Wildlife trail opening at LeFleur’s Bluff
JACKSON — The LeFleur’s Bluff Education and Tourism Complex will give children and families alike a fun new experience with the addition of a new museum walking trail and an outdoor pavilion this weekend.
The new walking trail is called “Spotter’s Adventure Trail” and the pavilion is called “The Den.” Both are opening to the public on Oct. 1.
Spotter’s Adventure Trail will connect the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, the Mississippi Children’s Museum, and the LeFleur’s Bluff Playground. This state-of-the-art playground has welcomed 100,000 visitors since opening in December of 2021.
The trail is eight feet wide and features a fun and interactive outdoor experience with Spotter the Otter and friends, designed and illustrated by Senior Graphic Designer Lori Nesbit at the Children’s Museum. The characters were brought to life through stories and different exhibit elements by the Children’s Museum education team, led by William Moore, and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife staff.
Acting Executive Director for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Lynn Posey said she is excited to complete another phase at the education complex.
“The adventure trail and outdoor amphitheater will connect visitors to fun outdoor recreational experiences,” Posey said. “We are proud of the progress at LeFleur’s Bluff State Park. The playground was awarded the 2022 Best New Addition to Jackson by the Jackson Free Press.”
The Den, located west of the playground, includes seating for up to 50 students. Both museums will be permitted to use the facility for field trips, events, and programs, including the award-winning Mississippi Science Festival and Park After Dark. The shape of the lawn allows people to use the structure as an open-air amphitheater for large assemblies.
Susan Garrard, president, and CEO of the Mississippi Children’s Museum said the LeFleur’s Bluff Complex is transformational for Mississippi and the partnership between the Museum of Natural Science and Mississippi Children’s Museum will provide state-of-the-art amenities and educational opportunities for everyone who visits.
“The strategic plan is innovative and sparks a vision for the future of Mississippi, and we are grateful for the vision and commitment of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation’s board of directors, and our state leaders and legislators,” Garrard said. “As this new phase opens, Spotter’s Adventure Trail is significant because it not only physically connects two award-winning museums for a better visitor experience, but also connects families to the missions of the institutions with activities around literacy and conservation while celebrating outdoor play and our unique sense of place.”
The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation helped fund the LeFleur’s Bluff Playground, Outdoor Pavilion, and Museum Trail. They donated $3.86 million to the project and help make it possible.
“The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is proud to provide a myriad of inclusive outdoor opportunities at the LeFleur’s Bluff Complex to encourage children, families, and others to spend time outside engaging in fun activities while developing life-long positive attitudes about the importance of being healthy,” said Thomas C. Fenter, Foundation Board Chairman and President of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. “This project is important to the Foundation as it aligns with our strategic focus to empower sustainable and lasting change that is evident in both the built environment and in the health and well-being of all Mississippians.”
The grand opening of Spotter’s Adventure Trail and The Den is on Saturday, Oct. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the LeFleur’s Bluff Complex. Guests can design Spotter’s flag, create themed crafts based on Spotter’s Friends, play with bubbles, and participate in a scavenger hunt. Live animal encounters will be hosted at The Den at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The LeFleur’s Bluff Complex is open seven days a week (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.). Admission to the park is free and open to the public.
For more information, contact the Mississippi Children’s Museum at (601) 918-5469, or visit www.mschildrensmuseum.org.