As much fun as a water slide can be, there’s a lot more to explore at Flint Creek Water Park in Wiggins.
Splash of Fun Water Park was added to Flint Creek in 2015, joining fishing, camping, hiking, boating and simply relaxing as ways to enjoy Flint Creek, which is part of the Pat Harrison Waterway District. Beyond waterslides and saltwater pools, take time to fully appreciate this 1,900-acre park.
The 2-1/2-mile (out and back) nature trail starts just past the small reservoir. To get there, drive past the campground and cabin/camphouse entrances and over the reservoir. Just past the reservoir is a sign on the right side of the road, indicating the start of the trail. This is Wiggins, so while the terrain isn’t exactly hilly, it’s not flat like the Coast. If you’re used to walking, it’s an easy trail.
As I started along the path, I heard a heavy crash of underbrush in the woods to my left. It was too loud to be a squirrel and, I jokingly thought, too hot and humid outside to be a black bear. Not too long afterward, I saw fresh deer tracks in the sand-clay path. Aha, I thought, disappointed I didn’t get to see the deer moments earlier.
The path winds above and along the water. This time of year, expect butterflies. Lots of them. I was wearing a fluorescent yellow T-shirt, and one bright yellow butterfly kept following me, as if I were an exceptionally large relative. My little friend was camera shy, however; every time I tried to take a picture, it would dart behind me.
The path is like most hiking trails, obvious but not specifically outlined, meandering through partially open field and longleaf pine forest. Wind sighs through the tall pines, and dragonflies join the butterflies in darting past. You’ll see wildflowers and other plants, such as beautyberry.
On your way back from the hiking trail, you’ll see roads leading to camping sites, camphouses and cabins available for rent. Camping fees are $28 for reserved inland sites and $30 for reserved waterfront sites, plus tax. Cabin fees range from $90 per night for two-bedroom contemporary cabins to $140 for three-bedroom millennium waterfront cabins. Some of the cabins are handicapped accessible. More compact and rustic camphouses are $70 per night, and some of these are handicapped accessible, too. A picnic shelter and two lodges also are available for rental. Altogether, there are 34 vacation cabins and 12 camphouses, and 152 developed camping spurs.
As I slowly drove along looking at a group of A-frame cabins that lined the shore of the 650-acre lake, I spotted three ducks taking a stroll along the shoreline behind one cabin. I parked and, making sure the cabin wasn’t occupied, walked down to where they were, chatting to each other like friends on vacation. They waddled past two Adirondack chairs circled around an outdoor fire pit, then, after preening a bit, they leisurely entered the water, ignoring the human tailing them.
They also ignored the anglers across the tip of the lake, who were entering their boat and loading equipment. You can bring your own boat or rent an aluminum boat; the boat launch is $10, lake privilege is $5, kayak/canoe launch is $5, boat rental is $20 (plus $25 deposit), all plus tax. The lake is stocked with bass, bream, crappie and catfish.
I heard several of those finned lake residents as I quietly walked down to the fishing pier, where a great egret was tip-toeing across the boards. As raindrops from a surprise shower started plopping on the water’s surface, fish began popping up and the egret flew from the pier to the shore across the lake.
If you go
What: Flint Creek Water Park
Where: 1216 Parkway Drive, Wiggins
Fees: Daily use entrance fees are $3.25 per person, $2.25 for children ages 2-12 and $50 (plus tax) bus rate. Splash of Fun rates range from $4.50 for a daily spectator pass to $18.50 for adult daily passes (Fridays and Saturdays).
Other fees: Camping fees are $28 for reserved inland sites and $30 for reserved waterfront sites, plus tax; . Cabin fees range from $90 per night for two-bedroom contemporary cabins to $140 for three-bedroom millennium waterfront cabins. Some of the cabins are handicapped accessible. More compact and rustic camphouses are $70 per night, and some of these are handicapped accessible, too. You can bring your own boat or rent an aluminum boat; the boat launch is $10, lake privilege is $5, kayak/canoe launch is $5, boat rental is $20 (plus $25 deposit), all plus tax.
Contact: 800-748-9403 for cabin, shelter or lodge reservations; 601-928-3051 for campsite reservations and other calls; http://www.phwd.net/flint/flint.html for more information