Located in southern Mississippi, just south of Hattiesburg, Paul B. Johnson State Park is a scenic lakeside retreat that fits perfectly into any RV vacation. Here, you can walk through beautiful pine forests, go fishing, play a round of disc golf, or just relax by the placid waters of Geiger Lake.
The park sports a lovely nature trail, an easily accessible boat launch, a swimming beach, and a playground. It also serves as a great home base from which to explore De Soto National Forest. Adjacent to the park, De Soto covers over 500,000 acres of southern Mississippi pinelands, swamps, lakes, and rivers. Miles of hiking trails and canoeing routes snake their way through this beautiful forest. Angling opportunities are plentiful too.
Paul B. Johnson State Park offers several great overnight options, including a large modern campground with over 100 RV-suitable sites. Most of these offer full hookups, including water, electricity, and sewer. The park also has a quiet, primitive tent camping area and over a dozen cabins and cottages too. The park is open year-round. Though summer is the busiest season, winter weather is almost always pleasant.
Paul B. Johnson State Park is located just 20 minutes to the south of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The park's entrance can be accessed via local roads and is about a mile off of US-49. Roads to and within the park are flat, paved, and generally well-maintained, so you should have no trouble driving here, even if you're hauling a sizable rig.
If you plan on venturing into the more remote corners of De Soto National Forest while visiting, you might have to contend with narrow, windier, or gravel roads. Be sure to take things slow.
Paul B. Johnson is a relatively small park, with most of its day-use facilities concentrated along the western shore of Geiger Lake. As such, once you're parked at the campground, you should find yourself within reasonable walking distance of most of the park's amenities and activities.
The campground is separated into two main sections. The larger northern section features mostly back-in sites, suited to small or medium-sized rigs, while the smaller northern section has pull-throughs that can accommodate very large RVs and trailers. All sites are paved, and because they're well-spaced, you should have little trouble maneuvering into your spot.
For day visitors, there is spacious RV parking available near the pavilion and Visitor Center on the southern end of the lake, which provides easy beach access. There are a few smaller parking lots near the picnic pavilions on the northern end of the lake as well.
The park's main campground is located just to the southwest of Geiger Lake. Spots are situated under the partial shade of towering pine trees, and open areas are covered with well-kept grass. While some spots are a bit farther inland than others, none is more than a quick walk from the lakeshore. In total, the campground (which is spread across a couple of different spurs and loops) boasts 125 RV-suitable sites.
All RV sites at Paul B. Johnson offer full hookups, including electric, water, and sewer (electric is 20/30/50 amps). The campground also sports several modern restrooms with showers, a laundry area, several picnic tables, and fire rings, a playground, and a beach day-use/swimming area. Everything you need is within easy walking distance.
The maximum size for RVs and trailers is 75 feet, and several sites have pull-throughs. The size of every site is available online, so check before booking so that you get the right campsite for your vehicle.
Paul B. Johnson's campground is open year-round. If you are planning a trip, book at least 48 hours in advance. If you are visiting during peak season, consider booking as early as possible, as the park fills up quickly. Reservations can be made up to two years in advance.
Unfilled tent or RV camping spaces can be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. While tent sites are rarely filled to capacity, the RV campground can fill up during peak season, so it's best to make reservations if you can.
Spread along the western shore of Geiger Lake, just a bit to the south of the main campground, are 16 cabins and three cottages, all available for rent.
The differences between the cottages and cabins are slight. Both offer basic amenities, including furnished bedrooms and restrooms, fridges, stoves, cooking utensils, heat, and AC. Cabins have a couple of extra furnishings, including televisions, coffee pots, and microwaves.
A few cabins are designated as "deluxe," sporting extra bedrooms, fireplaces, and screened-in porches. Some cottages and cabins are set back from the lakeshore (though they're still within easy walking distance), while others are directly on the water and have courtesy piers.
The park's main campground has an adjoining tent-camping-only area. Twenty-five primitive sites are set back in a lovely, quiet portion of pine woods, away from the bustle of the more numerous RV sites.
Amenities are primitive, with no hookups available. However, the campground's restrooms, showers, and other facilities are all within easy walking distance. Reservations can be taken for these sites as well.
If you're planning a sizable event (youth group, retreat, etc.) and looking for a venue that combines a woodsy atmosphere with solid amenities, you may want to check out Paul B. Johnson's group camping option. Sitting on the eastern side of Geiger Lake, the group camping complex is set apart from the park's main campgrounds, meaning your group will have a solid chunk of the park all to itself.
"Group lodging" may actually be more accurate than "group camping." The park has several bunk-bed filled dormitory buildings, which can together accommodate over 100 guests. Cozy meeting rooms within the dormitories are well-furnished and have large fireplaces. A separate building has a large dining hall with a commercial kitchen attached. Meal service is offered by the park.
Bookings for the group lodging facility may not be made online. Those interested must call the park directly.
Whether you're a seasoned pro or a complete novice, you'll want to check out the beautiful disc-golf course at Paul B. Johnson State Park. The park's Desert Fox Disc Golf Course was the first public 27-hole disc golf course in the state. The course sits right on the edge of Geiger Lake and offers scenic waterfront views while play.
There is no charge to use the course if you've already paid your day-use or camping fee. The park does not provide discs, so make sure to pack your own set before heading out.
If you want a faster way to get around the park, consider bringing a bike and taking a ride along the shore. You’ll find gorgeous lakefront views all throughout the park, and the paved roads make biking easy.
Ride through the forests of loblolly and long-leaf pines and take in the sights, scents, and sounds of the South. Biking is great at any time of the year at Paul B. Johnson State Park. Just remember to bring your own bike in your rig, as rentals are not available.
Paul B. Johnson State Park is an excellent destination for those looking to experience the floral and faunal diversity that southern Mississippi has to offer. The park's only trail, the Trail of the Southern Pines, takes walkers through a mixed woodland populated by loblolly and longleaf pines, oaks, hickories, and dogwoods. The route is only .7 miles long, and it ambles across very gentle terrain.
The adjacent national forest lands are host to dozens of more miles of trails. The seven-mile Tuxachanie Trail, about 45 minutes from Paul B. Johnson State Park, is a particularly popular route.
If you would rather stay closer to shore, or are worn out by a long hike, just park your motorhome and head to the beach. Mississippi summers are notoriously hot and muggy, and Paul B. Johnson State Park presents no exception to this rule. Luckily, the mild waters of Geiger Lake offer an easily accessible respite. There are multiple picnic areas located near the swimming areas, so you’ll be able to enjoy a nice meal after you go for a dip.
The swimming is best from April through early October, but come any time of the year to enjoy the lake. Peak season is during the summer, so arrive early to make sure you get a spot on the beach.
The fishing at Geiger Lake is excellent, drawing anglers from around the region. Head out by boat or hike along the shoreline and find a peaceful place to cast.
You’ll find largemouth bass, bluegill, shell cracker crappie, catfish, and copper nose bream. Fishing can be done at any time of the year, although it is best running from April through September when the fish tend to be a bit more active.
You’ll need a Mississippi state fishing license if you plan to fish on Geiger Lake. These are available at the park office or online. There are also plenty of additional fishing opportunities at the lakes, rivers, and ponds of adjacent De Soto National Forest.
Paul B. Johnson State Park features a wide range of aquatic activities and is perfect for boating of any kind. Head out onto Geiger Lake and enjoy the water at any time of the year. Hop in a kayak or canoe and explore several miles of beautiful forested shoreline. Motorized boats are allowed on the lake, making waterskiing an option too.
A conveniently located boat launch offers easy lake access. Day or annual passes must be purchased before heading out onto the water. If you're looking for a lengthier paddling adventure, check out the nearby, 28-mile Black Creek Canoe Trail in De Soto National Forest.