Judging by the number of kayaks strapped to the top of vehicles these days, it’s clear that this outdoor experience is becoming quite popular. And, it is not hard to find locations to launch these craft for a water-level view of the world. Coastal Mississippi is fortunate to have so many scenic streams and bayous to explore, but where are the most beautiful places to float?
To find out, I reached out to three of the most experienced kayakers (and friends) I know – members of the Pascagoula Paradise Paddlers who are always on the water – Eric Richards, Jimmy Krebs, and Darcie Crew. I challenged these intrepid paddlers (separately) to name their top three favorite places to paddle, along with the next seven to complete their top 10 floats. Although there was some agreement about a couple of iconic locales, the results support the notion that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. But that is the “beauty” of this exercise – it celebrates just how many great places there are to explore – at eye level with the world – with a damp butt.
Here are the results, along with brief comments as to why these places are so special:
1. Unnamed bayou from Parker Lake to the Upper end of Caswell Lake: Huge cypress trees and unspoiled river bottomland.
2. Franklin Creek, accessed from Presley’s Outing: Spooky due to the unending tunnel of trees.
3. Big Bear Creek, accessed from Poticaw Landing: Large cypress trees and variety of wildlife.
- Bayou Cumbest, accessed from the public launch.
- Escatawpa River from Presley’s Outing to Shingle Mill Landing.
- Little Bluff Creek, accessed from Barge Landing.
- Marsh maze of unnamed bayous, accessed from Hemlock Street launch.
- Creole Bayou, accessed from Little River Marina.
- Three Rivers Lake, upper-end bayous, accessed from Little River Marina.
- Jackson Creek, accessed from Presley’s Outing.
1. Franklin Creek/Jackson Creek, EZ access, a lot to explore.
2. Ward/Poticaw Bayou, beautiful, remote, wildlife and diverse fauna.
3. Davis/Heron Bayous, accessible, many birds, needs preserving.
- Pascagoula and Escatawpa Rivers, free-flowing and beautiful.
- Bluff Creek, popular, diverse in its course.
- Graveline Bayou, on the MS sound, old oaks, and diverse.
- McInnis Bayou, lower end of our flyway area, accessible and easy.
- Mary Walker Bayou, a main artery that leads to additional waterways to explore.
- Bayou Cumbest, shell midden, good fishing, accessible.
- Old Fort Bayou, easy paddling blueway, convenient, accessible.
1. Parker Lake to Caswell Lake, a step back in time, magnificent.
2. Bayou Cumbest, a variety of habitats, scenic vistas (and if you go north from the boat ramp, it is pretty adventurous).
3. Escatawpa River, cool water, beautiful, mostly natural state of river.
- Pascagoula River (of course)
- Castille Bayou, so pretty and leads to the Sandhill Crane Refuge Property.
- Poticaw Bayou to Little Bear to Parrish Lake.
- Ward Bayou/Big Bear, from the Ward Bayou Wildlife Management Area.
- Whiskey Bayou, connects east and west Pascagoula channels.
- Old Fort Bayou.
- Davis Bayou.
If you need a map, Jackson County has four established blueways that you can start with. Details provided by the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area – https://gis.dmr.ms.gov/Blueways/. For more information about paddling Jackson County, contact Barb Medlock at the Jackson County Recreation Department at 228-826-5330.
Hope to see you in our great outdoors!