LeFleur’s Bluff State Park Where Nature Meets the City

LeFleur’s Bluff State Park, the newest Mississippi state park, has a unique position as it is an oasis of lush green foliage in the middle of urban Jackson, Mississippi. http://home.mdwfp.com/Parks/ParksInfo.aspx?id=97&lc=623 It offers camping, fishing, picnic areas and nature trails as well as a nine-hole golf course open to the public and a driving range.

Louis LeFleur was a French-Canadian explorer who started a trading post on the bluff overlooking the Pearl River around 1790. This grew to become the city of Jackson, Mississippi. Visiting LeFleur’s Bluff State Park offers recreation in a wild area while being near the vibrant life of the city. Jackson has museums, restaurants, shopping and an exciting nightlife along with special events throughout the year.

The park has easy hiking trails, the longest is .49 mile, through wooded areas, swampland and near Mayes Lake. The trails go from the day picnic area to the overnight camping area. They are marked by colors and some make a loop. The best place to begin hiking is behind the Mississippi Natural Science Museum. The Yellow Trail in .16 mile and is the shortest and the Purple Trail is .49 mile and is the longest.

LeFleur’s Bluff State Park has one of the largest playgrounds for children in Mississippi. Called the “Kid’s Zone”, it is near the picnic area, and it’s worth the price of admission just to come for that.

There is also a Disc Golf course with 18 baskets (9 at Mayes Lake and 9 at Riverside). To play these courses, the admission fee to the park is required. The golf course and driving range have golf carts, pull carts and clubs for rent at the pro shop. Call 601 362 5485 for information on tee times and fees.

The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science presents exhibits of native habitats and has an aquarium. It has over a million samples of Mississippi’s fish, birds, plants, reptiles, mammals, invertebrates and fossils. The museum manages 21 nature exhibits inside the park. There is a garden of native plants, a prairie ecosystem, a woodland farm pond and a woodland area. There are fossils that are 50 to 60 million years old from a time when the whole area was an inland sea.

Both the Pearl River and Mayes Lake are open for boating and fishing. The fish include bass, catfish, crappie and bream. A Mississippi State fishing license is required for everyone between 16 and 65. Licenses can be purchased at the park office. Jet skis are not allowed on Mayes Lake. Electric trolling motors are allowed.

LeFleur’s Bluff State Park has 28 campsites that have electricity and water connections for tent and RV camping. Call 601 988 3985 for camping information. There are also two villas near the golf course that can be rented for business meetings and family reunions. Each villa has four bedrooms complete with bed and bath linen and connects to a central living space. They have a fireplace with gas logs and screened in porches. One villa has wheelchair access with a ramp. Call 601 987-3923 for more information or reservations.

LeFleur’s Bluff State Park is located on I-55. Take the 98B exit which is Lakeland Drive. The climate is temperate, hot and humid in the summer and cool, possibly freezing, in the winter. There are thunderstorms in the spring and summer and the Pearl River is prone to flood the Mayes Lake Campground. Park officials are notified in advance of any possible flooding.

Pets are not allowed in any of the park buildings, and no alcohol or firearms are allowed. The campground gates are locked from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. and the lock codes are given to each guest. For day trippers, a fee is charged per vehicle. The park is not open on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Day.

Jackson, the Mississippi State Capitol has some interesting places to visit while staying at LeFleur’s Bluff State Park including the Museums of Art as well as Natural Science, and the State Historical Museum. There is the Russel C. Davis Planetarium, Mynelle Gardens and several malls for shopping.