Outdoor adventures await USM students

This is the time of year in Mississippi when it is finally enjoyable to spend large amounts of time outdoors, and not solely at the pool. The trees are changing colors, the temperature is dropping and the climate is significantly better for hiking and other outdoor activities.

Here in the Hub City, the change in temperature is noticeable and welcome. Many students are aware of the things to do in the city of Hattiesburg, but may not be as knowledgeable of the outdoor activities that are there for the doing just outside the city limits. However, Hattiesburg is absolutely surrounded by enjoyable outdoor recreational areas.

To help students who might want to take advantage of this seasonable change, The Student Printz has asked a number of students here at The University of Southern Mississippi what their favorite outdoor places are. Several names came up, but the three that were heard repeatedly were Paul B. Johnson State Park, the Okatoma Creek and Red Bluff.

The Okatoma Creek is actually a part of the Bouie River but a great place to go whether in the heat of the summer or the relative cool of the fall. Located a mere 20 minutes from Hattiesburg, it offers great kayaking, canoeing and some swimming beaches.

“I really enjoy being on the Okatoma (Creek),” said junior international business major David Jordan. “I was just there last month for a kayaking trip, and it was a blast. I would highly recommend kayaking on the Okatoma (Creek) to anyone who wanted to get outdoors this fall. It is great for any skill level and is a great way to relax on a weekend.”

If one is more inclined to stay on dry land, Red Bluff is the place to be. Situated about an hour away from Hattiesburg and sometimes called Mississippi’s Little Grand Canyon, Red Bluff is a bluff created by erosion over a period of a couple hundred years. Composed of a combination of red clay, sand and a combination of other sediments which mix together to make a beautiful view, Red Bluff is particularly great for an early morning sunrise.

“Red Bluff is a (fantastic), beautiful place to explore. I have been several times and hiked all the way down and around the entire cliff,” said junior marketing major David Walker. “The best time to go is during the fall or spring and watch the sunrise.”

Finally, Paul B. Johnson State Park is a great place to go on a laid back weekend afternoon or evening only a scant 15 minute drive from Hattiesburg. It has a lake for rental boats, trails for running, hiking and biking and a plethora of tables for picnics or grill outs.

“I recently went to Paul B. Johnson Lake and had a wonderful time. We took boat rides on the lake and ate lunch under one of the pavilions, and the whole atmosphere was very relaxing,” sophomore English major Christina Vehos said. “I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a place to enjoy nature and spend time with friends.”

With fall rapidly coming into view, it is great to have many options for outdoor activities in southern Mississippi.