Woodall Mountain is little more than a hill in extreme eastern Mississippi that the force of erosion has not yet destroyed. The primary reason the people visit it, however, is that this bump is also the higest point in the state. Originally known as Yow Hill, this peak was re-christened Woodall Moutnain in 1878 after Zephaniah Woodall, sherrif of Tishomingo Co.
It is also interesting to note that on 19 September 1862, the Civil War Battle of Iuka took place in the immediate vicinity of Woodall Mountain. A synopsis of the battle includes the following description of the fighting:
"About 4:00 pm, just after ascending a hill, the Union column halted because the Confederates were well-placed below in a ravine, filled with timber and underbrush. The Confederates launched attacks up the hill, capturing a six-gun Ohio battery, while the Federals counterattacked from the ridge. Fighting, which Price later stated he had 'never seen surpassed,' continued until after dark"
Whether or not the aforementioned hill was Woodall Mountain will likely not be known, however a brushy ravine separates the eastern and western summits of the mountain. Regardless, this is definitely the bloodiest of the U.S. highpoints. At the end of the battle, the Union force of ~4500 successfully drove ~3200 Confederate troops out of Iuka to Corinth, MS. The two armies would face each other in October of 1862, where the Union claimed another, more commanding, victory.
Oddly enough, I've recently learned through genealogy research, that I had a great-great-great grandfather and a great-great-great-great uncle fight in this battle.
Woodall Mountain, the highest point in Tishomingo Co., is a monadnock, or a hill with a cap of rock that is more resistant to erosion than the surrounding land. The reddish brown rock found in the area is a sandstone with significant traces of iron present. This lends the rusty color to the rock and soil arround the hill.
From the intersection of US-72 & SR-25 south of Iuka:
- Exit US-72 and turn South (L) onto SR-25.
- Drive 0.1 mi South and turn West (R) onto CR-187 (Fairground Rd).
- Follow CR-187 as it curves 1.2 mi South and turn West (R) on CR-176.
- Drive 0.7 mi on CR-176 and turn North (R) onto a good dirt road beside a residence.
- Follow the steep road as it curves 1.0 mi up to the summit of Woodall Mountain.
- Continue West on US-72 for 1.3 mi and crossover to the South (L) onto Mt. Gilead Rd.
- Follow this paved road as it curves back West for 0.6 mi to CR-233.
- Turn South (L) on CR-233 and continue 0.5 mi to a trailhead with a metal gate obstructing car access.
The South Side route is an open public easement to the summit, which is occasionally gated. If the gate is closed, simply hike the 1.0 mi and ~200 ft up to the top.
The North Ridge trail is surrounded by private land owned by the Tombigbee Hunting Club. Based on the placement of the "No Trespassing" signs, however, it appears that access is legal along the road/trail.
When To Climb
Woodall Mountain can be accessed easily throught the year. Winter storms are not usually severe in this part of the country, however, they can occur. As with any potential hike or climb, your best bet is to check the weather report before you go.
Extra care should be taken during hunting season, as virtually all of the land surrounding the hill is owned by a local gun club. It would be a good decision to postpone any hikes for when the shells stop flying. Also note that 3 dogs guard one of the houses if you choose to hike from the lower North Ridge trailhead. They didn't bite, however, 2 of 3 were persistent in their barking.
One could probably pitch a tent or car-camp on the summit itself, however, it is unknown if this is expressly permitted or forbidden.