Once we got the go ahead to park at the trail head we made the short hop to Sumrall, Mississippi so we could ride the remainder of the 41 mile long Longleaf Trace that we first found in 2014. That time we parked at Bassfield and rode the Sumrall-Prentiss section.
Herlon Pierce is the gentleman from the Longleaf Trace who OKed us parking in Sumrall at the trail. He has a trail head named after him! How cool is that?
This is a really great trail, one of the best we have been on. They have lots of amenities and comfy little rest stops all along the way. The section between Hattiesburg and Sumrall is especially well appointed. One aspect we hadn’t seen before is the identifying signs of the trees along the trail.
There were many varieties including:
- Southern red oak
- Longleaf Pine
- Tung tree
- Tulip Poplar
- Post oak
- Water oak
- Eastern red cedar
- Eastern Dogwood
- Flowering Dogwood
- Wax myrtle
- Chnese Tallow tree Loblolly pine
- Poison Ivy (Yes! They marked it.)
- Shortleaf pine
- Groundsel tree
- Southern magnolia
- Chinese privet
- Willow Oak
- Cat greenbriar
- American Holly
- Swamp Cyrilla “Tuti”
- Black cherry
- White oak
- Cherry oak
There were probably more that I forgot. When I passed a sign I could ride until I had gotten about ten in my head, then I had to stop and put in my note before I forgot. I had never heard of several of them and Sparkleberry was my favorite.
We rode to Hattiesburg and back the first day, about 30 miles. The flag above the trail was a first. I don’t know James Moore’s role in the Trace but we appreciate his effort toward a top notch experience.
Some scenes along the trail.
We got misted on a little bit but no serious rain.
One of the rest stops. Even bridges got “adopted.”
The next day we rode in the other direction toward Bassfield. When we rode that section before we came upon an exotic animal farm and wanted to see if it was still there. We saw some of the llamas up in another pasture but no prehistoric birds. Glad we saw them before.
We also witnessed a beautiful incident. In a pasture by the trail were three magnificent horses. One was a very large draft horse. The others were smaller by not by much. I was going to try to get a picture when a truck pulled into the upper pasture and they started off at a trot toward the truck. It quickly escalated into a full gallop. As the driver went back to shut the gate, he waved his arms at the approaching horses. The others turned back but one of them, a beautifully proportioned tan and white beauty with a long mane, managed to slip past him and galloped into the adjoining field. We stopped to watch as he pranced and cavorted with his head high for a good ten minutes before allowing himself to be corralled. It looked like this has happened before. No pictures, you had to be there.
On the way back we stopped at this sign and decided to get some eggs.
We headed down this drive and entered a whole other world, the world of Major Woodworking. There were chickens and kitties and piles of wood carefully covered.
He makes custom counter tops and flooring and when a big tree goes down, they know who to call, Major. He and his helpers Jimmy and Scott uncovered something that he said would be worth taking a picture of.
These red oak planks are about 10 feet long, four feet wide and four or five inches thick. There were other piles he didn’t uncover; he had about a dozen planks this size. He showed us a picture in his phone of the tree before they milled it and was going to email it to me. It was a monster.
Oreo guarding the planks once they’re covered back up.
These two cuties posed willingly.
Mom, not so much. We like those orange tabby females.
Scott and his 2002 Vette. He’s pretty proud of it and rightly so.
Major took his time and we talked for quite a while. He went to the trouble to explain his work and we gained a real appreciation for his skill. We asked about the chickens and the local wildlife. He even cut us a piece of sugar cane.
As with most property owners along a rails-to-trails project, when first confronted with the idea, they are against it. As Major said, waving his hand toward the trail, “That’s our front yard.” They planted screening and it has grown up well but he may clear it out again. We said we hoped he and his neighbors have found that bicyclists are peaceful people. It took a while, he said, but he came around and now he gives us a look into his world and sells us eggs. We ended up with two dozen and they are delicious.
It was the best and most affirming experience of the day.