Belhaven Beach: Jackson’s best kept secret?

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I like my water. It’s clean, cold, and nutritious. Unlike the waters of Rankin and Madison counties, Jackson drinking water adds a little something extra, a little je ne sais quoi. Thy cup will sometimes overfloweth with a brown liquid resembling water only in its viscosity.

If you wish to see the origin of some of this water before it is purified, then head on down to Belhaven Beach, located on the Pearl River. This little-known slice of sand provides a quiet getaway from the noise and pollution of the metro area. And unlike The Rocks further north, Belhaven Beach is not littered with aluminum cans and eroded from the tracks of off-road tires.

The beach, located near the Jackson Fewell Water Plant, is a popular spot for outdoorsmen to pitch tents or for medical school students to exercise their dogs after work. One Belhaven Beacher, Gillian Raley, said, “It’s way bigger than I thought it would be. Dogs also love it…it was big enough that the dog could sprint everywhere and get lots of exercise.” The river is also home to many forms of wildlife such as deer, raccoons, opossums, armadillos, and foxes which are frequently spotted along its banks.

The Pearl flows past at a snail’s pace, with small, faster currents streaming down the middle of the river. Some days, the water may be a clear color-just ever so slightly tinted tan- while on other days, especially after a heavy rain, the river may swell to a murky brown. It stakes its claim on the beach within a few hours of rainfall. During the heavy rains of last April, the water rose so high that it covered not only the beach, but also the trails leading to it.

As the waters drain away, the sands return to their normal white hue, ready to be marked again with deer tracks and pawprints.