Hidden Gem in Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Oct 26, 2022 | 0 comments

Smiling woman with curly silver hair and glasses.
Phyllis Dufrene,
MS Guide

I recently discovered a hidden gem right in my area! The Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge Fontainebleau Nature Trail. While I know that name is a mouthful, I hope that you’ll agree that it is so worth a visit!

New Trail

I’ve lived in the Mississippi gulf coast area for almost four years, and just discovered this trail at the beginning of October, the first Saturday, to be precise.

I have been searching for something to do outdoors while the weather is so nice and consequently found an advertisement for this hike! I decided to sign up and invited some friends to come along. Several people of all ages attended the October hike along with our group of four. 

Guided Hike

The Coast Audubon Society and the Sandhill Crane refuge have been hosting a “naturalist-led” hike on the first Saturday of each month, year-round. We were told by our guide that each month is a discovery as the seasons change.

Unfortunately, the parking lot was a bit of a mess during a remodeling project. We were, however, impressed by how nicely the trails were maintained and by their program to monitor plants and trees to assess growth and disease.

This is rated as an “easy” trail

The trail is about 1.6 miles in length, with minimal elevation. It is rated as an easy trail by All Trails, but I’d say because of some of the uneven pathways, it’s not accessible for all. The website states that the first 300 feet are wheelchair accessible.

A close-up of a carnivorous plant called a Pitcher Plant
Pitcher Plant on the trail.

The tour took us around 2 hours because of the stops for education with the tour guide. He was very knowledgeable and taught us a lot about indigenous plants, bushes, old-growth trees, insects, and animals.

Carnivorous Plants!

This trail as well as the trails within the main Sandhill Crane refuge have a large population of carnivorous plants, making this hike even more interesting.

We saw many species of early fall flowers and plants, including sassafras and Beauty Berry. We also heard several bird calls, identified by our guide as mockingbirds, and even spotted a rare hummingbird for this time of year.

What a great guided hike for you and your loved ones!

All in all, I would give this trail a 9 out of 10 for the interest level, easy trails, and wonderfully knowledgeable guide. It’s great for kids of all ages!

As much as I loved this hike, the only downfall for me is the parking lot which wasn’t marked very well on the main road, and a crowded lot for large groups at these events. It was tight, but hopefully, with the upcoming improvements, this will be better in the future. If you decide to go in a small group, on other days this should be a non-issue.

I certainly hope that this review has helped you decide to try out this trail, whether guided or not, the beautiful scenery is well worth it.

Here is a great write up by Only In Your State:

Cya on the trail, girl campers!


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Phyllis Dufrene


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