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Hiking Trails and Boardwalks

Permits

Hiking trails and boardwalks provide opportunities for the public to enjoy and explore the wildlife found at the refuge during daylight hours. To protect wildlife and your pet, please ensure that pets are leashed at all times and be aware that alligators are present in Refuge waters. Some trails are within the hunting areas of the Refuge, take extra precautions during hunting seasons. During the gun deer hunts, hikers should wear orange vests for safety. 

  • Bluff Lake Boardwalk

    This boardwalk is located at the north end of Bluff Lake, near the intersection of Bluff Lake Road and River Road. Offering visitors an opportunity to view wildlife in a different habitat, it stretches nearly 1,000 through a cypress island at the edge of Bluff Lake. The covered overlook has a binocular telescope for viewing wildlife. In summer, the overlook offers the best view of the Bluff Lake rookery which is home to thousands of nesting egrets, herons, and ibis. Spring and fall bring migrating songbirds to the edge of Bluff Lake, and the boardwalk gives good access to these elusive birds. Benches along the boardwalk provide opportunities to rest and enjoy the sounds of the area or a chance to stop and watch the birds. Fishing is not permitted on this boardwalk. The boardwalk is wheelchair accessible.

  • Beaver Dam Trail

     This “there-and-back” type of trail makes for a round trip of two miles. The trailhead is located near the spillway on the Bluff Lake levee. Winding through bottomland hardwood forest it offers a good opportunity to view species of wildlife such as great blue herons, wood ducks, and even white-tailed deer. After hiking down the stairs at the trail’s start, this trail is mostly flat and follows the meanderings of Oktoc Creek as it travels from Bluff Lake toward the Noxubee River.  Because of its proximity to the creek, potions of the trail are often flooded after heavy rainfalls. Although beaver are sometimes seen in the area, don’t be surprised if you can’t locate a beaver dam, because this trail’s namesake disappeared long ago. At the trail’s end, there is a signpost which reads “END OF TRAIL.” Continuing past this point and onto the levee road is not advised.  Instead, retrace your steps the way you came and discover what you may have noticed along the trail on your way back to the car. This trail is not wheelchair accessible. 

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  • Morgan Hill Overlook and Prairie Trail

    Connecting the parking area to the Morgan Hill Overlook, the Morgan Hill loop takes visitors through a Prairie Demonstration Area, the trail passes by plants indicative of the Black Belt prairie.  Don't be surprised if you find a burned field here, as prescribed fire is used to maintain this unique prairie habitat.  Visitors may see a variety of plants and animals including Indian grass, plume grass, white-tailed deer, fox and various species of waterfowl, butterflies and songbirds. Spring and summer are the best seasons to see several varieties of butterflies. Fall wildflower viewing can be spectacular in this grassland habitat. Waterfowl are best seen in the late evenings of fall and winter as the birds flock to the back of the lake to roost.The trail has a packed gravel surface making it wheelchair accessible to the overlook with an accessible ramp. The Morgan Hill Overlook, equipped with a binocular telescope, provides visitors a panoramic vista of 450-acre Loakfoma Lake.

  • Dr. Ray Watson Trail

    This trail is dedicated to the memory of Dr. James Ray Watson (1935-2006), retired professor of botany at Mississippi State University. Dr. Watson, who taught dendrology for many years, frequently used Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge for outdoor lab sessions with his students. He also enjoyed hunting, birdwatching, and just being at the Refuge. The loop is located across the road from the Refuge Office/Visitor Center.  Approximately ¾-mile long, it leads hikers through a typical second-growth stand of pine-hardwood forest that naturally regenerated. Before this land became part of the Refuge it was under cultivation. In fact, if one looks closely along the trail, a few elevated rows can still be seen. More recent evidence of human activity is the furrowed fire lines that were plowed by Refuge personnel to act as fire breaks. Over 30 species of trees, shrubs, and woody vines have been identified along the trail.  Each is marked by numbered signs and plant identification markers. A trail guide is available at the Visitor Center to help you identify the species of plants. This trail is not wheelchair accessible.

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  • Webster Memorial Oak Grove and Overlook

    This two-story observation tower offers a lower level that is wheelchair accessible and an upper level accessible by stairs. The viewing platform is covered and offers a wonderful scene of Loakfoma Lake. Wildlife commonly seen from this vantage point includes: bald eagles, alligators, deer, and wading birds. The tower is located off of the Webster Memorial Oak Grove on the edge of Loakfoma Lake across from the Visitor Center.

  • Cypress Cove Recreational Boardwalk

    This winding boardwalk is located on Bluff Lake at Doyle Arm. A little over 500 feet in length, this boardwalk provides access to Bluff Lake for fishing, sightseeing, birdwatching, or just a different view. It takes the visitor into a cypress grove on the edge of Bluff Lake and into the domain of the alligators and water dwelling creatures.  In warm weather the floating cypress logs offer sunning spots for turtles. Wading birds, waterfowl, bald eagles, and a large winter rookery of cormorants are often seen here. This boardwalk is wheelchair accessible.

  • Goose Overlook

    This 30 foot high observation platform overlooks Dickerson Arm of Bluff Lake and is a favorite wildlife viewing area for many people. During the fall, as many as 400 Canada Geese, and up to 70 White Tailed Deer can be seen at one glance in the fields and lake from this location. The platform is accessed by a level, handicap accessible, 150-ft sidewalk. This site is open year-round, daylight hours only.

  • Woodpecker Trail

    All species of woodpeckers native to the Southeast can be found on the half-mile round trip trail, located across from the Goose Overlook. The trail is one of the shortest found on the Refuge, and if you have only 20 to 30 minutes of time this trail is a good choice. Periodically throughout the trail are informative signs explaining the plants and animals you may find. A wooden bench, overlooking Bluff Lake, is located near the half-way point of the trail. The trail winds through a mature stand of loblolly pine which houses an active cluster of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. The openness of the forest is the result of prescribed burns conducted by Refuge staff to benefit the red-cockaded woodpeckers that prefer open, park-like, stands of older pines. The best time to observe these endangered birds is at sunrise or sunset as they are leaving their cavities to forage or coming in to roost.  May is the best time to observe the adults feeding their young at the cavity.  This trail is not wheelchair accessible.

  • Scattertown Trail

    This 1.75-mile loop is located in the Bevill Hill area of the Refuge. It runs along the ridges of the North Central Hills and is one of the Refuge’s most scenic trails. Upland hardwoods, shortleaf pine, mockernut hickory and a thick stand of switch cane are some of the plants hikers will see. The upland hardwood forests and hilly topography make this one of the best places on the Refuge to see fall colors. The views from the top of the ridges into the ravines can be spectacular during both fall and spring. Visitors to this trail should be ready for moderately steep terrain and should wear orange during deer hunting season. This trail is not wheelchair accessible.

  • Craig Pond Trail

    Located off of Hwy 25 just south of St. Marks Road is one of our newest trails.  Hikers travel through a bottomland hardwood area just north of Chinchahoma Creek. Although the highway is close, as you get to the back of the loop the sounds of traffic fade away and it is easy to feel as if you are truly “getting away” from civilization. A spur trail takes visitors to Craig Pond where it is not uncommon to see wintering waterfowl and occasionally a beaver.  Craig Pond is open to fishing from March 1 through October 31.  There are benches along the trail and an informational kiosk at the parking lot. The trail is susceptible to flooding from Chinchahoma Creek after periods of heavy rain.  This trail is not wheelchair accessible.

  • Trail of Big Trees

    Now approximately one-half mile in length, it was originally a four-mile, to-and-from type trail, leading the hiker to a National Champion Shumard Oak tree. The Champion tree fell before the trail was finished. The name of the trail persisted due to the many sizable trees to be seen along this part of the Noxubee River. Several years ago a tornado found its way down the trail and significantly shortened the trail, the trail is nearly impassible to follow for many hikers. Many species of wildlife may be observed from this trail including beaver, squirrel, wood ducks, deer and otter. To get to this trail, turn onto the River Road off of Bluff Lake Road and continue to the end. There is a parking area, and the trail entrance is marked with a sign. River Road is open year-round except when flooded by the Noxubee River. This trail is not wheelchair accessible.

  • Wilderness Trail

    This 4-mile loop, maintained by the Starkville chapter of the Sierra Club, is located at the end of Keaton Tower Road.   As you enter the trail, it skirts the Noxubee River offering beautiful views. The sandy soil, at the beginning of the trail, is a great place to see tracks of wild animals such as bobcat, beaver, otter, white-tailed deer and raccoon. The trail loop begins with a metal footbridge crossing the Noxubee River.  The trail then leads hikers through beautiful mature hardwoods and by some spectacular root masses. The trail was re-routed after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita felled many of the giant trees. You will see evidence of these storms throughout the trail. This area is proposed for official wilderness designation since it has had no active management for the past years.  Because this trail is located in a proposed wilderness area it is managed as if it were designated wilderness, meaning trail markers are absent and chainsaws are not used to clear fallen trees. This trail is also susceptible to flooding from the Noxubee River after periods of heavy rainfall. This trail is not wheelchair accessible and should only be hiked by those comfortable with outdoor navigation.

Last Updated: May 26, 2015
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