Walking trails abound at historic college

Published 12:11 am Friday, August 3, 2007

Recently, I met a lot of people at the gazebo for Let’s Go Walking Mississippi. It is a great program and as easy as buying a pair of walking shoes and hitting the trails, sidewalks, or roads in your area. Anyone and everyone can do it. While talking to several people I discovered many people did not know about the area trails already open to the public, namely the trails at Historic Jefferson College and Grand Village of the Natchez Indians both sites operated and maintained by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

A few miles from Natchez on 80 acres of beautiful grounds and woods, Jefferson College in Washington is home to one of the best nature trails around. The college grounds have been painstakingly restored and include lovely, manicured green lawns, an entrance and drive adorned with centuries-old live oaks, large azaleas, and crepe myrtles, and a landscape dotted with the south’s most favored trees including the southern magnolia, dogwoods, and sweet olives. Behind the historic brick buildings is the T.J. Foster Memorial Trail with hundreds of plants and trees clearly identified along the paths that wind past St. Catherine Creek and the college cemetery and also takes you over streams on wooden bridges and past Ellicott Springs. The trail features a long and short path. The long trail is 1 1/4 mile and the short trail is about a 1/2 mile. The trails are hilly and rugged, so be prepared for a good work out and wear appropriate shoes.

In town, we have the beautiful grounds of Grand Village of the Natchez Indians. We have several small trails and two large Indian mounds for those who feel the need to climb for a more effective workout. The trail around the mound area is a 1/2 mile walk on level ground. The one mile nature trail begins at the steps east of the Great Sun’s Mound through the low wooded area near the creek and ends at the steps west of the Temple Mound. This trail is mostly flat and wooded taking visitors past a reconstructed Natchez house and corn granary and three historic mounds. There are only two small hills that are carved well with steps. The wooded portion of the trail features various indigenous plants that are clearly marked.

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There are many reasons why you should come out and try the trails at your area parks. I called an old friend from college who just happens to be a Physical Recreation specialist. After speaking with her and hearing what she had to say I realized we met all of the criteria for a good healthy walk. Here are a few basic rules for a healthy and effective walk. 1. Walk on a smooth level surface that does not consistently slope to your right or left for this can cause back and joint pain. 2. Walk at a steady pace. 3. Avoid high traffic areas. 4. Frequent stops while walking do not burn calories. 5. When trying to lose weight do not put yourself in temptations path like walking by your favorite bakery or restaurant when you know the aromas might beckon you in.

So, if you want to go walking and you are not sure where to go, visit us sometime. We meet all of the criteria for a nice healthy walk and you may even get to see a deer in the woods. You may learn something about trees and plants. You may just see something you have never seen before, or see something that brings back a few childhood memories.

Both, Historic Jefferson College and Grand Village of the Natchez Indians are open free daily sunrise till dusk with buildings open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1:30 p.m to 5 p.m on Sundays. Both sites offer a museum, gift shop, restrooms, picnic areas and free, shaded parking. Jefferson College also offers a reference library in the 1931 Prospere Hall that now serves as the site’s visitor center. You may visit Historic Jefferson College and Grand Village on line at www.mdah.state.ms.us. For more information about Historic Jefferson College call 601-442-2901 or email hjc@mdah.state.ms.us. For more information about Grand Village of the Natchez Indians call 601-446-6502 or e-mail gvni@mdah.state.ms.us.

Rebecca Anderson is a historian at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians.