By Kara Kimbrough

LeFleur’s Bluff State Park, located just minutes from Interstate 55 in Jackson, offers beautiful wooded areas in which to hike and enjoy some peace and quiet in a convenient location.

The City of Jackson is filled with many wonderful historic attractions, including my favorite, the beautiful Old Capitol Museum. But sometimes, the need for a little R & R that doesn’t involve walking around a multi-storied museum arises. When visiting the Capitol City, I have just the place to literally get away from it all. Unbelievably, this place is near the hustle and bustle of the city, but still manages to provide a peaceful, quiet environment, along with wide open spaces. I’m referring to LeFleur’s Bluff State Park, a well-kept secret located just off Lakeland Drive and Interstate 55.

LeFleur’s Bluff is the perfect place to decompress when driving to the far corners of the state for a quiet campground doesn’t sound appealing. The park is named for Louis LeFleur, a French-Canadian explorer who established a trading post on the banks of the Pearl River in the late 1700s.      The City of Jackson was originally known as LeFleur’s Bluff, but eventually changed its name. However, the park kept its name, paying homage to the explorer and serving as a refuge for residents and visitors.

LeFleur’s Bluff offers hiking on one of the nature trails, fishing on beautiful Mayes Lake or playing a few rounds of golf on the 9-hole course. Opportunities for picnicking, camping and bird-watching also abound in this lush oasis in the midst of busy highways and buildings. Named to several “best of” U.S. state park lists for its above-average amenities, LeFleur’s provides a tranquil green spot to decompress away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

LeFleur’s Bluff State Park is actually comprised of two areas. Mayes Lake campground and day use area includes a picnic area and RV campground. The golf course and driving range are located nearby.

Those interesting in camping can choose from among 28 sites available for tent and RV camping. Ten shaded primitive tent sites located near the lake and within walking distance to water and showers are available. A spacious, shaded picnic area features tables and grills overlooking a large playground.  The park also has seven picnic pavilions available for reservation.

The next time a desire to get back to nature occurs, drop in to LeFleur’s Bluff. And who knows…after relaxing for awhile, you may just feel up to touring my favorite spot at the end of Capitol Street.

All this talk about history caused me to look up some recipes sent to me by Melba Darras, who were many years lived with her husband, Tommie, in the Governor’s Mansion, serving as hostess and chef, respectively, for more than one governor. The Darras’ compiled a cookbook containing some of their favorite recipes from the years they helped entertain guests from around the world. Here’s one of my favorites, named appropriately enough, Mississippi Cookies.

Mississippi Cookies
Melba’s Note: We served Mississippi Cookies to everyone including then-Today Show host Jane Pauley who received a box full presented by Gov. Allain when the show filmed in Mississippi.
1/2 cup shortening (half butter)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla and a dash of salt
1- 1/3 cups of flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon milk

Combine shortening, butter, sugar, salt, vanilla and eggs. Add sifted dry ingredients. Chill. Roll as thin as possible. Use any cookie cutter you choose. (The customized Mississippi cookie cutter can sometimes be found at gourmet and culinary shops in the state). Bake on a sprayed cookie sheet for 7-10 minutes at 350¡. Makes 3-4 dozen.

Recipe from “A Taste of History.”

If You Go:

LeFleur’s Bluff State Park
Where: 3315 Lakeland Terrace, Jackson
Contact: 601-987-3923