Tishomingo Park a corner of Mississippi like no other
by Lisa Monti
Published: March 27,2014
Tishomingo State Park is packed with scenery, history and amenities located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Mississippi’s uppermost corner. It’s known for its natural beauty and features such as large rock formations that are unique in Mississippi. Where else can you go rock climbing?
Park manager Bill Brekeen said first-time visitors who are used to traveling out of state to enjoy the mountains are pleasantly surprised by what they find at Tishomingo.
“They can’t envision we have this type of setting in the state. It’s like going to the mountains but you’re staying in Mississippi. It’s gorgeous, a nature lover’s paradise.”
The scenic Natchez Trace Parkway runs right through the park, which is named for Chief Tishomingo, the leader of the Chickasaw Nation. Excavations have found evidence of Indians in the area of the park dating back to 7,000 B.C.
“We’ve got a lot of history here,” Brekeen said. The park is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated Mississippi Landmark.
Most of the park’s buildings constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps are still in use today.
Tishomingo is hugely popular with campers. “The CCC Cabins are a big draw,” he said. “We have one of the highest cabin occupancy rates year round in the park system.”
Sixty-two developed camping sites have picnic tables, grills and hook-ups for water and electrical service with bathhouses nearby. Campers have direct access to Haynes Lake. These sites are so popular that campers are encouraged to make reservations early.
Tent camping is available in the large, heavily wooded section of the park that overlooks Haynes Lake. Water, restrooms and showers are within walking distance. Six cabins that can accommodate four people are available for rental. They overlook Bear Creek, have screened in porches or patios and stone fireplaces. Again, reservations are strongly recommended. The recently added Cottage can accommodate four people and is handicapped accessible.
Group camping is handled in six air-conditioned cabins for groups up to 108 people with separate quarters for counselors. Meals are served cafeteria style in the dining hall. Five primitive air conditioned huts for up to 46 people also are available.
Tishomingo State Park’s 13-mile nationally recognized hiking trail system, one of the top in the state, shows off some of the beautiful natural assets in the park including views from its rock ridges and low canyons and along the scenic Bear Creek. You can take a scenic walk on the Swinging Bridge, built in 1939 high above Bear Creek. “People come from miles around to get on that bridge,” Brekeen said.
In addition to the excellent hiking opportunities the park offers a seasonal 6.25-mile canoe float trip on Bear Creek when the weather and water level permits. Enjoy the bluffs, vegetation, shoals and rapids along the way. There’s a fee for the canoe, paddles, lifejackets and transportation.
For something completely different, Tishomingo offers permitted rock climbing, one of the foothill features you won’t find anywhere else in Mississippi. Climbers must have their own equipment and get a permit before starting the climb. Guides are sold in the Park Office. “We issue 1,500 to 2,000 permits a year,” said Brekeen.
For more down to earth recreation, the park has freshwater fishing and also boating on Haynes Lake where you can launch your own boat. The lake is stocked with catfish, bream and bass but you need a state fishing license that can be purchased for a small fee.
Disc Golf players can play the three park courses for free year round with the normal entrance fee. Golfers can rent discs and get score cards in the park office. Die Hard disc golfers can compete in the Ice Bowl in January, the Spring Disc Golf Tournament in March and the Fall Classic in October. It’s fun to watch and players come from all walks of life.
The park swimming pool near the Family Cabin area is open seasonally and has shower facilities. There is a fee to use the pool. Said Brekeen: “This will be the sixth season in our new pool. It’s one of our big draws.”
The park also has a number of picnic sites with grills, and the three covered pavilions can be reserved for a small fee. Playground equipment is also available with several sites located throughout the park. An 1840s restored log cabin in a natural setting offers an interesting look at pioneer life.
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