Bienville National Forest
Guide

Introduction

Located in central Mississippi, Bienville National Forest is a natural reserve featuring over 170,000 acres of pristine land. There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails that take you through the area’s pine forests, as well as a number of nature trails. Many of the trails in the forest are multi-use, allowing for mountain biking and horseback riding. Hunters will also find a range of game in the forest, including large deer populations. The area is known for its birdwatching, with a number of species that are rarely seen outside of Mississippi.

With a variety of streams, lakes, and ponds, anglers will stay busy while visiting the forest. There are also a few large lakes that are perfect for water and jet skiing. There are two main RV campgrounds located in the forest, although you can find a number of smaller campgrounds that offer a more secluded experience. Marathon Lake Campground gives you full modern amenities in a waterside setting. Roosevelt State Park Campground is a large, well developed campground with great boating, fishing, and hiking.

RV Rentals in Bienville National Forest

Transportation

Driving

Bienville National Forest is located just outside of Jackson, Mississippi, and can be reached by RV from a number of major cities in the South. The forest has a number of main roads that connect to the most used RV campgrounds, so you should have few issues driving through the area.

If you are coming from Jackson, take I-20 east from the city, and you’ll reach the forest in under an hour. From Montgomery, take US-80 west to I-20, and you’ll arrive in around three and a half hours. Driving from New Orleans, take I-59 north out of the city and you’ll get to the forest in around three hours.

There are two main RV campgrounds in the area, both of which are easy to access with RVs. Marathon Lake Campground is just a short drive from MS-501. Roosevelt State Park is even easier to reach, as it’s located a few minutes off I-20.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Bienville National Forest

Campsites in Bienville National Forest

Reservations camping

Marathon Lake Campground

This popular campground sits right on the waters of Marathon Lake, giving RV campers easy access to boating, fishing, and hiking. There are 34 sites in the campground, many of which have electrical and water hookups. There are picnic shelters and tables, as well as two bath houses with hot showers. There is a boat ramp, a swimming area, and a hiking trail leads directly into the campground.

Roosevelt State Park Campground

This campground has a total of 109 campsites, all of which have electrical, water, and sewer hookups. You’ll also have access to modern restrooms, showers, and dump stations. Located right on the water, the campground is popular during the summer for boating and fishing.

There is a boat launch and swimming area, as well as a number of picnic shelters along the water. All of the sites can be booked online. Try to reserve in advance if visiting during peak season in the summer, as the campground gets quite busy.

Seasonal activities in Bienville National Forest

In-Season

Hiking

With over 170,000 acres of land, Bienville National Forest is a popular hiking destination with hundreds of miles of trails. There are a number of main hiking areas near campgrounds, making it easy to access trails. Marathon Lake is one of the most visited, with cool, shaded hikes through the hardwood forests surrounding the water. You can also hike Shockaloe Trail, which highlights the conservation efforts of forest rangers.

Boating

With multiple large lakes in the forest, RV campers will have a range of boating opportunities. Roosevelt State Park Campground sits right on the water, with a large boat ramp and a swimming area. Motorized boats are allowed on the lake, so you can water and jet ski in addition to canoeing and kayaking. Marathon Lake is also another great location for boating. You’ll also find dozens of miles of streams and rivers, some of which are wide enough for canoeing and kayaking.

Biking

Many of the hiking trails in the forest are multi-use, allowing you to bike through the pine groves and across streams. There are trails designed for bikers of all experience levels. You can find hilly trails with steep climbs, as well as relaxing rides along the water. Although many of the trails in the forest are open to biking, some are reserved for hiking. Check the signs posted at the trailheads to see which allow biking.

Off-Season

Hunting

The forest is a popular destination for hunters from all across the state. Most of the area is open to hunting, and is known for its large deer populations. You’ll also find large numbers of wild hogs, bobcats, and wild turkeys. Hunting is not allowed near any of the recreation areas in the forest. There are 14 wildlife management areas in the park, all of which have special regulations for hunting.

Fishing

With a number of streams, ponds, and lakes located throughout the forest, anglers will have plenty of opportunities. You’ll be able to catch longear sunfish, spotted bass, channel catfish, crappie, bluegill, and largemouth bass. You can fish from most of the main RV campgrounds in the forest, including at Marathon Lake and Roosevelt State Park Campground. Both campgrounds have a boat launch, and Roosevelt State Park has a fishing pier. There are also dozens of miles of streams that you can fish as well.

Birdwatching

With over 170,000 acres of land for you to explore, Bienville National Forest is a great area for birdwatching. In total, you’ll be able to spot hundreds of bird species throughout the forest, including some of the most famous birds in the state. Bachman’s sparrows are a common sight, as are brown-headed nuthatches, red-cockaded woodpeckers, and northern bobwhites.

The varied terrain in the area, including bottomland hardwood, pine forests, and a number of lakes, creates different habitats for birds. You’ll see new species as you move from area to area in the forest.

Find the perfect campsite.