Tuesday, February 09, 2016


Mousetail in Winter

A little over two-hours northeast of Memphis, on the east bank of the Tennessee River, is Mousetail Landing State Park.  The park has two hiking trails, a 3-mile loop trail and an 8.5-mile lollipop trail, Eagle Point Trail, with two overnight shelters, each sleeping eight.

A friend and I traversed a portion of Eagle Point Trail on our recent winter hike.  The trailhead is located adjacent to a playground across from the Park Office.  The trail roughly parallels Kelly Creek for approximately 1/2-mile before starting up Spark's Ridge which crests at 625-feet (1.1-mile point) after a gain of 250-feet.   The trail continues down the opposite side of the ridge and through a nice broad glen, green even in early February. 

After crossing Parrish Creek we soon came to the end of the lollipop stick and hit the junction of the loop portion of the trail.  We took the west fork toward shelter #2. 

Shelter #2 sits on a bluff 150-ft above the Tennessee River and was a little over 2.5-miles into our hike.  We stopped to eat a snack and inspect the wooden shelter.  The shelter is three-sided with the west-side, facing the river, open and screened.  The overnight shelter has plywood bunk-beds on the three hard walls, sleeping eight.  There is a wood burning stove that vents to the outside and a fire ring and picnic table outside of the shelter.  This is the best location on the hike to enjoy a view of the Tennessee River.   

We continued to hike another ½-mile toward Lick Creek, but the trail became flooded so we reversed course at the 3-mile mark. 

Hiking was easy going until we hit the northern base of Sparks Ridge.  The climb up the ridge proved taxing and we were breathing hard when we made it to top.  The remainder of the hike was downhill back to the trailhead.  

Though it was early February, the temperature was perfect for hiking, and without foliage obstructing our view we got a good feel for the expansiveness of the park. From any location we could easily see 500-yds in any direction, the line-of-sight only blocked by the ridgelines. We had the park to ourselves, not seeing another hiker during the three plus hours we were on the trail, nor did we see a single deer, squirrel, beaver, or bird.   

I will return in the future when the water is down and can complete the loop, but for this fine day the six-mile out and back hike was fulfilling. 


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