My family is at best mediocre hikers, but we do partake when we travel to visit family in North Carolina. With no trips planned and lots of time on my hands, I began looking into day trips we could take to get us out of the house. I stumbled upon pictures of a place referred to as Red Bluff Mississippi, and I couldn’t believe this place really existed only a little over an hour away! I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, but that’s immediately what I thought of. Red Bluff, as the locals call it, is a canyon formed from the erosion of the west bank of the Pearl River. Hwy 587 in Foxworth, Mississippi has been rerouted twice because pieces of the road have eroded into the canyon. While researching the location, I quickly realized that this wasn’t a place I could simply type into my GPS, and considering I use Waze on a daily basis, this part gave me the most trepidation. Not knowing what to expect, I decided my first time heading there would be only me and my husband.
Away we go!
We typed in Hwy 587 Foxworth Mississippi to start off. The drive was pretty easy, and I didn’t get nervous until the very end, in which the GPS couldn’t tell me where to turn and we had to actually look at the map part! Once we started on HWY 587, we traveled 10 miles north of HWY 98 at Columbia. At one point, Hwy 587 veers right, but I continued straight on Morgantown Road. I’m thankful I did because it led me to a gas station complete with a clean bathroom and a little diner called Kat’s Grocery. After purchasing some cold waters and using the bathroom for the last time for a while, we headed back the way we came and turned back onto HWY 587. There were several barricades, and we parked next to a few other cars that were there. We grabbed our bag with essentials, like bug spray, sunblock, hand sanitizer, wipes and water, and started walking.
We have arrived!
The first amazing thing we saw was the blacktop road that used to be HWY 587 and its huge missing pieces that had fallen into the canyon. A few feet further up and the sight was breathtaking. Seriously, my breath paused when I saw what looked like purple, red, pink, yellow, and white rock. We were extremely careful when walking, there are NO BARRICADES, and quickly discovered a path to take. Some people were veering off to the right to a flat path in the wooded area, but we continued in the open space around the canyon. Once we got to the other side of the canyon, we took the only visible trail that led us down into the bottom of the gorge. I was wearing hiking shoes and needed to use some tree limbs and roots to lower myself. The hike down was less than a mile but took us down around 300 feet.
We made it to the bottom!
At the bottom, we ran right into railroad tracks with a creek running perpendicular and under the tracks. We crossed the tracks and walked through the wet clay and shallow creek about 1/4 of a mile until we reached Pearl River. There were 4 other people out there total, and we had plenty of space to distance and sit on the sand bar. We cooled off in the shallow water, and when my husband was brave enough to venture out further, he quickly returned because the current was too strong to swim in. After cooling off, we headed back towards the railroad tracks. When we crossed the railroad tracks, we again experienced colored and gray clay and a shallow creek. The creek ended and we were at the base of the canyon. Standing there and looking up is an amazing experience and completely worth the hike! What I thought was a hard colored rock was actually red, purple, and yellow clay, soil, sand, and sediment. We wandered around for hours and climbed in the sand like kids. It was a fantastic day. When we left we were starving! Our sandwiches and nuts were long gone and we wanted to use a clean restroom. We stopped back at Kat’s Grocery. They have home-cooked southern meals like chicken spaghetti and fresh hamburgers. We enjoyed burgers and onion rings and cold drinks on our way home.
Going Back Again and Again
Since our first time there, I have been back 3 times and plan on going again this month. Each time we went, we experienced something different. The last time we went, the tide was so high we couldn’t get to the sand bar and skipped the river entirely. I’ve found out it’s private property and, while the owner allows hiking, he doesn’t have any bathrooms or trashcans out. Anything you bring you must take with you. There are signs of people littering, and it is heartbreaking. We stop at Kat’s every time, except the time we went on a Sunday because unfortunately they are closed on Sundays. This is a short trip that is a great hike with gorgeous views. I have seen people out there with younger kids, but I wouldn’t take my four-year-old, because I don’t think she would realize the danger. When you are at the top there isn’t anything to protect you if you trip, so I say this is good for 8 and older. Bring frozen waters, snacks, bug spray, sunblock, and a charged phone for sure. We even brought a change of shoes and clothes for the drive home (driving even an hour full of sand is not fun)!