Travel

The Forest Retreat: A Vacation for the Summer of Social Distancing that’s only 2 hours away from New Orleans

Nestled in the serene Homochitto Forest in Mississippi, The Forest Retreat is a gorgeous, secluded spot for New Orleanians to unwind and take a breath of fresh forest air.

The Forest Retreat is a private vacation property that offers cozy rental cabins tucked away in the lush foliage of a 99,000-acre national forest. This socially distant getaway is relaxing, rejuvenating, and it is only about 2 hours from NOLA by car. You can enjoy your entire trip without coming into close contact with other humans, which makes this a perfect vacation for the COVID-19 era. Additionally, the Forest Retreat is dog-friendly, so it is ideal for New Orleanians who want to get out of town with their pups.

In early July, my husband and I packed the car, loaded up the dog, and hit the road to check out the Forest Retreat.

Planning Your Visit

There are only two rental cabins on the property, and they book up fast, so you will need to plan ahead! We reserved ours about 6 weeks prior to our trip.

These rustic, Adirondack-style cabins are available year-round.

A two-night minimum is usually required, depending on the season and the day(s) of the week that you are looking to book.

The cabins are more expensive on the weekends, so if you can sneak away from work during the week, you can snag a better deal.

The nightly rate during the week is generally $125, while the nightly rate over the weekend is closer to $150 per night.

There are certain times of the year when families with young kids are welcome, but most of the year there is a no-kids policy, so check ahead if you are traveling with children.

The Cabins: Thunder Ridge and Fallen Tree

The homey cabins are named Thunder Ridge and Fallen Tree. They are built on stilts, so you feel like you are vacationing in a tree house.

 

Both cabins contain two full size beds (one of which is in a sleeping loft that you must access by ladder!). Both cabins also have fully working kitchens, clean bathrooms, and comfy sitting areas around wood stoves.

Thunder Ridge has a fun added quirk of an outdoor bathtub! Keep that in mind if you are the bathing-in-nature type!

Thunder Ridge is closer to the parking area and the creek. If you are staying in Thunder Ridge, you may have slightly more foot traffic on the path outside your cabin.

We stayed in Fallen Tree, which is down the hill at the very end of the driveway. It is quieter and more secluded than Thunder Ridge.

The cabins are about a 1-minute walk from each other, so you do not feel too isolated. However, you cannot see the other cabin when you are in your own.

Both cabins have huge windows and giant wrap-around porches, so you truly feel like you are in the treetops.

Reserve your cabin through Airbnb:

Thunder Ridge is at this custom link: https://airbnb.com/h/thunder-ridge-pet-friendly

Fallen Tree House is at this link. https://airbnb.com/h/fallen-treehouse-pet-friendly

How to Get There

After you make your reservation, your host will send you detailed (and hilarious!) driving directions from New Orleans to the Forest Retreat.

Google Maps tells you that it takes about 2 hours, although it took us closer to 2.5 hours door-to-door.

We took I-55 towards Jackson, Mississippi, and got off the interstate shortly after the state line.

From there, you will have a beautiful drive through groves of pine trees and farmland. Once you hit the Homochitto Forest, you will turn onto a gravel forest access road for the final few miles of the journey. Having a larger car or truck is helpful for this part of the drive—but not required.

Get there in style by renting a car here. 

Things to Do

The best thing to do at The Forest Retreat is to completely unplug, unwind, and get away from it all.

There is no internet and very limited cell service, so even if you get the urge to check your work email, you can’t, sorry!

Bring lots of good books for reading on the porch in your rocking chair. You might also enjoy having some games, a deck of cards and a few jigsaw puzzles for unwinding in your cabin after dark.

Bring a flashlight or a headlamp in case you want to go for a twilight hike to look for fireflies and other nocturnal critters. The Forest Retreat is a perfect place for star gazing after the sun goes down.

During the day, the biggest attraction is the spring-fed creek that flows through the property.

You can wade and relax for hours in the cool, clear water.

If you have a dog, bring some floating balls and toys for fun in the creek.

Even Huck, who is not usually a water dog, had a blast romping and lounging in the gently flowing water.

The creek is fairly shallow. It is deep enough in places for a person to float, but not swim.

There are some deeper areas where dogs can swim if they are so inclined (Huck was not, possibly because he is built like a bowling ball).

When you need a break from the water, you can set up chairs and towels on the beach for sunbathing and picnicking. There is plenty of shade and plenty of space to spread out from other guests.

What to Bring

You will need to bring your own food and beverages. It is easiest to stock up before you leave NOLA, but if you forget something, the closest town (Gloster, MS) is about 20 minutes away.

Load up on all of your favorite NOLA treats before leaving home. We brought some fresh baked muffins from the Maple Street Patisserie to have with our morning coffee.

Each cabin is equipped with a charcoal grill, although you must remember to bring your own charcoal. The kitchen also has an oven, stove, microwave, toaster oven, refrigerator, coffee maker, and a plethora of dishes, pots, pans and cooking implements.

In addition to plenty of food and beverages, make sure you do not leave home without your sunscreen and bug spray.

If you are traveling with a dog, remember to bring your pet’s food, dishes, toys, bedding, and a crate if needed.

If you have your dog under voice control, leashes are not required at the Forest Retreat.

The cabins are well stocked with towels, sheets, blankets and pillows—so you do not need to worry about bringing those items.

Escape into Nature

We all know that vacation options are limited this year due to COVID-19, but The Forest Retreat is still a fun and safe option for your 2020 summer getaway.

Now more than ever, it is important to take some time to reflect, relax and refresh yourself for the rest of the year still to come.

If you are craving a short road trip and some quiet time in nature, The Forest Retreat is waiting for you.

Check out the website for The Forest Retreat for more information.

Homochitto National Forest
Getting there
Homochitto National Forest, Mississippi 39661, USA
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