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Trail has new name; stay off private land

I respectfully submit this letter in reference to a recent article published by The Oxford EAGLE titled “Oxford community values Whirlpool Trail.”

While I appreciate [correct] publicity about this wonderful recreational area, there are several errors in that article, and this misinformation could lead to unintended consequences for your readers.

Please allow me to give the correct information. First, this area is now named the South Campus Rail Trail.  The University of Mississippi owns much of the land along the rail bed and adjacent bike trails. This area was renamed the South Campus Rail Trail last year; the term “whirlpool trails” is confusing because the old Whirlpool plant has been vacant for many years.

There are kiosk signs at the beginning and at the end of the trail that state this new name. Second, the article recommends exploring areas that are not part of the trail system and are not owned by the University of Mississippi. Anyone is welcome and encouraged to recreate on the main rail-bed trail and the adjacent bike trails, so long as they stay on the University property.

However, the University does not own the land on which the fire tower resides, and anyone caught present on this portion of land will be subject to arrest for trespassing, and many arrests have been made recently just for that reason. There is also private land bordering the university land (designated with “posted” signs) and much of this area is used for hunting. Clearly, people who trespass into hunting grounds are in danger of being accidentally injured by firearm discharge.

Finally, the article mentions that the mile markers are hidden and the main path distance is an 8-mile loop.  New mile markers were installed earlier this year, and they are clearly visible from the rail bed trail. There are 12 mile markers, positioned every half mile. The “loop distance’ is 5.5 miles down and back (beginning at mile marker 0, turning around at the end of the rail bed (at the second kiosk sign), and returning to the start, ending at mile marker 5.5).

The Department of Campus Recreation is the unit on campus that is responsible for supervising the programming of the trail and communicating information to the public; our goal is to promote a safe and fun environment at the South Campus Rail Trail and to inform the public of the policies of the trail.

Trail information, map and policies may be found at the kiosk signs and on the website campusrec.olemiss.edu/ole-miss-outdoors/south-campus-rail-trail/.

Shannon Richardson

Assistant Director

Department of Campus Recreation

The University of Mississippi