Hattiesburg Activities Range from Hiking to Hunting
PHOTO CREDIT: Todd Bennett
Hattiesburg offers a variety of recreational options that will move the most inveterate couch potato to get up and go outdoors.
Everything from a host of four-season golf courses, to running and bicycling to bass fishing and deer hunting can easily be enjoyed in the community.
Bikers, walkers, runners and rollerbladers are drawn to Longleaf Trace, a 41-mile recreation trail that stretches from Hattiesburg to Prentiss. The asphalt pathway was established in 2002 after three cities and three counties decided to transform an old railroad bed into a health-and-wellness destination.
Longleaf is registered as a national trail, and it starts in Hattiesburg at the University of Southern Mississippi campus, says Leslie Farmer, president of the Friends of Longleaf Trace advocacy group.
“I like to rollerblade, so I’m on Longleaf all the time,” she says. “I can’t say enough good things about it.”
The pathway is 10 to 15 feet wide, and there are eight stations along the way with bathroom facilities and drink machines. There are also several horse-riding trails that branch off from the Trace.
Friends of Longleaf Trace reports requests, questions and suggestions to a formal board comprised of three overseeing cities (Hattiesburg, Prentiss, Sumrall) and three counties (Forrest, Jefferson Davis, Lamar).
“For instance, in 2008 the Friends noticed that water fountains at two of the stations had only warm water, so we requested refrigerated water at those two stops. A short time later, refrigerated water was installed,” she says.
Farmer says she is proud of all six municipalities for consistently providing upkeep to the Trace.
“Debris that falls on Longleaf is blown off three times a week along all 41 miles,” she says. “In fact, there was a lot of major damage along the Trace in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, but the trail was back to looking great within only two months.”
Another outdoor hotspot near Hattiesburg is Paul B. Johnson Park, which features a 300-acre lake for activities such as paddle boating, canoeing and fishing. There is also an 18-hole disc golf course on site.
“For hunters, there are many opportunities around Hattiesburg to go after deer and wild turkey, while the rivers and tributaries offer good catches of bass, catfish, walleye and bream,” says Stewart Smith, marketing director for the Pat Harrison Waterway District that includes Hattiesburg. “And with the nice weather we have here in Southern Mississippi, this is just an ideal place if you are a fan of the great outdoors.”