Time to use your imagination: Water swirls around the working end of a paddle, slowly propelling a canoe through tannic waters, rapidly removing the worries of the rat race and the heat of a summer day.
With each easy stroke, the boat takes you deeper into Mississippi’s beautiful forestland and carries you further from the hustle and bustle.
Welcome to Black Creek, the state’s only entry on the list of National Wild and Scenic Rivers. It flows through the DeSoto National Forest, which in itself is designated a Wilderness Area.
Black Creek is part of the Pascagoula River system, which is the largest unimpeded river remaining in the lower 48 states. As remote and natural as the area is, it is easy to enjoy, as are many floatable steams in Mississippi.
“There is great access to both the creek and the forest,” said Rob Doherty of Hattiesburg, a frequent visitor to the waterway. “We’ve got good outfitters to set up your float trips and there’s great hiking trails that take you deep into the wilderness.
“And partner, if you can’t find peace there, then you are beyond help.”
Black Creek is just one of many great streams for floating, and the number of outfitters who provide reasonably priced access to common folk continues to grow.
The Southern half of the state dominates the floating scene.
In addition to the beautiful Black, with Brooklyn serving as the hub, there’s Okatoma Creek at Seminary, Bogue Chitto River at McComb, Magee’s Creek at Tylertown, Strong River at D’Lo and Puckett and Chunky River at Chunky. All offer good fishing, too.
Often overlooked, North Mississippi’s best float trip is also rated as one of the best in the country. Bear Creek near Tishomingo is rated by Reserve America as one of the Top 100 float trips in the nation. It flows in the state’s hill country, making a loop through the Appalachian foothills and Tishomingo State Park, which serves as the creek’s outfitter.
And those are just some of the ones with full-service operators.
Hardcore paddlers, who own their own canoes or kayaks, have scores of possibilities, from the Mississippi River to the Pearl River, and many smaller streams.
“Since I bought my kayak, I have paddled over 40 different lakes, streams and rivers within 100 miles of my home on Barnett Reservoir,” said James Thornton of Brandon. “I retired and wanted to stay active. I love the water so it was just natural to go that way. I have friends locally who join me and I now have friends from all over the country who bring their kayaks to Mississippi to enjoy our waters. The great thing about Mississippi, is that we can float all year.”
A full list of floatable streams and outfitters is available at VisitMississippi.org.