DeSoto National Forest
Park Overview
The De Soto is characterized by gently rolling terrain covered by southern pine ridges and hardwood bottoms with clear, tea-colored streams meandering throughout the forest.

At 378,538 acres, the De Soto Ranger District is the largest district in Mississippi and is within easy driving distance of the coastal areas and Hattiesburg. Year-round recreation opportunities abound for the hiker, bicyclist, camper, canoeist, ATV rider, horse enthusiast, hunter and fisherman. Vast expanses of national forest lands are perfect settings for bird watching and rejuvenating the spirit. There are picnic facilities, group shelters, and scenic surroundings for church socials, organizational events, and family reunions.

Visitors who seek solitude will be able to find it within one of the De Soto's two wilderness areas, the Black Creek or Leaf. Black Creek, Mississippi's only National Scenic River, is famous for its wide, white sandbars and relaxed floating pace. 170 miles of trails on the De Soto are available for hikers, ATV riders, mountain bike riders, and horse riders. Black Creek Trail and the Tuxachanie Trail, two National Recreation Trails located on the De Soto Ranger District, offer over 60 miles for hikers to explore the piney woods. Other trails on the De Soto include Bethel and Rattlesnake Bay ATV trails, Big Foot horse trail, Leaf hiking trail, and Bethel bicycle trail.

The nature observer may delight in experiencing the varied ecosystems found on the De Soto, from dry, sandy longleaf pine/scrub oak ridges to frequently flooded tupelo/bald cypress swamps, and from the steep upland hardwood forest of Ragland Hills to the vast pitcher plant savanna at Buttercup Flats.

Reviews (21)Write A Review
Very Good
Just OK
August 2, by xiphkallman
I hiked the Black Creek Trail on 7/31/2010. In many areas it was totally overgrown by tall weed, 5 feet + high. Most annoying were the thousands of long thorny blackberry (?) canes that tore on my arms and clothing. From the parking area near Janice Landing I followed the old wood road and tried to locate the spot where the trail proper crosses to follow the river. I was not successful. I saw no white markers on trees. Further on along the wood road I came to the second trail crossing -marked by white blazes- where the trail crosses and enters the uplands. Here the hight of the weeds were not as bad and the trail was not as wet and swampy as often is the case. On the way back I followed the trail along the river. Eventually I had to turn back to the wood road, because a deep wash was difficult to ford. When I hiked here in the middle of May, some trees had fallen over which I used as a crossing. I found a densely shaded area overlooking a bend in the river and enjoyed a nice lunch on this rather hot day.
February 24, by crazy:)piefan
my favrit park EVER
butiful forist areas the paths are gorgeous i would recomend it to anyone
March 22, by Gina
Big Foot Horse Trails
Great riding in South Mississippi. Well maintained and a wonderful area. The hunters make it very dangerous during hunting season. Please ban hunting in the recreational area for riding, hiking and camping. Just a small portion of the whole area and hunters can have the rest. Thank you.
March 23, by Charles
This Park Needs Some TLC !!
Where is the pride in stewardship ? The roads need work, no bathrooms ..(Bushes ?) the one outhouse is terriable,no running water..
June 6
I am so disappointed in the ratings that this National Forest has been given. I was looking for a half way point from Ohio and Texas and thought this would be a great place. We just wanted a quiet place for family to meet up. I guess I will continue my search.
April 4, by BradinFairhope
Beware of Rogue NF Enforcement Officer!
Our group just had a horrible experience with a ranger at the Big Biloxi campground. Officer A. Bolton came into the park on Saturday evening and systematically swept throught the park looking through vehicles and tents and making all campers open their coolers looking for alcohol. Anyone caught with alcohol was made to pour it out and was given a $125 ticket. We were all treated like common criminals, and I have never seen such a look of hatred coming from a law enforcement officer before. Extremely unprofessional and abusive - even though we were extremely polite and cooperative. I will never step foot in Desoto National Forest again unless they do something about this guy. We wondered why this great-looking park was almost empty on a beautiful spring weekend. The camp host confirmed that the guy is a menace and will ticket campers for the most minor offenses - such as parking a car or staking a tent the least bit off the designated areas.
June 8, by ispellgood:)
my favorite park EVER
Beautiful forrest areas, the paths are gorgeous, I would recommend it to anyone.
December 10, by Desoto Devils
WARNING: Ranger on patrol!
Be careful in DeSoto NF! There is an overzealous Ranger on patrol. If you accidentally drive down the wrong dirt road, there is a $275 fine!!! This ranger is rude, unprofessional, and would ticket his own grandmother. Enter DeSoto National Forest at your own risk.
January 1, by Josh Smith
May 19, by Shutterstop
Rein in your rude Park Ranger!
Let me just add to the comments here about Officer A. Bolton. I was recently scouting some locations near the bike trails for an upcoming photography shoot, when a Park Ranger Law Enforcement vehicle drove by, then rapidly turned around and stopped near my truck. The Park Ranger introduced himself and then asked what was the purpose of my visit to the National Forest...His demeanor and tone was demanding and investigative in nature. I simply told him I was looking around and enjoying the great outdoors. Finding no satisfaction in my answer he asked if he could search my truck. I asked him why and replied he could with a valid search warrant or suspection of a crime. He then got aggresive in his tone and starting reeling off a bunch of BS about implied consent, and threatened my detention or arrest. I asked if he was finished and that I was leaving, and if he felt that it was necessary to detain me he better go ahead and do that. I got into my vehicle and told him that this incident will be reported to the National Forest Admin. I also informed him of my law enforcement background and my rights as a citizen. I wished him a good day, rolled up my window and drove off. By looking at this forum I can see that Officer Bolton has made quite an impression on the owners of Desoto National Forest, that would be the American public and also the same people who write his paycheck.
June 1, by Darryl Pry
Over zealous ranger
Sat. May 28th I was in violation of the law. I was drinking a beer in the Janice Landing National Forest Rec. Area. Two cars and three rangers decended on myself and the other two people in the campsite. We were sitting in the dark being very quiet, after all we are all senior citizens, enjoying a cold beer to celebrate my birthday. They went through our ice chests and made us dump out the beer. Yes I was in violation, but given the circumstances I think a stern warning and a good butt chewing would have been more than enough. The $125.00 ticket stings but not nearly as much as my being so stupid as to not at least disguise the container. The violation notice is barly readable but the officers initials are E. J. B with the rest of the name not readable. I think the Officers number is 1960.
February 8, by JV
Not making the drive
I was planning a weekend trip, not anymore. Thanks for the heads up regarding the Park Rangers.
February 11, by nick81283
fun family place
ive been to desoto national forest many times in the last 2 years. i really like the Airey lake spot in Stone county. there are multiple freshwater wells and restrooms. plenty of primitive campsites. the trails always are kept free of debris. never have had any problems with the rangers, but have only seen them one time. ive been around 100 times to Desoto. the driving trails are pretty good. i like off roading and the roads a graded well. there are plenty different trails to keep you busy all day and multiple days. they also have ATV and horse trails.
June 19, by Lesley
Heads Up
Even though I am not thinking about breaking the parks rules, but I am very glad that reviews are made of places. I was thinking about spending my 1st wedding anniversary here and so happy that I checked this place out because running into Ranger Bolton would surely destroy my anniversary thanks guys.
February 17, by [email protected]
best park ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
July 24
was going to stop there
but i dont want to be hassled by this bolten ranger guy...its his kind that i am trying to get a break from by visiting the forest! how could you relax knowing someone like him could show up and harass you at any minute?
May 20, by WAYNE
March 29, by Harry Whitehouse
Glad I read this
We are a pair of English seniors, who were looking for somewhere peaceful to visit on a drive from New Orleans to Monroeville in May. Thank goodness for good old US freedom of speech, we found these comments and know we should give this park a miss - the fear of a $125 fine for unknowingly breaking part regulations, and aggression from the rangers, would really spoil our trip. Is there a reason why it is against the law to have a civilised glass of wine with a picnic?
September 4
Love the national forest
I live next to the forest, go horse back riding around my home and at Big Foot riding trails OFTEN. Yes the rangers are out and about, but they have NEVER given me or my friends a second look. As long as your not breaking the law then you have nothing to worry about!!! (If your in the Stone County part of the forest it is a dry county so HIDE you beer or pour it in a cup then no worries)
October 29, by bounder cowboy
wonderful park
The wife and I spent a week in this park in the summer of 2012. The park host and his wife were wonderful and helpful to us. we did not have any problems that i see someone else claimed that they had. yes there was leo in the park once in a while but only to check to see if the park was fine. the park was also exceptionaly clean as well as the showers. we intend on returning in the summer of 2013 for another stay. I feel it would be safe to say that if anyone has had problems in this park in the past, they brought it on themselves by not following the rules of the park.
April 5, by Bothered to Check
Do your Research
The banning of Alcohol is normally found in local alert messages, not in the federal regulations- check each and every park you want to visit carefully
Nearby Parks
91 km away.
95 km away.
141 km away.
161 km away.