Sunday, December 25, 2005

Tishomingo State Park

My thanks to Bill Brekeen, Tishomingo Park Manager, for the background information on the park.

Tishomingo State Park, named after a Chickasaw Indian Chief, is located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains providing the most picturesque and rugged terrain in Mississippi. The Park contains rock formations dating to the Devonian and Mississippian epochs of the Paleozoic era. This is the only location that these two formations are found in the State of Mississippi.

The park, comprised of 1530 acres, is located two miles south of Tishomingo off highway 25 or at mile marker 304 on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Tishomingo was the fifth state park opened in Mississippi under legislation passed in the depression years. The original construction was done by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the official opening date was May, 1939.

Spring, summer and fall provide naturalists with many different wildflowers and ferns. Combined with its unique setting, Tishomingo State Park gives plant lovers a double treat; a climate conducive to practically year round identification and over 600 species of ferns and wildflowers. Many of the plants in the park are quite rare and some are only found around Tishomingo.

Archaeological surveys have revealed area occupation since Early Atchaic Period (circa 7000 B.C.) or earlier times and a long, moderately intensive use of the park area and environs from Middle Archaic Period (circa 6000 B.C.) through Early Woodland Period times (terminating circa 200 B.C.), and became intensively utilized in the Middle Woodland Period (circa 200 B.C. to 400 A.D.). Much of the aboriginal use of the park can be attributed to its unique environment as a source for materials and foodstuffs.

Today's visitors to Tishomingo State Park discover the same timeless natural beauty that enchanted the Indians centuries ago. Tishomingo offers a unique landscape of massive rock formation and fern-filled crevices found nowhere else in Mississippi. Massive boulders blanketed in moss dot the hillsides, and colorful wildflowers border trails once walked by Native Americans.

Many of the original buildings and hand forged iron works are visible today. If you want to explore some of the history of the park you can start at park headquarters. Inside arrow and spear heads, pottery shards, and ancient grinding stones are on display. The hand forged Indian sign pointing at Loochapola Lodge is a piece of more modern history, and is the only surviving sign of three created by blacksmith Ernest Clausel. The lanterns and chandeliers at the lodge are also hand forged.

Another historical feature found in Tishomingo is a restored 1840's style log cabin. Donated in the early 1970's, the cabin was moved to the park from Prentiss County. Behind the cabin is a short loop trail that goes around the old CCC Pond. The surrounding forest is slowly reclaiming the area with flowering shrubs, water lilies, and cattails slowly choking off the shallow but photogenic waters. The small bridge over the dam that created the pond allows you to gaze down at small fish swimming just below the surface.

The park has a 13-mile long trail system ranging from short and scenic loops to a six-mile long trek that follows Bear Creek as it wanders through the park. The 3.5-mile Bear Creek Outcropping Trail is probably the most spectacular trek you can take. The trail starts at another distinctive feature of Tishomingo, a 200 foot long swinging bridge that passes over boulder-strewn Bear Creek. After crossing the bridge the trail passes by a series of cliffs, outcroppings and overhangs, including 60 foot Jean's Overhang, the largest in the park. The area is extremely popular for rock climbing and bouldering. A free permit can be obtained at the parks office. Helmets and other safety equipment are required at all times.

From the swimming pool you can hike two miles through hardwoods and mountain laurel along Bear Creek to 45-acre manmade Haynes Lake. The lake is well stock by the state of Mississippi and offers plenty of opportunity to catch catfish, crappie, bream and smallmouth bass. A boat ramp offers public access and gasoline engines up to 10 horsepower are allowed.

The trip starts eight miles north of park headquarters. Visitors can enjoy a three-hour lazy paddle through quiet forest along the placid waters of Bear Creek. Class I riffles make things interesting and rope swings along the way allow you to crash into one of several natural pools along Bear Creek. Visitors should be ready to assist with put in and pull out of canoes and should be in shape to handle the eight-mile long trip.

Tishomingo has a 62-site campground located along the shores of Haynes Lake. Recreational vehicles up to 32 feet can be accommodated. The modern heavily wooded sites include paved pads, water and electrical hookups, picnic tables and a fire ring. A dump station, flush toilets, and showers are also available. There are additional accommodations for tent camping adjacent to the RV park.

The park's cabins are all made from stone. Some cabins have wood floors and some have stone floors. Cabin 2, shown below is all stone icluding the interior walls.