethel and Rattlesnake Bay ATV trails, Big Foot horse trail, Leaf hiking trail, and Bethel bicycle trail. The nature observer may delight in experiencing the varied ecosystems found on the De Soto, from dry, sandy longleaf pine/scrub oak ridges to frequently flooded tupelo/bald cypress swamps, and from the steep upland hardwood forests of Ragland Hills to the vast pitcher plant savanna at Buttercup Flats.
Black Creek National Scenic River
The Black Creek extends 30 miles across the De Soto ranger district. Enjoy seeing wildlife, birds, wood ducks, and otters while floating along this scenic river. A 21 mile section of the creek is designated as the only National Scenic River in Mississippi.
- Primitive camping is allowed along the river.
- Two private outfitters provide canoe and kayak rentals for a fee.
- Access to the shore is proveded by five developed landings and numerous other undeveloped points.
Black Creek Wilderness Area
This area is named from the creek that crosses through its center, the Black Creek. This wilderness area is made up of 5,050 acres. The area offers solitude among its pine ridges, hardwood bottoms, oxbow lakes, and cypress swamps.
- Primitive camping allowed in wilderness.
- NO vehicles allowed, only foot travel is permitted within the wilderness.
- Non-fee area
*Remember Leave No Trace while visiting any wilderness or protected scenic area. See LNT.org site for a guide to wilderness travel and fun.
Threats to Wilderness (from wilderness.net)
Wilderness Damage by Hurricane Katrina
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast and reached as far inland as the De Soto Ranger District with winds in excess of 140 miles per hour. De Soto National Forest was subjected to some of strongest winds that impacted Mississippi and numerous tornadoes spawned. Nearly 90% of affected forestland was within 60 miles of the Gulf Coast, predominantly in Mississippi.
One of two main attractions on the De Soto National Forest is the 1.5 mile Leaf Trail which was destroyed by Katrina. Budget constraints have prevented the repair or replacement of raised sections of the Leaf trail. This trail consisted of three bridges and a boardwalk to cross the wetland areas on this piece of land in Mississippi. De Soto National Forest in south central Mississippi cleared downed trees from 501 miles of road. Today approximately 11 miles of hiking trail in the Black Creek Wilderness remain closed or damaged.