Mississippi is equally as notorious for its gorgeous and exciting outdoor spaces as it is for its blues and BBQ, which is why Ridgeland, MS is the place to spend summer outdoors. Located just north of Jackson, Ridgeland provides ready access to the infamous Natchez Trace Parkway, along with parks, the 33,000-acre Ross Barnett Reservoir, and hiking and biking multi-use trail systems. There are also numerous Ridgeland outdoor events, including races, triathlons, and other exciting competitions taking place each spring and summer.
Natchez Trace Century Ride
In case you don’t know, the Natchez Trace Parkway is 444-miles of scenic roadway spanning Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, and Ridgeland just happens to have ready access to a piece of that historic American pie.
Folks can drive, hike, bike, camp, and even horseback ride along the parkway; heck, you could crawl it, too, but that might take awhile. Seriously, take the tree-lined historic parkway as you like it.
We suggest biking in the Natchez Trace Century Ride 2016 on May 7. Considered to be the “jumpstart of the cycling season” the ride culminates in Ridgeland. You can sign up to ride 25, 40, 62, or 100 miles. In addition to the beautiful views, riders will find “energizer” stops every 10-15 miles where local music will be played, food will be served, and there will be folks standing by to cheer you on and keep your energy up for the scenic road ahead.
As if the picturesque Ross Barnett Reservoir (and other) views weren’t reward enough, participants can kick back and enjoy yourself post-ride at “Ridgeland Rockin’ after the Ride” where you can indulge in local culinary delights and unwind as music plays. Sponsored by the Ridgeland Tourism Commission, there will be plenty of door prizes including the grand prize of a bike.
Magnolia Meltdown Half Marathon
If you did the Natchez Trace Century Ride, then your legs are already nice and warmed up for the Magnolia Meltdown Half Marathon, which takes place on May 14, starting at 6:30 a.m.
Presented by St. Dominic Hospital, race proceeds go to support the St. Dominic Community Health Clinic. The race’s scenic course takes racers through Ridgeland, which is rewarding in and of itself; however, race coordinators want to make it extra nice, so runners who complete a leg of the race get medals for finishing.
All runners get the satisfaction of knowing their participation helps provide preventative care to those in need in the Jackson area. Also, they—along with the half-marathon runners and 10K runners—get to participate in the post-race festivities. We’re not saying everyone is a winner, but in this case, they kind of are.
Heatwave Classic Triathlon
For the past 30 years, the City of Ridgeland has experienced a “heatwave” in early June; expect this year to be no different. On June 4, 2016, the 31st Annual Heatwave Classic Triathlon will take place. Starting at 7 a.m., athletes will have the opportunity to swim, bike, and run their way to fitness and glory amidst the natural, tree-lined resplendent beauty of Ridgeland.
Specifically, athletes will:
- Swim ½ mile in the Ross Barnett Reservoir
- Bike 24 ½ miles along the Natchez Trace Parkway
- Run a 10K in the shade of Ridgeland’s popular Multi-Use Trail
In addition to the sense of extreme accomplishment you’ll get from finishing the triathlon, you’ll also have the unique experience of seeing some of Ridgeland’s most beautiful outdoor sites (we mention this just in case the awesomeness of doing the triathlon isn’t enough incentive).
Dragon Boat Regatta
Hikers, bikers, and running enthusiasts aren’t the only ones who get to get in on the outdoor fun! Dragon Boat racing has been one of the foremost team sports for 2,000 years, and the synchronized excitement is in full force during the Dragon Boat Regatta held this year on May 21 in Ridgeland. Sponsored by the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, spectators can come out to watch warm-ups, three rounds of races, plus opening and awards ceremonies. During the race, a free festival is held (on land, of course) featuring music, a kid’s village, food, and fun!
If this event sounds like too much fun to simply sit on the sidelines, enter your own team and get ready to paddle! Paddlers not only can get food and drink specials at the Pelican Cove Grill throughout the week, but they also get the chance to attend the special kick-off event aptly named Paddlers’ Party at the Lake House, where you’ll enjoy fabulous food and a cash bar.
Summertime Outdoor To-Dos
Even if you don’t make it to any Ridgeland outdoor events, there are still more than enough ways to get outside and play:
- Natchez Trace Parkway: Drive the historic, scenic parkway; it’s also a beautiful motorcycle ride.
- Ridgeland Multi-Use Trail: Because traffic on the parkway can get a little heavy, the City of Ridgeland has a beautiful, fully-functional multi-use path that parallels the parkway from Highland Colony Parkway to Harbor Drive; these connect with the Natchez Trace Multi-Use Trail created by the National Park Service for similar functions. The path is ideal for walking, jogging, skating, and biking.
- Ross Barnett Reservoir: Camp, hunt, fish, rent boats, or swim at the Ross Barnett Reservoir. It’s the perfect place to spend time outdoors during summer in Ridgeland; cool off while enjoying the glory of nature in this Delta hotspot.
“Naturally”, it’s easy to see why Ridgeland is a fantastic place for outdoor enthusiasts to spend the summer; from plenty of fun and challenging outdoor events to scenic and historic natural beauty, Ridgeland is a Mississippi city that the sun truly shines upon.