Choctaw County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: January 15, 2008
Author: Edward Earl

From the McCool Baptist Church in the center of the town of McCool, I headed south on MS-411. Zero or note your odometer here. At 2.2 miles, I encountered Bowie Chapel where I stayed right on the paved road. At 2.9 miles is "point 568" where I went left at a fork. At 4.2 miles the pavement ends. The well-graded gravel road beyond is suitable for any street legal vehicle. At 5.8 miles is "point 491" where I went left on road 5233. At 6.6 miles is "point 618" where I turned left on a narrow, rough gravel road for which high clearance is helpful. There was an open yellow gate which was slightly damaged and didn't appear capable of being locked. The topo map shows the area covered with forest but there appears to have been much recent logging activity and there are many clear-cuts covered with slash and some areas are covered with young pine trees. Just 0.4 mile down this road was a steep hill, heavily rutted and requiring 4WD at the top. I parked my Nissan pickup at a wide spot (plenty of turnaround space) near the base of this hill and continued on foot.

At the top of the hill the road turned sharply left and continued up the broad open ridge crest. After a total of about 10 minutes hiking time, I arrived at McCool Look Out tower in the trees just off the right side. The structure itself is still standing but the cab at the top and the bottom 4 flights of stairs have been removed. I paced the area, stepping on any rises in the ground, and called it good. While in the vicinity I heard noises from the east that sounded like logging equipment, with the occasional beeping sound of a large truck backing up.

Owing to reports which cited access problems to the Choctaw CoHP from the east, I decided to hike to it from McCool LO (about 1.5 miles cross-country up a ridge to the northeast) rather than contend with humans. From a point on the road to McCool LO, I found a rough logging road to a large slash area south of point 678. I entered the woods to the north, then used my cross-country map reading skills to navigate the bumps and dips on the ridge to the northeast. The forest is dense and immature, the trees are small and closely spaced, and it is occasionally a challenge to squeeze between them. However there is not too much underbrush, and the going is basically OK. Beginning near the saddle, near point 568, logging roads occasionally make the going easier. A well-placed logging road goes over the summit of the 720+ Choctaw CoHP, with the highest ground just a few feet east of the road in a stand of small trees.

I departed the area to the south toward MS-14. For a person approaching the area from this direction, the driving directions would be as follows. From "point 460" on the highway 1.4 miles west of the Attala/Winston county line, note or zero your odomoter and turn north on road 5201. At 3.1 miles and again at 3.2 miles, go right at a fork. At 3.9 miles, stay straight where a side road forks right through a gate. At 4.8 miles reach point 618 and follow the previous directions to McCool LO.