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The Tuxachanie Trail is a National Recreation Trail offering a 12-mile hike through southern Mississippi's Desoto National Forest. A portion of the trail follows an old abandoned railroad that once served the sawmill of the Dantzler Lumber Company at Howison. Hikers will encounter a variety of forest vegetation; savannahs and swamps lie between the ridges. Here, pitcher plants and palmettos grow in abundance, as well as the occasional wild orchid. Timbered ridges of longleaf and slash pine add to the scenery.
Overnight primitive camping is permitted, but campsites must be 100 feet away from the trail to preserve its natural character. Drinking water and restrooms are not provided along the trail but can be found at Airey Lake Recreation Area.
While this trail is designated for foot travel only, there is a short section that is used in conjunction with the Big Foot Horse Trail. No motorized vehicles are allowed. Fishing is permitted mid-trail at the Airey Lake Recreation Area and at the P.O.W. Lake Recreation Area at the trail's eastern end.
On its western end, the first 1/4 mile of trail from US 49 has a hard-packed surface, allowing for wheelchair accessibility; however, there are some some roots.
The trail can be accessed from three different trailheads, where parking is available: on the trail's western end off US 49 north of Saucier (look for the rows of live oaks), mid-trail at the Airey Lake Recreation Area (off County Road 412/Airey Tower Road), and at the P.O.W. Lake Recreation Area at the eastern terminus of the trail.
From Wiggins: Travel south on US 49. The primary trailhead is located 2.5 miles north of Saucier, on the east side of US 49.
This is a very easy trail but a good scenic trail. Get to look at a lot of different types of nature, ponds, lakes, and a POW camp. Flat trail that makes the higher mileage easier for newer hikers.
This is a great trail for beginners. It is well marked and fairly flat. If you park a car at Airey Lake and ride in a second car to the Highway 49 trailhead, the roughly 6 mile walk is fairly nice. I have hiked it one way (6.2 miles) or roundtrip from Airey Lake to Highway 49 and back (12.4 miles) or the long hike from Highway 49 to Airey Lake to the POW Camp. Sometimes the long route is not well marked, so you have to figure out which way to go, but as hikes go, it's nice, but long. As someone else said, you need to bring plenty of water for these hikes, as there is not a supply except a couple of spots. Also, South Mississippi can get incredibly hot midday till late afternoon. I recommend starting very early in the morning. Parts of the trail have no canopy, so you are in full sunlight.
This is a pine forest trail. It is well marked and clean. We at lunch by a stream. It has a few hills and some roots, but it is really a well maintained trail.
I traveled I-10 W-exit 46 D'Iberville-hwy 67. When 67 junctions with 49-the trail head is just north on the east side.
The trail was very well marked with white blazes-though they were only needed for confirmation as the trail is very obvious the entire way. Mostly flat, wide enough for 2 to walk abreast most of the way, very well maintained trail. A large part of the trail is grassy and had been recently mowed-I actually encountered a mower while hiking-kudos to them as I can't imagine how tall the grass might be w/o them.
There were mile markers every mile and I felt they were probably appropriate distance as my time hitting them was very consistent.
Great easy hike to Lake Airey and back. Distance to Lake Airey from 49 definitely around the 5. 5 to 5.6 range.
Hike: 25 May 2008, Review: 29 May 2008
First and formost, if you plan to start this hike and plan on going all the way to POW lake, make sure you have the time and resources for the hike. It will take you a day to do this. I started my hike with my friend and my dog, all three of us young and full of energy with both of us being in the military. The hike started at 7:30am, and we did not return until 8:40 pm.
At the trail head on 49, the first 5 miles are easy going, good for a stroll in the woods if thats what you were looking for. Lots of little streams here and there with plenty of shade for the most part. Pretty flat too, with just the occational hill here and there. The trail is marked pretty well with white diamonds, so if you do happen to wonder off the trail, you could spot those easyily and make your way back. Each mile is marked with the mile markers, little posts in the ground, although im not too sure how accurate the distances are, but its a good mental tool in either case. once you emerge from the woods and come into Airey lake camp ground, the first thing you come to is the only bathroom you will have the chance to use the entire trip (you may want to bring your own TP for two reasons, one the bathrooms TP is like tissue paper, and two you may need it while your out in the woods). After the restroom, you can go fill all your water at one of the two water stations on the camp ground. I might also add that these are the only ones on the trail that I know of. This is a great place to stop eat and rest/relax before the next leg... IF your going on to POW lake.
When your ready to hit the trail for the next 7 miles, you continue on around to the left of the lake and follow the path. The first mile is pretty much all down hill (keep this in mind when your on your return trip, because your going to be hating this mile on the way back). The next 2 or 3 miles is pretty flat, but curvy grass land under a light cover of trees, little shade throught here, so make sure to have lots of water. Once you hit the 10 mile marker, its gets ruff. For two miles its twist and turn up and down... it really gives you a work out, and with the 11 mile marker missing, it plays a mind trick on you, makes it feel like your hiking for ever. But once you get out of it all, you come to POW lake and its a wonderfull site. Beware of the gators, so dont get to close to the shore. Once you have had a breather, time to go back.
Things you will need for your hike on this trail. Water... Lots of it. Food that does not need to be kept cool, you could bring a cooler but there is no way it is going to stay cold the entire time. TP, you never know when you will need it. Extra socks, you will be sweating heavily depending what time of year you go out. Did i mention water yet? yeah, thats the most important part, bring water and have fun.
My friend and I have recently found and started to hike the Tuxachanie trail. We started at the trail head on 49 and went to Airey lake, had a hot lunch and hiked back, which was 10 miles round trip. It was easy going with lots to look at, something great for the family and dog. Now going from Airey Lake to POW lake and back is 14 miles round trip and conciderably more difficult than that of the first leg. But all in all just bring lots of water and you'll be just fine.
Hike: 25 March 2008 Posted: 28 March 2008
Here are several GPS waypoints obtained during my 25 March 2008 hike on the western section of the Tuxachanie Trail from the Hwy 49 trailhead to Airey Camp (aka Airey Lake Campground). I had not learned of the RTC GPS Mapping Initiative until after the hike so the following GPS info is not in accordance with the RTC format and does not "trace" the trail. My intention is to return to the trail and collect a more thorough set of waypoints to submit to RTC.
One waypoint is for a geocache shown to me by an elderly gent, Ralph, who walks the trail with his dog, Sam, several times a week. He showed me the geocache and I took the GPS waypoint (I took nothing, left nothing, did not sign the log - so I gotta go back!). Rather than include the specific coords here (mine are slightly different anyway), I ask that folks go to the website geocaching.com to look up this particular geocache listing ("Tucachanie Coconut" (yeah, it's misspelled), thanks APLZ), search for additional Tuxachanie Trail geocaches (at various mile markers, thanks ZingerMTB), and to learn about geocaching in general...just like I did. Looks like an addicting activity and should add to the fun of walking and biking RTC trails.
Tux Trail - Hwy 49 Trailhead N30 39.996 W89 08.013
Tux Trail - Waypoint 1 N30 39.853 W89 07.668
Tux Trail - Waypoint 2 N30 40.392 W89 06.081
Tux Trail - Waypoint 3 N30 40.491 W89 04.982
Tux Trail - City Bridge Road Trailhead N30 41.319 W89 03.722
(across the road from Airey Camp)
Airey Camp Parking Lot N30 41.347 W89 03.688
The "Tucachanie Coconut" geocache is located at one of the waypoints above....but I'm not tellin'! Go to the geocaching.com homepage, find "View a Cache Listing" near the upper right of the page, enter the waypoint name "GC13146", do the search, and read about the geocache. The "treasure" is on the edge of the trail but naturally camouflaged so look hard.
I returned to Tux Trail on 25 March 2008 and hiked the western section from Hwy 49 to Airey Lake Campground, then back again.
The trailhead and parking lot at Hwy 49 is very clean and well maintained. The trail is completely clear the entire way. A significant length of the trail is through what was described to me by a local person on the trail as a controlled burn. He believed it was a recent burn, since the beginning of the year, which seemed reasonable since there was still an occasional whiff of the burn and very little if any green growth. All streams and low spots have wood or steel bridges, or wood planks, or in one area, decorative garden blocks. There are plenty of water sources, either fast or slow moving streams or nearby ponds. Filtering or treating the water would be prudent. A 1983 USFS map of the original trail (purchased from a gas station on Hwy 26 in Wiggins, MS, west of Hwy 49) indicates the length of this section of the trail was 4.7 miles. A conversation with an another local person on the trail revealed that over time this section of the trail has been rerouted twice, adding about 0.9 miles to the length, making the new length about 5.6 miles. This section of the trail intersects several times with well packed dirt and gravel backroads so hiking the trail in sections is possible. The trail is well marked with white diamond blazes. The trail is well worn so it's hard to accidentally lose the trail but the blazes are well placed for the most part. Near Hwy 49 there are a few tricky sections without trees that have colored plastic tape across the wrong path to keep you on the trail. There are numerous signs along the trail indicating bicycles are prohibited. That's too bad since it would be a great location for a "bike hike".
The eastern end of this section of the Tux Trail is across City Road from Airey Camp (as taken from the USFS sign in front) and then continues through the campground and into the eastern part of the trail that loops around to the east and south for nearly 20 miles. The southern most part of the trail is accessible at Bethel Road and allows a short hike to an old POW camp. Airey Camp is a well maintained, limited camping USFS site in De Soto National Forest. There is a single room bathroom with running water for the toilet and sink. There is a single community water faucet near the parking lot. The parking lot is ringed by a wooden post barrier to prevent vehicles being driven onto the grass and to the camp sites. Airey Lake (really more of a big pond) used to be a good fishing spot but it looked to me like it could be "dead" now. Lots of lily pads and surface scum along the shore with dark brown water with no surface activity. There were no bugs out so perhaps the fish were all still relatively deep. The informative signs about the types of fish in the pond and fishing rules are no longer posted so perhaps that's an indication it's no longer a fishing spot. Too bad. I've submitted several photos of the trail. I took some GPS waypoints and will provide the info in a future post here.
Overall, a very nice hiking trial. Suitable for hikers (or slow walkers) of all ages. it would even be a fun trail for the trailrunners out there.
"Trail visit as of 23 October 2005. Review as of 18 November 2005
A disappointing first visit to the MS 49 trailhead in that numerous trees were down around the entire area as well as a couple in the parking lot. USFS signs warned the area was off limits for public use. No evidence of any effort to clear the parking lot or trailhead.
I then headed to the trailhead at Airey Lake Campground. The campground was closed due to numerous trees and debris with more USFS signs warning it was off limits. I headed westward on the Tuxachanie Trail for only about a mile until the way was blocked by a fallen tree and the overgrowth on either side was too dense to safely work my way around (especially with a 45 lb backpack - I was planning to overnight near the trail). I had to navigate on the trail over, around, and once even under falled trees on the trail. Again, no evidence of any effort to clear the trail.
I then ""snuck"" in through the campground to the main part of the trail and attempted to head east. [Again, no evidence of any clearing debris in the campground.] Just past Airey Lake the trail was blocked by a fallen tree and passage around it would have been difficult. I probably could have bushwhacked around the area or even driven to another trailhead on Bethel Road but by this point I had pretty much accepted that the trail would be unpassable again eventually. I just dropped my pack, broke out my stove, had a hot lunch, and just relaxed for a while.
I imagine that the clearing of Tuxachanie Trail has a low priority on just about all organization's lists so I expect it could be months or more before any trail improvement can be expected. If anyone is aware of any pending effort to clear Tux Trail needing volunteers, I'd like to hear about it.
Comments or trail updates are welcome.
U.S. Navy, Retired
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