Mississippi offers several beautiful campgrounds within an easy drive of Baton Rouge.

South Mississippi 

All of my tent camping experience in Mississippi has been in the southern part of the state. It’s a reasonably short drive from my home in Baton Rouge.

Clear Springs Campground in Homochitto Forest

Clear Springs in Homochitto Forest 

Canoing at Clear SpringsClear Springs campground is a hidden gem. Forest camping is terrific here surrounding this beautiful reservoir and facilities constructed during the Works Progress Administration. Paddling in the small lake is fun and sheltered; while the 3-mile hiking trail around the lake gives you a workout. Clear Springs is situated in the middle of the Homochitto National Forest, so night skies here are dark on moonless nights. The stars sparkle so I try to bring a telescope and reserve a campsite close to the lake. This is also advantageous for launching my canoe. But even if I’m not successful in securing a lakefront site, I simply carry my telescope down to the picnic table closest to the lakeshore where a majority of the southern sky is open to view. Tall pines block the northern sky here, so viewing that area would require repositioning to a different area around the lake. The park has clean facilities with hot showers.
Clear Springs album March 2018

Clear Springs album2

Janice Landing on Black Creek, in the Desoto Forest 

I camped alone here for one night, in pursuit of finding another dark sky site. The free (as in absolutely no fees) campground is quite sparse, offering cold potable water at a spigot but only pit toilets. I was the only overnight camper in the park the night I was there which felt a bit odd as it is immediately adjacent to the highway and locals(?) would periodically pull in and drive around the campgrounds loop drive. The main attraction here is for paddlesports enthusiasts on Black Creek, and there were a few parked cars at the launch where kayakers eventually exited the creek, packed their gear, and went home. Janice Landing campgroundThat hight the skies were indeed dark on the moonless night, but the forest canopy was pretty thick. There was a clearing in the middle of the campground loop road, but the canopy of the tall trees don’t allow you views to the horizon. I had to keep moving my telescope around to view different parts of the sky.
Janice Landing photo album

Buccaneer Park near Pass Christian 

During a visit to the Gulf beaches while in graduate school at LSU I spent the night at Buccaneer State Park. This was years before Katrina so the tree canopy I recall no longer exists. Since the main point of my trip was beach time down the road in Gulfport or Biloxi, I didn’t spend much time at Buccaneer, took no photos (this was before cell phones), and have limited memory of it. I know that the park has been rebuilt after Katrina so perhaps it is again time for another visit.

Deer Island off Biloxi 

I finally got to combine two of my hobbies - camping and kayaking! After completing my home-built recreational kayak I have wanted to go on an overnight paddle, forcing me to pack everything I needed into my boat. I waited out the long, hot summer and undertook this journey in late September. This being my first time on such a trip, a forgiving and short distance was appropriate. I parked at the Kuhn St. boat ramp (not recommended*) in Biloxi and paddled across the channel to the west end of Deer Island. Though skies were nearly cloudless, an east wind had kicked up so there were whitecaps on the water. My kayak cut through it with ease despite being loaded with gear, and I made it to the island in about 20 minutes. I decided to haulover at the spit of sand at the west end rather than paddling considerably further west around the rock jetty protecting the harbor channel.

Once in the Mississippi Sound I paddled further east, beyond the beach area where daytrip boaters were enjoying their afternoon, continuing towards the middle of the island. I discovered that a significant portion of the island is lined with dredge-filled fabric tubes as a shoreline protection. I also discovered that a buildup of marine slime made these slippery to walk on. Normally I would have continued paddling beyond this shoreline protection to the middle of the island and closer (but not under) the pine trees. I was already tired from the day, there were no other persons within sight, and I was ready to set up camp and eat, so I stopped just west of the dredge tube. One advantage to setting your campsite further east near the middle or west end of the island is that you would be further offshore from Biloxi and buffered by the pine trees, thus it may be quieter overnight. On this particular Saturday night, traffic noise died down around 1:00 am and the second of two freight trains went through Ocean Springs / Biloxi around that time also. My tent, a long sleeve shirt and Deep Woods Off protected me from mosquitoes, so I was okay for the night.

Birdwatching, sunset and sunrise were the best parts of the trip, along with the exercise of paddling. My stay was uneventful and I did notice another campsite far at the east end. These folks likely arrived by motor boat at the dock constructed on the north side of the island and they hauled their gear across on the trail to the south side. The photos below capture the essence of my trip.

Deer Island Resources by others 

  • The Kuhne St. boat ramp is not recommended by me for Deer Island camping excursions because there is one sign posted prohibiting overnight parking at the ramp. This sign was blocked from my view by other vehicles during my visit so I parked overnight based on recommendations of other bloggers. Evidently the approved location to park is just west at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor. Fortunately, my vehicle was not towed and I received no ticket.