Mississippi is amazing. Today’s plan was not quite to Hattiesburg, but at Prentiss (not quite 50 miles in) the directions took me onto the most beautifully paved trail I’ve ever encountered, and with the most amazing weather. It’s called Longleaf Trace, and it goes roughly 42 miles, ending in Hattiesburg.
But before I get to that, a quick pit stop had one of my favorite human encounters – I stopped at a gas station to use the restroom, and when I walked in one of the guys at the register said, “GIRL! HOW FAR YOU GOING? I’VE BEEN LEAPFROGGING YOU SINCE LUCIEN!” He is a UPS driver. I told him Hattiesburg, and he squinted at me and said, “Don’t tell my supervisor. He’ll put me on a bike and make me take a bigger route!”
Anyway, Longleaf Trace. A few years back someone came up with the concept of turning old, unused railway lines into trails for people to use. I have not been on these trails prior, at least not that I know of. But here I was on this trail, and not only is most of it super flat, it’s shaded by mature trees and not heavily populated – at least not this afternoon. I told Randy when I finished that when I talked to the architects of the Matrix when I planned this thing and told them what I had in mind, this was it. Sometime in the last two years somebody finally got the memo, and my dream ride came true. Seriously, it was like a reward for having come almost 3,000 miles on some of the craziest roads, climbs, and terror I could imagine. There are clean restrooms about every 10 miles, amazing wildlife – blue herons, eagles, hawks, rabbits, opossum, skunks, raccoons, and even a deer crossed my path – but most of all I enjoyed the lilting relative “rest” of the fully paved path that went just barely up and then just barely down, and the shade. For more information on these trails, click here: Rails to Trails
Randy waited at one of the parks along the way, and I figured I could get 10 more or so miles in before calling it a day. It was a perfect 82 miles (70 planned), and we headed to our Airbnb ready to relax for the weekend.