Buccaneer State Park’s best-known feature likely is its Buccaneer Bay Waterpark. But don’t limit your experience of the state park to just the wave pool and camping. There’s also a playground and a disc golf course.
And there’s the 1-mile Pirate’s Alley Nature Trail. The trail starts across the road from the comfort station not far from the park’s entrance. Park in the large lot at the comfort station, spray down with insect repellent and head across the road.
The first thing you’ll see is a fork in the trail. The trail itself is a circle, but that circle has a winding loop within it. Don’t worry about that, though. Everything leads back to the circle. However, I found that following the trail starting from the left was easier than starting from the right (my route the first time).
This is not a demanding walk. The flat, wooded path is often sandy, with occasional tree roots and even stump bottoms, so don’t get too distracted.
I was there in the morning, so birds and crickets greeted me along the way. Something small, likely a squirrel, scurried in the underbrush near the path, and I saw a bird’s nest in a sapling nearby. A mockingbird made sure he was the loudest bird there. I think he truly was following me. A frog called, “Reep! Reep! Reep!” and at one point a rabbit in a small clearing to my right bounded off, its hind legs and fluffy tail waving goodbye.
The north end of the circle traces the edge of tidal marshlands, where a boardwalk leads out to an observation deck complete with covered seating. Spend as much time here as you like, watching herons and egrets tiptoe in the waters as they search for snacks.
Curious about the name of the trail? According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks’ website, “Use of this land was first recorded in history in the late 1700s when Jean Lafitte and his followers were active in smuggling and pirating along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The French buccaneer Lafitte inhabited the old Pirate House located a short distance from what is now the park.”
There is no charge for walking the Pirate’s Alley Nature Trail. Buccaneer State Park, at 1150 S. Beach Blvd. in Waveland, is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.