Top Ten U.S. Campgrounds

Clear Springs Recreation Area: Mississippi
By Suzanne Dow

Nearly all the longtime campers at the Clear Springs recreation area in Mississippi's Homochitto National Forest admit they found their way there "by accident." Since it is tucked away deep in the Mississippi mountains, in the rural southwest corner of the state, near the small town of Meadville, such claims are understandable. Today, however, finding Clear Springs recreation area is not as difficult. Signs along U.S. Route 84 lead campers to this delightful recreation area and its sweet little campground, Clear Springs.

Clear Springs campground has two qualities that when found in combination, are irresistible: an interesting history and a surrounding forest of lush beauty. As one begins to take in the woods, lake, and abundant wildlife, you wonder about the young people who, more than 60 years ago, created the lake, built the roads and campsites, re-established the lush woodlands with reforestation, and constructed some of the facilities still used today.

The Clear Spring recreation area began as a project of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). In 1933, the enrollees from Company F-1, Camp 1478 began laying the groundwork for the Clear Springs recreation area by building a dam and planting hundreds of seedling trees. Later, the recreation area was expanded to include a small camping area. Company F-26 of CCC Camp 1489 took over the development of the area in 1937 and continued this work until the 1940s, when the Company was disbanded.

Clear Springs Today

Today, visitors find a beautiful, idyllic little campground along the banks of a clear, spring-fed lake. The original recreational facilities of the 1930s consisted of a pit-toilet and "campsites" wherever you pitched your tent. These minimal facilities were suited for the hardiest of nature lovers. Since the late 1960s, the Clear Springs campground has seen several renovations. The most recent improvement delineated 22 specific campsites in two separate loops, one overlooking the lake and the other along the lake's edge. Each of the campsites was provided with electric and water hookups. And the old, smelly, CCC toilets were replaced by spacious, heated bathrooms with hot wheelchair-friendly showers.

Three original CCC structures are still there: two small lakeside gazebos and a large pavilion in the day-use area. The gazebos, strategically placed on either side of the lake, provide comfortable rest stops on the campground's lake-loop hike, as well as excellent places to observe the activities of the resident deer, squirrels, turkeys, raccoons, and other wildlife. The Forest Service is working to preserve both of these gazebos and the pavilion for their historical and aesthetic value.

As you sit in a gazebo enjoying the cool shade, think about those young CCC workers. Their sense of beauty is appreciated. Their long-lasting workmanship is enjoyed.



Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »