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  • Bob Arnold

Lake Lincoln prepares for big year

By Bob Arnold

Lake Lincoln prepares for big year

Celebrating its 39th birthday this year, Lake Lincoln State Park is expecting to draw up to 16,000 visitors to the Wesson area during 2023.

Over nearly four decades, visitors has continued to grow as the park’s peak season has, increasingly, started earlier and stretched further into the fall. While once used mostly by folk from southwest Mississippi, Louisianans now make up the majority of those who stay for a week a more at the park’s 71 camp sites, three cottages and one cabin. Day visitors, including individuals and members of scouting, church and civic and service organizations, enjoy the park facilities as well. Campers from Australia, Canada, France and Germany, among other nations outside the U.S., add an international flare to the crowds.

“During our busy season, upwards of 300 persons stay in the park every week,” says park Clerk Rebecca Thigpin, who manages day-to-day operations. “On weekends, we operate at full capacity. We’re at about two thirds of capacity on weekdays. During the off-season, we come down to about one-quarter of capacity. If the weather is good, we have fishermen in the park every day.”

The park is open 24/7 throughout the year with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years days.

"Fishing is always nice," Thigpin says. "A 47-pound catfish and 12-pound bass are not uncommon catches. Watch out for the alligators, however!"

The cold weather around the Christmas holidays curbed the customary spike in park use at the end of its slowest time of year during the four weeks after Thanksgiving, but traffic is building with the dawn of the new year.

Three cottages and a cabin appeal to people who want to live like they are at home.

Mardi Gras in early March will mark the beginning of the park’s busy season when its camp sites and other lodging will be fully booked for 30 to 40 weeks. That’s when the first Louisiana visitors come to get away from the noisy celebrations around New Orleans and other cities and towns in their state. This year, for the first time, a low key Mardi Gras parade around the park’s looping roadways will provide a touch of the festivities they left behind, as well as herald the park’s new season.

Lincoln Country opened the 1000-acre facility in 1984 as a watershed lake area to control flooding of streams in its northeastern sector, and the State of Mississippi took it over in 1996. It is now the third most used park in the state system, and it ranks in the top 25 among 4,000 parks and campgrounds nationally for water recreation, picnic areas, beaches, fishing, bird-watching, camping, and being “kid-friendly,” according to a Reserve America survey a few years ago.

The park’s major feature is its 550-acre lake stocked with brim, large-mouth and striped bass, white perch, and catfish for fishermen who come year-round, and which offers a 1 ½-acre swimming beach and sections for boating and water and jet skiing. The park also has nature trails for hiking, volleyball sand courts, playgrounds with swings and other equipment for kids and a 200-foot walk bridge where fishermen cast their lines. There is even an 18-hole disk golf course where players hurl frisbees towards baskets, rather that hit small balls towards holes.

Nestled in the shade of towering hardwood trees are the picnic areas with grills, tables, shelters and two group pavilions; two rebuilt fishing piers, a water skiing pier, a boat dock, laundry facilities, bath houses and the Magnolia Arbor chapel for worship services and weddings, as well as the camping and lodging options.

The park sits in a valley and “we tell visitors it is a great place to unplug because cell phone and internet service is problematic,” says Thigpin. But connecting with civilization, if you really want to do it, is one of the park’s off-premises amenities not provided by the state. At Uncle Ray’s, just across from the park’s entrance on Sunset Road, you can find a good cellular phone signal and set up a computer to get email, while picking up needed camping supplies, including food and snacks; buying bait for their fishing adventures, taking out meals or sitting down for lunches and dinners.

Disk golf is an amenity.

Besides the convenience store, bait shop and eatery, golfers can play 18 holes of real golf on the Wolf Hollow course at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, a five-mile drive; and hunters can go to Wildlife Management Areas within 30 minutes of the park.

Special events, increasingly, are attracting park visitors. For many years, the time around the July 4 holiday has been an occasion for a celebration. At this time, locals tend to join the out-of-towners at the park as both campers and day visitors. This year, the Mardi Gras parade is new. Also new was a camp Halloween trick-or-treat for children. Next year, Thigpin plans an Easter egg hunt, and she is looking to introduce an antique car show and flea market in the future.

Current park rates are:

  • Day use : $2 per person per day (under five years old no charge). $6 for special events.

  • Fishing: $5 per person per day (16–64 years old)/$7 with skiing boat, $3 per person per day for disabled and seniors/$6 with skiing boat.

  • Disk golf: $3 per person per day.

  • Cabin: Two-night minimum. $86.50 per day.

  • Cottages: Two-bedroom at $101.65 per day and three-bedroom at $111.35 per day on weekends with a 40 percent weekday discount.

  • Camping Sites: 26 standard with water and electricity for campers at $26.75 per day, 22 fully equipped with water, electricity and sewage facilities for campers at $29.96 per day and 21 premium fully equipped for campers on the lake front at $34.24 per day. 14 primitive sites for tents near the beach and a bath house with no amenities at $18.19 per day.

  • Small pavilions suitable for 60 persons: $48.15 per day plus entrance fee.

  • Large pavilions for 100-150 persons: $58.85 per day plus entrance fee.

The park also sells hunting and fishing licenses.

Joshua Hinton based at Percy Quin State Park at McComb, Mississippi, is the regional manager of Lake Lincoln State Park. Its local staff includes Thigpin, Randy Chance, maintenance supervisor; and Cynthia Durr, housekeeper. For information, contact Lake Lincoln (2573 Sunset Road North East, Wesson, MS 39191) at 601-643-9044.


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