Area perfect for reaching fitness goals

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Getting fit and losing weight top countless resolution lists this time of year.

Only those uber-athletes confident in their shape are able to say fitness isn’t a goal, a hope or at least a dream in the new year.

But resolutions seem to be made to be broken, and you may think the extra weight is here to stay another year.

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Southwest Mississippi and the Miss-Lou are great places to stay strong in your goals though.

From gorgeous hills to beautiful weather, this season is a great one to get outdoors and get moving.

I’m a far cry from an outdoorsman. I’m not physically fit. And I don’t particularly like to get dirty.

But I’ve lived in these parts long enough to explore some of God’s wonders and enjoy them.

And that means, if I can, you can too.

Hit the streets. Downtown Natchez is a wonderful place for a stroll. The architecture and oddities are enough to keep you looking and not thinking about the extra strides. I’ve walked the streets of downtown for four years now and I continually find new spots to explore.

Walk north on Union Street and north on Rankin. Cross over Washington and make sure you hit the bluffs.

The best walk is straight up the bluff’s sidewalk, headed north. Cross over Learned Mill Road and keep going. It’s fun to dream about living in one of the houses overlooking the river and neat to see the bridge from a different angle.

Then, after you get yourself in better physical shape, step up to the challenge and head down Roth Hill Road.

Down is fun. Up is more fun.

A few dozen quick trips up the hill you’ll be trained to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Just ask Natchez resident Bill Passman who used Roth Hill to train for his mountain climb a few years ago.

Rough it. If the city streets are more concrete than you’d like, hop in your car and head to Woodville. Take Mississippi 24 to Pond Road and you’ll end up at Clark Creek Natural Area. Make sure you’ve got water packed and good shoes on, then hit the woods.

The hiking trails aren’t easy. The area is more than 700 acres of hills, rocks and water.

But your trek is worth it when you spot one of the area’s approximately 50 waterfalls.

Most of those falls take true hikers to find — you’ll have to follow the primitive trail — but a handful of them are easier to get to for us amateurs.

Some falls are 30-foot drops, others are three feet. All are worth the work.

And remember the goal here — fitness. Spend a day hiking at Clark Creek and you will have burned of some of your holiday calories without even realizing it.

Take another trip the next week and the pounds will likely start coming off.

The state park provides plenty of space to explore, and it will take more than one trip to see it all. All they ask of you is a $3 donation in the “honor box” out front.

Winter is a good time to explore, because the creek is low and the temperatures just right. You’ll exert enough energy to fight the cold just fine.

Get some wheels. If you think bikes are for kids, you are missing out on one of the area’s best outdoor experiences.

Find yourself a bike and head to the Natchez Trace. Ride for a while. The trace provides smooth sailing or longer, more strenuous rides, depending on your preference.

Layer against the wind and pick your spot. The view will be enough to keep your mind off the calories.

Our area offers many more outdoor experiences, we just need to enjoy them.

So, don’t resolve to break your resolution from the start. Just decide to take in the beauty around you and lose some weight in the process.

Julie Finley is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or