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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Old Fort Bayou, Ocean Springs
Juli Day
Out of curiosity and the need to explore, Carol Curren and I headed to Ocean Springs in search of the Old Fort Bayou Blueway TrailL. We knew we in for a great day when we had the pleasure of seeing frozen lobster tails leading into Ocean Springs. We were tempted to stop and gather a few. Oh Well, the water called.

I had heard of the trail, they had a huge grand opening in September, but very little info has been available about the ins and outs of the trail. Unable to locate a map on the web we figured we could get one upon arrival. No such luck with the visitor's center closed due to the holiday. We knew the start of the trail was at Gulf Hills Golf Resort on Paso Rd so we went to the hotel at the resort to get a map and as luck would have it, they were out. But the stop was necessary for all kayakers or canoeists to get permission to access to the launching area. Into the car and around the property to a locked gate, drove down away, hopped the curb and on to the launch. The launch is beautiful with live oaks, and a nice grassy put in and is only available for canoes and kayaks. The locked gate was an issue, we could have called the maintenance guy, but we had already wasted a lot of time looking for a map so we hopped the curb. This needs to be asked about at the hotel when you check in.

We soon discovered that a map is very necessary since we found no signs other than #1. We paddled west toward Biloxi Bay siting several Osprey along the way and found a huge Great Blue Heron rookery along with several Osprey nests at the point of the Old Fort Bayou and the bay. Knowing we would not find the trail in this direction we headed east toward the Ocean Springs bridge. The birding was awesome with a great many Pelicans, Gulls, Comarants, Egrets,(snowy and great), Great Blue Herons, King Fishers, Terns, Killdeer, Ducks, Loons, Black Birds, and more. The area is fantastic, with the grasses and reeds and so many many nooks and crannies to explore. There were some oyster beds which were easy to navigate around . We only saw two motor boats and couple of fishermen.

There were quite a few dead fish so we talked with a local and were told there had been a fish kill due to the freeze, that the fish really froze and people were collecting the fish the morning after the freeze.

All in all this was a great trip, in the three and half hours of exploring and looking for the trail we never found another sign, but we were okay with that. All the more reason to go back.

This is a place worth exploring.