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Thacker Mountain Trail, Whirlpool Trail or South Campus Rail Trail: Take Your Pick

South Campus Rail Trails in Oxford offer locals and visitors abundant hiking and biking opportunities. Photos courtesy of Friends of Thacker Mountain Trails
South Campus Rail Trails in Oxford offer locals and visitors abundant hiking and biking opportunities.
Photos courtesy of Friends of Thacker Mountain Trails

An extremely popular outlet for hikers and mountain bike riders is located immediately on our back doorstep and its popularity is indisputable. Problem is; no one can seem to coalesce the trails into one concrete descriptive name.


However, that problem may have been addressed and solved as the University of Mississippi recently posted signs at the north and south ends of the trail claiming that they are indeed the South Campus Rail Trail. Mystery solved!

Hiking opportunities are limitless on South Campus Rail Trails in Oxford
Hiking opportunities are limitless on South Campus Rail Trails in Oxford
Regardless of what users choose to call them; the trails play host to a swarm of locals who frequent them on a regular basis. With areas labeled North Loop, South Loop, Middle Earth and Beginner, the complexity of the trail system and its maze is awe-inspiring.

Accessible from many locations, the loop of trails runs from the Oxford Train Depot just outside of the Oxford Square to Thacker Mountain Road; approximately four miles of raw Lafayette County wilderness with amazing trails blazed and maintained for serious bikers and hikers (no motorized vehicles allowed).

A majority of the trails’ maintenance seems to be done by a group of locals called Friends of Thacker Mountain Trails and can be found on Facebook at Facebook.com/FriendsofThackerMountainTrails. There you will find hundreds of postings and photos featuring the raw beauty of the track and directions of how to get there and, hopefully, not get turned around.

South Campus Rail Trail

According to the Vacation Idea website (VacationIdea.com) where it listed these loops of trails as one of the best things to do in Oxford; it summarized this outstanding Lafayette County resource by posting: “The Oxford Depot Trail and the Thacker Mountain Rail Trail are part of a network of bicycle and pedestrian trails that link the community of Oxford. The 1-mile Oxford Depot Trail extends from Molly Barr Road to Old Taylor Road. Through a series of bike lanes, sidewalks and roadways, the Oxford Depot Trail connects with the Thacker Mountain Rail-Trail; 2.79 miles of trail from Front Street to Thacker Mountain Road.”

“Once part of the Mississippi Central Railroad, these rail-trails are rich in history. In 1852, the Central Railroad was chartered by the state legislature to build a railroad linking Canton, Miss. to Grand Junction, Tenn., passing through the towns of Grenada, Water Valley, Oxford and Holly Springs. By 1858, passenger service had extended from Holly Springs to Water Valley.”

Okay, locals. Grab your hiking gear and/or mountain bike; shelve the perplexing name dilemma and enjoy the raw beauty and hard work its “friends” have lavished on this Lafayette County jewel. Townhomes seem to perpetually encroach on the raw common spaces in our community and time will only tell how long we have to enjoy the solitude these trails have to offer.

Possibly the best directions found to enter the trails are: From the north side exit of Route 6 on Chucky Mullins Drive, head away from the Ole Miss and park near the Old Whirlpool Plant. There, a crosswalk can be found across Chucky Mullins Drive where the trail starts.

A member of Friends of Thacker Mountain Trails, Joanne Hutchison is a regular user of the South Campus Rail Trails
A member of Friends of Thacker Mountain Trails, Joanne Hutchison is a regular user of the South Campus Rail Trails

Raw wilderness is the absolute highlight of the South Campus Rail Trails
Raw wilderness is the absolute highlight of the South Campus Rail Trails

South Campus Rail Trail


Jeff McVay is a staff writer and graphic designer for Hottytoddy.com. He can be reached at jeff.mcvay@hottytoddy.com.

Follow HottyToddy.com on Instagram and Twitter @hottytoddynews. Like its Facebook page: If You Love Oxford and Ole Miss…

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