Delta National Forest Overview

Delta National Forest enjoys the distinction of being the only bottomland hardwood forest in the national system. It is located in the Mississippi floodplain just north of Vicksburg.

This area—a wide wetland habitat fed by the overflowing Mississippi River—has been called the cradle of North American cultural development due to the role its abundant natural resources played in supporting an extensive prehistoric Indian population. At one time, it was a vast and unbroken reach of hardwood forest choking with plant, animal, and fish life. It was also subject to regular floods that have continued, although modern levee systems now largely keep them in check.

Due to changes in the surrounding lands and the subsequent desire to protect this unique example of a deltaic floodplain ecosystem, Delta National Forest is heavily managed. The North American Waterfowl Management Plan is helping to restore and control waterfowl populations; the Green Ash, Sweetgum, and Overcup Research Natural Areas shelter groves of large old trees from timbering, and wildlife management areas help keep a tab on the forest's plentiful native species. One thing is certain: This is a forest that still feels like a forest.

Scan the Waterfowl Flyway
Delta National Forest lies entirely within the Mississippi Waterfowl Flyway and is a fantastic perch for spying on migratory birds, but especially ducks and other water lovers. Delta's flooded bottomland hardwoods are perfect duck habitat, and populations of waterfowl are on the rise due to the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and other factors, so your chances are better than ever for spotting birds.

Spy on Wetland Wildlife
The lands of the Delta are a complex blend of perpetually flooded forest, seasonal wetlands, and dry forest. Taking advantage of these diverse habitats are white-tailed deer, turkeys, otters, bobcats, alligators, and cottonmouth snakes. For the best wildlife viewing, take to the trails or pause by the sides of park roads. If you have a canoe, float down sections of the Big Sunflower and Little Sunflower Rivers or any of a number of bayous and cutoffs. Bring your binoculars, sit back, and enjoy the show.

Tackle Backcountry Trails
There are over 50 miles of trails open to backcountry fans. Twenty of these are designated for use by ATVs and lead to hunting areas. These trails are also open to horses and mountain bikes. Try the Dowling Bayou Trail for an easy trip along the edge of the Dowling Bayou Greentree Reservoir, or the Mud Lake Trail for a dip into sometimes-flooded wetlands. In many cases, hikers will have to share the trail for a while, but most reservoirs have sections for foot traffic only, like the Sunflower Greentree Reservoir.

Duck Hunt in a Flooded Forest
Greentree Reservoirs are the bottomland hardwoods where Mississippi's nuttall and overcup oaks thrive and provide cover for migrating, wintering, and resident waterfowl, including mallards and wood ducks. Five reservoirs in all cover more than 6,400 acres, all maintained by large pumps pulling from the Big and Little Sunflower Rivers. Translation: This is prime duck-hunting country. Game hunters can also await squirrel, deer, rabbit, turkey, feral hog, and coyote in season.

Fish a Slough
White perch is the forest catch. Blue, Barge, Lost, and Fish Lakes, and a whole host of sloughs (control water areas) have excellent fishing. Most of these lakes can be accessed by canoe or small boat, and the larger rivers have boat ramps.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 9 Aug 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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