June 20, 2012

Mississippi Coastal Heritage Trail

MCHT Trail Overview

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The Mississippi Coastal Heritage Trail (MCHT) is the signature project of the Gulf Coast Heritage Trails Partnership. Also referred to as the “border to border” trail, this 101 mile long trail is the epitome of connecting the Coast, one trail at a time. It serves every single one of our goals and embodies our vision exactly. Much of the main trail has already been approved through the acceptance of the Harrison County Sand Beach Master Plan. We are in the process of requesting formal support in the form of letters and resolutions from our Local Representatives as well as our State Representatives and Senators, several of which were extremely receptive when we spoke to them at the National Bike Summit in Washington D.C. this past March.  The Mississippi Coastal Heritage Trail also has the distinct honor of being selected as one of only two America’s Great Outdoors projects in the entire state of Mississippi.

The proposed route begins at Infinity Science Center in Hancock County, the newly commissioned Possum Walk Trail is available to our hiking and mountain bike partners. From there, the trail travels through Waveland & Bay St. Louis by way of their Historical Routes and Scenic Byways. It traverses the Bay Bridge into Harrison County – Pass Christian, Long Beach, Gulfport, and Biloxi – where you may chose to take advantage of the many educational and entertaining opportunities along the route or just ride straight through – safely, securely – on a well lit and maintained route. There are comfort stations and playgrounds available for your convenience along the trail as well. Jackson County is connected via the Ocean Springs Bridge where the trail meanders through Ocean Springs, tying in to the Gulf Islands National Seashore’s Davis Bayou Area as well as the Marine Education Center at the Gulf Coast Research Lab. The Gautier Loop encircles Shepard State Park and a portion of the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge offering a nature-rich experience. Pascagoula’s recently dedicated Historical Trail has much to offer as does the leg through Moss Point to the MCHT’s Eastern anchor – the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Research has shown that even light exercise can serve to reduce several risk factors contributing to heart disease, stroke, atherosclerosis, diabetes, and improve overall physical as well as mental health. The MCHT gives our communities a place to exercise that is convenient to their homes and businesses.  It also offers exercise and educational opportunities for those with disabilities or working to rehabilitate from injury. It offers our children a place to play, a place to explore, a place to grow outdoors. It offers a venue to appreciate and learn about the beautiful things growing around us. It provides access along the way to many trails throughout the Mississippi Gulf Coast – trails for paddling, hiking, off-road activities such as cross-country running & mountain bike trails, ATV & Dirt Bike trails, Equestrian trails to name a few. There are many campgrounds along the way encouraging distance and endurance activities or fun family adventures.  The MCHT has something to offer people of all ages and from all walks of life. With an easily accessible and safe place to exercise, locals and tourists alike can take active control of their health status.

Research has also demonstrated that communities choosing to take the time and effort to encourage bike & pedestrian friendly spaces have seen dramatic increases in their economic profiles.  Monies saved by families and individuals due to reduced use of gasoline translate into more dollars spent supporting local businesses.  People traveling along the MCHT will have easy access to local businesses when they need food and supplies for their journey.  This trail gives locals the opportunity to become tourists in their own towns, discovering parts of their communities they didn’t know existed and allowing them to more readily explore the communities adjoining their own.  Additionally, tourists visiting the area will be encouraged to spend more time in the area or return for multiple visits as they rise to the challenge of traversing the trail from one end to the other.  Hotels and Bed & Breakfasts alike stand to benefit as do restaurants, shops, and recreation establishments all along the MCHT.

Please take a moment to sign our petition and show your support for this much needed service to our community.
Thank you so much!

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