Below are stories voluntarily submitted by people who have completed the entire Trace. Notice that many of them by are persons who have started cycling, walking, etc. at least partly because the Trace provided a safe, attractive, and enjoyable place to do it!
On April 2, 2013, I made a round trip from Prentis to Hattiesburg and back. It took eight hours but I spent a considerable time sightseeing and talking with other bikers along the trail. I have been biking for about a year after hiking most of my life(including the Longleaf Trace) and find this Rail Trail one of the best around. It has something for everyone from beginner to advanced...walking, running, biking, riding or just enjoying the outdoors. This is something Mississippi should be proud of... Gordon High
I had a great experience on the trail. Lots of wildlife all around and plenty of scenic views that i had no idea would be on the trail. Everyone that was on the trail was really nice and i actually met a few really cool people. From start to finish it took me rite at 5hours thats counting my hour long lunch break in Sumrall and many conversations with others on the trace at the different stations. All in all i highly recomend the trace to everyone.
Two of my senior friends and I biked on the Longleaf
Trace last week. In spite of the storms, we finished the trail without
getting drenched. We started at the Hattiesburg Gateway, where someone had
worked really diligently labeling the trees and other plants along the
trail. Along much of the trail, the majestic water oaks were just
breath-taking. The trail itself had almost no increase in elevation,
making it easy for three old ladies. There were plenty of rest stops along
the way. I highly recommend this trail for ease of riding and scenery.
My son Patrick Gonzalez,
10 yrs old, and I ,Tony Gonzalez 41, from
51.9 Years / 54.3 Miles / $7.00
They’ve got a
thing on the Longleaf Trace Bike Trail in
Now, I have met the Birthday/Kilometer Challenge (the equivalent of 31.7 miles) more than once, but never the tougher Birthday/Miles Challenge (i.e. 51 miles). When I ride, I usually think about the Challenge. “One of these days I’ll do it,” I assure myself.
On a recent Saturday, the weather started out sour but was perfect for biking by noon . We loaded my bike, picked up a $6.00 battery for my bicycle speedometer, and headed westward.
I was dumped at
the northern trailhead in Prentiss My help-mate continued on to
Despite having a plush gel seat as big as a Ouija Board, my buns were toast in less than 10 miles. But my legs still had energy, so I pumped away, enjoying the passing scenery, and thinking deeply.
There were a lot of people on the Trace to start with, but the crowd had thinned by the time I reached Kudzu World.
Near Sumrall, an Emu or Ostrich, hoping for a handout, met me at the fence at the Exotic Animal Farm. I gave him a long blade of grass. He spit it out and gave me a mean look. The bamboo forest near Sumrall was not as enchanting as it once was; half has been cut down to make way for the ever-lengthening, adjacent horse trail.
I tried to get a Barq’s Root Beer in Sumrall (which has a new pavilion) but the machine balked. I settled for a Coke ($1.00) at Epley. There was a young couple sitting on the deck beside the Beaver Pond, staring at turtles on logs.
My truck was
waiting for me at
By this time, riding seemed less like “joyful” and more like “grim determination”. I was watching the odometer more than the scenery. My whole body was aching. But I was determined to reach my goal. Being hard headed does have its perks.
I crossed I-59 and
got a truck to blow his air horn. I liked that. USM was playing baseball.
The energy of the roaring crowd rubbed off on me a little bit. I rode past
the Trace Headquarters, and continued along on the unfinished part of the
Trace, across Highway 49, and towards downtown
I rode through my old trailer park location which is now USM’s Track and Field facility. I caught a glimpse of a collegiate women’s softball game going on in a secret field I didn’t know existed. I saw a Hattiesburg American rack lying in a ditch, its coin box torn asunder.
Back on campus, I
first rode under the football stadium, then inside the stadium. I passed
the Student Union, Danforth Chapel, the
Finally I returned to the Trace. On Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 5:50 PM , at Mugshots, I met my personal Birthday Challenge - 51 miles. I tacked on another 3.3 miles getting back to the truck. Those leather seats never felt so good!
my wife and I biked from the Amtrak station in Brookhaven to Mobile for my
50th high school reunion, including the entire length of the Longleaf
Trace. We thoroughly enjoyed the Trace, more than I can say for US 49
south of Hattiesburg.
Hello Mr. Pierce--
I was able to finally enjoy the entire Trace on a beautiful November 1st! Hattiesburg was home for almost 25 years until we moved in 2000 and many bicycle miles were logged on the roads around town during my work commutes and for fun. A portion of the Trace was being created before we moved and I could tell it was going to be awesome!
Bicycling in Knoxville and now in Mobile is enjoyable but pale in comparison to the opportunities that the Longleaf Trace gives your area. Easy access to a safe and quiet workout or commute is priceless! I am proud to have lived in Hattiesburg and will always recommend the Trace to fellow bicyclists.
Ya'll have a great ride on
the Longleaf Trace. I enjoyed the whole
The Longleaf Trace is an awesome trail and residents along the Trace (and in the surrounding areas) are blessed to have easy access to it! I greatly appreciate all of the supporters of this facility in Mississippi and hope to enjoy it every time we are in town!! Thanks a bunch!
Dean Blakeslee (See Solo Challenge)
I left from Jackson Road toward
the Gateway at 7, and met up with a group led by Chris West near
Gateway. I then turned around and went with them to Prentiss, then back
to Jackson Rd. This completed my length of the trace. At Jackson I
carried an injured rider home, but I decided after that to ride from
Jackson Rd to Sumrall and back to make a full century. My Time was about
Charles Felsher (who loves a hot day), and Running Bear (who hates a hot day) turn and head back to the Gateway. Despite the July heat they finished the round trip in under 5 and one half hours. (2006)
In June 2007, Charles set out to do a double double. Starting at 01:40 one Saturday morning, using a head lamp as his bike light quit, he rode to Prentiss and back solo. Then he immediately headed out again and did it again! He finished in a total riding time of 9:41, with an average speed of 17.13. Congratulations Charles.
On May 11th, while
visiting family in Summit, MS, I decided to ride the trace. It
turned out to be a beautiful day with the temperature in the low
70s. It took me about 5 ½ hours, which includes a 30 minute visit
at the Hattiesburg Gateway. If you are looking for an enjoyable
easy ride, this is it. I would recommend slowing down and enjoying
the scenery on this ride.
My wife and I are on a 7 month, 10,000 mile bicycle tour (I'm cycling; my wife is driving our support van, bless her). My mission is to cycle all of the lower 48 states to show that having diabetes doesn't mean giving up your dreams. Our web site is www.thedreamtour.org.
Peter Hoogenboom Salt Lake City, Utah
March 14th, I rode the Longleaf from the USM gateway to Prentiss and back and then looped back out past Clyde Depot and back completing my first century at 59 years old. I completed the Century in 7:39:52 averaging 13.07 MPH, which I thought was good considering the 15+ mph North wind. I'll try to ride the complete loop again this weekend while on Spring Break from East Central Community College. Thanks, this is really a great ride and resource for Mississippi. Joseph Renaud, Lake, MS
My friends and I bicycled from the USM
Gateway to Prentiss and back. Members of the ride included Bill
O’Quin, Branden Henner, and Matt McKeithen,. We left at 7:30am
and got back at 6:00pm on Jan. 4th 2006. We stopped in Sumrall
for breakfast at Wards. We made it to Prentiss at about
1:00pm. We ate lunch in Prentiss then we started to head back
for Hattiesburg. We made it back to the USM Gateway at about
I rode a 'birthday ride' on July 2, 2005 (my
birthday is 7/3) from Prentiss to Gateway. I only needed 59km, but
I went ahead and finished the entire length. The biggest challenge
was the heat. I really appreciated the rest stops and facilities
along the route. I plan to do a birthday ride in miles at the next
Nov. event. Hopefully it will be little cooler then.
Perseverance! Set out at 4:30
a.m. with headlight. First spoke broke at Sumrall and I had to
ride without back brakes. Second spoke broke on the return trip
right before Sumrall and tire was rubbing against frame for the next 20
miles. Ride ended at 12:00 noon. Had to get a new tire and
spokes, but made it all the way to Prentiss and back.
I just found your website, and I like it a lot! I am a truck driver from Douglas, GA, and I carry my bike in the truck with me and ride somewhere everyday. Occasionally, I'll get a trip to our distribution center (Wal-Mart) in Brookhaven, Ms, and I have to stop and ride the trace! I have ridden the entire trail, but not all at once. Since I have to fit it in my schedule, the most I can do at one time is about 30 miles. My most recent ride was 7-8-05, and I took pictures which some friends in GA are using to promote a proposed rail-trail in Kingsland, Ga. I have met some really nice folks out on the trail, and I have thoroughly enjoyed your facility!
Thank you so much!
Bob De Camp, (Wal-Mart truck driver)
While visiting my parents in Long Beach for the
4th of July weekend, I drove up to Hattiesburg on Saturday morning
(July 2nd) and rode the full length of the trace and back. I started
at 8:30am, made the round trip in just under five hours, and
finished up around 1:30pm. It got a little hot for the last 20
miles--properly hydrating a few days before a ride like this is
always a good idea (which I didn't do well enough, so my performance
suffered). I look forward to returning in the Fall or Spring to get
my time closer to four hours. It was a wonderful cycling experience,
and is an excellent example of what can happen when everyone gets
together and makes something happen. I would certainly like to see
more projects like this here in Texas.
I am a relatively new 53 year old cyclist and have wanted to ride the whole trace for some time now. Due to surgery earlier this year, I have been delayed. But, on July ninth, 2005, while waiting to see what hurricane Dennis was going to do, I drove up from Gulfport to the trace. I had to return to my vehicle after 1.5 miles for something I forgot, so the trip ended up being 85 miles round trip. I started at about 6:30 am and was completed at about 12:30. I really enjoyed the trace, it is a beautiful ride and it is well taken care of. Never saw so many rabbits in my life!
When my legs recover, I will be back.
Dave Turgeon Gulfport, MS
For several years, I've wanted
to complete a century ride. Today I finally did. I rode from Southern
Miss to Prentiss then back (81.6 miles). Back at Southern Miss I turned
around and rode to Epley and back (22.4 miles). Hence, I rode a total of
104 miles. I'm glad we have the trace in our area.
I just saw the log book, so
my entry is a little late. In September of 2004 to
"celebrate" my 40th birthday, I rode my bicycle from USM to
Prentiss and back, and then back up the trail 10 miles and back to
complete a "century" or 100 miles in one day. I'm
planning on this becoming a yearly event (maybe not 100 every year,
but at least to Prentiss and back), as the trace is a beautiful trail
and it made for a memorable day.
I, Henry Lopez, Jr. and my wife Mitzi Lopez have completed the Trace from Hattiesburg to Prentiss and back. But we didn't stop with just the 82 mile round trip, we also got back on the trace for another 9 miles out and then back again to complete a whopping 100 miles in one day. We completed the 100 miles on June 2, 2005. The Trace was an excellent bicycling experience. We saw lots of wildlife. We were also please to see how well maintained the Trace was. I'm 40 years old and my wife is 39 years old. We are from St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. We will be back.
My name is Rick Chatham and I completed the Longleaf trace trail on November 13 2004 during the special event for that day . I took off from Southern Gateway in Hattiesburg at 6:00 am and finished at Prentiss at 3:26 pm. I started off running 10 minutes and then walking for 5, but after about 20 miles I had to change and started running 1/4 mile and walking 3/4 because my ankles started giving me troubles. I enjoyed the event, but do not plan on doing it again for awhile. I am from Hattiesburg and use the trail a lot. I am in one of the pictures for the Birthday Challenge on the web site.
I completed a round trip (82 miles) of the Trace back
in September 2003 on bicycle. This trail is one of the Best!
I made the round trip of USM
to Prentiss this past Saturday, May 7, 2005. I
My friend Bob Wilson of Corinth Miss and I [Bill Britton from Memphis] had just arrived in Hattiesburg after Biking from Prentiss when we met these two fellow recumbentists. Bob (far left) and I (second from left) camped out at Jeff Davis Lake, and rode to Hattiesburg and back. We had a wonderful time. Bob Wilson is 77 years old and made the 2 way ride with no problems. Hope I'm in that good of shape when I'm 77 (23 years from now). Bill Britton, Memphis TN. See more great pictures of their trip.
On August 14th, 2004, 13 active
Army personnel rode from Prentiss to the Hattiesburg station. We had a
fairly organized ride with check points and service support positioned
throughout the course. We are stationed across TN and are here
temporarily working to prepare National Guard units for deployment. We
all enjoyed the ride very much. All had mountain bicycles, no road
bikes. I road the fasted time at 2:20 with two short stops at the
beginning to make adjustments on other bikes. I was pushed the whole way
by Kevin Cox and John Lopez. We plan on doing this again prior to our
Dwight Hollingsworth and I, Bob Clark, rode the trace from Prentiss to Hattiesburg and back the day of the April 04 Run for the Roses 5K in Prentiss. After running the 5K, we left Prentiss and rode to Hattiesburg station, and on the way back we stopped at Sumrall for lunch. We finished the ride about 4:30 that afternoon. John Pendergrass encountered us on the ride and a friend of mine, Lynn Landrum met us outside of Hattiesburg and rode back to Hattiesburg then turned and rode out to Sumrall with us.
I am a mobilized Reserve soldier and am here only temporarily. Riding on the Trace has been one of my physical training events since my arrival. Since the beginning of June I have logged 414 miles riding on the Trace, mostly between the Gateway and Epley Station. This is the first time I have ridden the whole thing. I enjoy it very much and will miss it when I am demobilized and go home. David Rathbone
My wife and I cycled the Trace from end to end, Gateway to Prentiss and back, 82 miles on June 12th, 2004. We watched for and observed: numerous birds (including an owl), a wild turkey, copperhead snakes, and numerous rabbits. We first learned about the Trace from a business associate from Baton Rouge who visited with his Scout Troop last year. We then searched the web and found this website. We stayed overnight the previous night in Hattiesburg, and ate at area restaurants before and after cycling the Trace. Andy Bourque, Broussard LA
A group of skaters from Georgia roller bladed the entire 41 mile length of the Trace on MS walk day. From left to right: Susan Daves, Don Baumgartner, Erik McCarron, Dan Gillespie, Jim Conner, and Joe Shelton. Not pictured: Elaine A. Tidwell and Liz Shelton
Barbara and Kevin Crotty
I had the opportunity to pedal the trace from Southern Miss to Prentiss and back on Friday, March 26th. I wanted to compliment you on the project, but even more for the people I met on the way. Being a visitor to the area for only a day, I asked some of the maintenance workers a few questions when I stopped in Bassfield. The gentlemen were very courteous and helpful, and provided me with a map of the trail and other information.
You have a wonderful attraction, and I hope to be back again sometime soon!
Charles Inman and Jack Stephenson
My name is Charles Inman and I am from Bartlett Tennessee. My friend Jack Stephenson and I rode the Longleaf Trace this weekend. It is a wonderful trail and I have been there 3 times. In fact I completed my first Century ride (100 miles) on the trace. We started in Hattiesburg and rode to Prentiss and had lunch. We headed back to Hattiesburg around 1pm. We were 2 to 3 miles south of Prentiss when my buddy heard a noise, and an animal running parallel to us for about 50 yards. I never heard the noise myself. About a minute later a very LARGE cat crossed the path from right to left. I would estimate the cat was between 50-70 pounds. It was the size of my lab, and was tan to brown in color. It never threatened us at all, it was just startling to see.
I know that you may hear some strange stories from time to time. We are both in our 40's and are college educated professionals. We saw a very big cat. What in the world was it? Has anyone else reported this?
Good Morning: My name is Tim Dortch, I am from Richland MS. I was there this past Sat 3/20/04 riding the great trail. I had the time of my life riding. I started in Hattiesburg at 8:30, made it 3 miles and had a flat. I was not going to let it stop me. I took my extra tube out installed it, and it was bad also. I then patched my old one, and went back to the Gateway Southern Miss. The young lady that was working saw how bad I wanted to make the trip. She helped me get back on the trail. I left again at 9:30, arrived in Prentiss at 1:30. I left Prentiss and returned to Hattiesburg at 4:00. It was a trip I dedicated to the Lord for giving me life. Two years ago I had a stent installed at age 36. I had a 90% block in my heart. It was a way for me to say thank you to the Lord for allowing the doctors to find and fix the problem, before it was to late. I never dreamed I would be able to make it all the way there and back, it was a great victory for me to do it.
Hope to see you again soon. Longleaf is a dream spot for a person to ride, walk, or run. Please make it longer one day.
Thanks, Tim Dortch PS. Can't wait to see my name on the list!!!
Alan and Ina Lynn Hale
My wife and I finished completing the entire trace on October 4, doing this over two days starting once at the USM station and going to Sumrall and back and then starting at Sumrall and going to Prentiss and back. We started cycling the trace at the beginning of the summer and have now made this a regular event in our schedules. Great exercise, great scenery, great people and a great time for us to talk and visit.
Marvin and Gina Leake
My husband and I started using the trail (walking) last year around January (2002). I had been told by my Dr. that I needed to lose weight and to exercise, preferably walking. Walking is not my favorite thing to do, I couldn't help but notice the cyclist of all shapes, sizes and ages. I decided I wanted to give it a try. We've been riding every since! I logged over 1500 miles since February 2002. My husband and I have traveled the entire trail, (not all in one day). It is so beautiful and I am so happy that I have finally found an exercise that I love and WANT to do!
I've still got 30 pounds to go and I will reach that goal by this December.
My husband and I would like to express to you how much we have enjoyed the trail and appreciate all the work that goes into keeping it beautiful and safe.
Thank you and God bless you!
(Ms. Kochtitzky is one of the area's leading conservationists and naturalists)
I biked a century last Saturday on the trace, and I will definitely be back for more. I went from Jackson Station to Prentiss to Bassfield to Prentiss to the other end and back to Jackson Station (plus another 0.2 mi to make an even 100 miles). That's my first ever century ride, and I don't know of a better place in the South to ride that far. Trail conditions are excellent over it's full length, it's well shaded all but a few hours around midday, and there are only a handful of places where you have to stop to cross traffic. Plus, it's quiet and picturesque. I saw a total of 3 deer on two occasions during my ride. The first time I was taken off guard by two doe that bolted across the trail 40' ahead of me when I was going ~25 mph on the downhill section about 5 miles from Prentiss.
After reading in the Prentiss Headlight about two women who had walked the Trace, I decided to expand my travelsby jogging beyond my usual route of Jackson Station to Clyde Station. I don't have the article anymore, but I recall the women where in their 70s. They would walk three miles and have their son pick them up. Next time they would start where they left off.
When I read the article, I was jogging from Jackson Station to Clyde and then walking back. After reading the article, I decided to jog the entire Trace.
Here's the plan I followed beginning on June 23 and finishing
on August 4, 2001:
On April 27, I rode from Jackson Station to
Lott Circle and back. I knew that Lott Circle is about the midpoint of
the Trace. I decided that the first chance I could work it out, I would
park my car at Jackson Station and get my son to take me to Prentiss.
Yesterday, May 16 was the day. My son dropped me and my bike off in
Prentiss at 8:02 a.m. At 12:10 p.m. I rode across the East end of the
Trace. My actual riding time was 3 hours and 8 minutes (I had
watch). I rested in Carson, Bassfield, Lott Station, Sumrall, Epley, and
Clyde. In addition, I
stopped between Bassfield and Lott Circle to answer some questions about
the Trace for a couple of ladies in a golf cart. I didn't stop at
Jackson Station but just kept going to the end. Of course, after getting
to the end, I rode back to Jackson Station where my car was located.
I recently cycled the entire trace out and back plus a couple more miles to make it a 75 mile ride. My intention was to ride about 50 miles but I met up with a good riding companion, it was an unusually cool ( 80s) August morning, and I knocked my pace down a notch or two. It's really a great experience!!! I'd say the sense of accomplishment was the main reason for doing the complete trail. Sure, it would have been nice to have had a celebration party at the finish, but just a simple handshake from my riding partner sufficed. I look forward to the trail extension and a new out and back challenge.
Don Davis Sr.
I explored the trace 2 ways on a bicycle in
November and December, 2002. I
|Boy Scout Troop 210 completed the entire trail bicycling on October 25, 2003 starting in Hattiesburg and going to Prentiss, reversing to Jeff Davis Lake for a total of 50 miles. They camped at Jeff Davis Lake on Friday and Saturday night. The Scouts completed the final requirement on their Cycling merit badge (50 Miler). They also made a previous 25 mile trip at the Trace for the 25 mile requirement. 12 Scouts and Leaders made the trip.|