Oxford community values Whirlpool Trail
By Shelby Warner
Flying over hills, rocks and cycling through trees, University of Mississippi senior Brent Weltner spends a full hour each day exploring the Whirlpool Trails in Oxford.
“It’s easy to get stressed and feel under a lot of pressure as an accounting major,” said Weltner. “Riding my bike every day after class clears my head before I have to go tackle the mountains of homework they assign us.”
Weltner took up mountain biking during his freshman year at Ole Miss. He had heard about the trails through a friend, and decided to borrow a bike and test them out one day after class.
“I never thought that exploring the Whirlpool Trails a mile off campus would lead to a passion for mountain biking,” said Weltner, who now owns several specialized mountain bikes.
Located at the end of Chucky Mullins Drive and across from Highway 6, Whirlpool Trails provide a scenic, nature-filled experience for Oxford students and residents.
From easy short trails to long, uphill challenging trails, runners, walkers and bikers spend sunny days exploring different routes.
“You feel like you’re in a whole different world,” said avid runner Ida Jane Cole. “This is one part of Oxford that doesn’t feel like small-town Mississippi. It reminds me of being home in North Carolina.”
Cole makes a point to come to the trails every day after class to get outside after spending the day sitting in a classroom. With different trail levels that are color-coded, runners never seem to get bored with their route.
Several trails lead to different ponds, docks or clearings within the woods. There are several sites to explore at the end of these trails as well, such as the mysterious abandoned hippie bus and an older fire tower.
On an early morning, you can often find the Ole Miss Cross Country team running together on the Whirlpool Trails as their morning workout.
From heavily wooded areas of the Whirlpool Trails to long clearings, bikers and runners can both find something to suit their workout.
The Whirlpool trails were originally the site of old train tracks, after the Buckner’s Trestle crash in 1870. The gravel laid down for the rail tracks makes it an easy and clear spot for athletes.
Mile markers are somewhat hidden, tacked onto random trees as runners and bikers venture on the path.
“There is a really rugged untouched feel to the trails, which is what I think makes them so appealing to outdoor lovers,” said Weltner.
The main path offers a flat and wide 8-mile loop that stretches over the hills adjacent to the highway. There is a large fire tower at the end of the trail that, once climbed, is the highest point in Oxford.
Runners are able to choose their route and challenge themselves based on the path they take. Some paths offer great hiking options as well.