Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Reserve
Created in 1980, this reserve encompasses 36,000 acres of the Pearl River Basin northeast of Slidell. It extends through portions of Mississippi and Louisiana. Bogue Chitto means "large stream," as described by the Choctaw people. This beautiful southern swampland is one of the least disturbed in the country. Along with canoeing, other allowed public uses include hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, birding and photography. Canoeing is on a branch of the Pearl River, and the river stage can affect conditions. Check ahead to be sure the reserve is open for paddling. Going upstream can be a workout at times in narrow areas. At other times, you may have to drag over a sandbar. The reserve is a bottomland hardwood forest consisting of sloughs and bayous, and maintenance of the habitat relies on receiving varying degrees of inundation during the growing season. A variety of woody plant species occur in these periodically flooded areas. Commonly recognized habitats include bald cypress and water tupelo trees, with live oak and pine forests on the higher ground. Endangered or threatened species you may see including the ringed-sawback turtle, American alligator, gopher tortoise, inflated heel-splitter mussel and the Gulf sturgeon. The swallow-tailed kite is a species of special concern on preserve. Bald eagles visit the refuge each year. To get to the preserve from the Louisiana side, take I-59 to Pearl River Turnaround Exit 11; heading east from this exit takes you to a fishing area, turning west will take you toward the Holmes Bayou Trail; the refuge can also be accessed from Locks 1, 2, and 3 by taking Highway 41 north of Slidell. From the Mississippi side, take I-59 north to Picayune, Miss.; take Highway 43 to Walkiah Bluff Water Park or to Dumas Wise Road to access the Refuge. For more information see Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge or call 985-882-2000.