Big Hill Pond State Park

In January 2019 I went for a hike in Big Hill Pond State Park, located in southwestern Tennessee just north of the Mississippi border. The park has nearly 30 miles of hiking trails, 14 miles of which are also open to horses and mountain bikes, as well as a reservoir (Travis McNatt Lake), campground, backcountry campsites, observation tower, and historic sites. (park map)

My hike totaled 8.4 miles over nearly 3 hours with a total of 682 feet of elevation gain and began at the boat launch on Travis McNatt Lake. I began by hiking counterclockwise around the lake on the Dry Ridge Trail, which passes around the northern and western side of the lake. From the boat launch the trail closely follows the lakeshore for 0.65 mi before crossing the stream and wetlands at the north side of the lake.

From there the Dry Ridge Trail makes a short climb above the lake and goes up and down three small hills and valleys over 1.35 mi. Over this section of the trail there were some muddy sections in the va…

Davis Bridge Battlefield

Davis Bridge Battlefield (also known as the Battle of Hatchie's Bridge) is a historic site in southwestern Tennessee that was the site of a Civil War battle on October 5, 1862.

Today there are two areas of the battlefield open to the public. The first is an observation area along Pocahontas Road on Metamora Hill that served a the Union line. There is a parking area and and some interpretive signs on the hill.

The second site is directly west of and down the hill from the previous site along Essary Springs Road and part of Shiloh National Military Park. This area has a parking area, a gate blocking the old road (which is now a trail) and a sign at the entrance.

The trail is about one-third of a mile (one way) to the end of the trail (plus one-third of a mile back), with basically no change in elevation. The trail follows was used to be the road through the forest to the site of the bridge across the Hatchie River. There is one interpretive sign near the start of the trail and anoth…

Baker's Pond Trail in Holly Springs National Forest

Baker's Pond, located in Holly Springs National Forest in northern Mississippi, is a spring-fed pond that is the source of the Wolf River. There is (as of January 2019) a ~0.5 mile (one-way) trail that gains about 150 feet of elevation (round trip) to the lake.

The trail starts at a trailhead not far off the south side of U.S. Highway 72. Accessing the trailhead requires driving down a well-maintained dirt road that is passable in any vehicle. There is small parking area at the trailhead, as well as a sign mentioning the importance of restoring the forest.

The trail was originally about a 2.5 mile loop that appears to have followed the road at some point according to this U.S. Forest Service map. However, in December 2015 an EF-4 tornado passed through the area just south of the pond and completely destroyed all of the forest in its path. Since that time the trail has been an out-and-back trail that ends on the south side of Baker's Pond.

The trail itself is an easy walk that …

Civil War Earthworks at Tallahatchie Crossing

Along Mississippi Highway 7 between Holly Springs and Oxford are the Civil War Earthworks at Tallahatchie Crossing. This site was the location parapets for Union cannons in late 1862 as General Grant moved along the Mississippi Central Railroad from their supply base in Holly Springs towards Oxford, and ultimately Vicksburg.

This is a mostly unknown site with no signs or markers to help you find it. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and sits on federal public land surrounding Sardis Lake.

When you turn from Mississippi Highway 7 just north of the Little Tallahatchie River onto Old Oxford Road in Marshall County you will shortly pass through a farm field (cotton in 2018). Park along this road, and continue south along the field's eastern side. As you round the southern side of the field, the historic site will be just through the trees along the field's edge.

All that remains are several mounds, covered in trees and other vegetation and fairly eas…

Rocky Ridge Horse Trail at Enid Lake 2018

I previously hiked the Rocky Ridge Horse Trail on the north side of Enid Lake, Mississippi in March 2017. The trail was in poor shape then, and this time (October 2018) it was in even worse condition.

There is a section in the middle of the trail where it passes a small pond where the dam around the culvert has almost completely washed out. That section is completely impassible for horses, and only careful hikers can traverse around. I wouldn't be surprised if it soon was impassible on foot. Not helping that was a group of large downed trees uphill (on the west side) of that pond that also make the trail impassible for horses.

As I mention in the video above and in my previous post, signs designating the trail can be difficult to find, if they exist. Numerous spurs go in many directions from the trail, and it seems much of the western part of the trail is used predominantly by ATVs.

I didn't hike all of the eastern section of the trail (I just hiked from the pond towards Midwa…

Forest 44 Conservation Area

Forest 44 Conservation Area is located along Interstate 44 in Valley Park, Missouri, just outside of St. Louis. There are over 11 miles of multi-use trails (which seem to be predominantly used by horses), a 0.4-mile paved accessible trail (Losing Stream Trail), and a 2.2 mile hiking only trail (Dogwood Ridge Trail).

The Losing Stream Trail goes from the parking lot to the stream, where you are able to see where the stream disappears into the ground due to the porous bedrock. This trail used to have a bridge across the stream a short distance upstream, but on this visit the bridge was no longer there. It was reasonably easy for me to cross the stream without the bridge, so I continued to the other side where I was able to hike the Dogwood Ridge Trail.

I hiked the Dogwood Ridge Trail back in 2012 and hiked it again on a summer morning in 2018, as I was staying at a nearby hotel. I began by first climbing up the section onto the ridge itself, which is about half of the trail. There is a …

Sandstone Canyon Trail in Don Robinson State Park

Don Robinson State Park is one of Missouri's newest state parks. It was donated by its namesake and former landowner to the state in 2012 following his death and opened to the public in 2017. The park is situated in the southern end of the Labarque Creek watershed, which features some of the area's other conservation areas I've also visited, including Labarque Creek Conservation Area, Young Conservation Area, and Glassberg Family Conservation Area.

The park contains two loop hiking trails, the Sandstone Canyon Trail (4 miles) and Labarque Hills Trail (2.4) miles. I hiked the Sandstone Canyon Trail, the first 0.6 miles of which are paved. It also has a connector trail, enabling you to make shorter loops out of it.

If you hike the trail clockwise, you first walk the paved section along a ridge before it turns downhill, and the remaining part of the trail is unpaved. After a short descent into the valley, you enter the sandstone canyon itself. This isn't much of a canyon,…