Biking Beach Boulevard
So, after 10 years of rebuilding, what does the Bay/Waveland beach road have to offer from the Cedar Point boat launch behind Hollywood Casino at .0 mile marker to Silver Slipper Casino in Bayou Caddy at 11.7 miles?
On Friday, June 5 - from just past eight in the morning until after four in the afternoon - I biked the route, joyously and leisurely soaking in the experience with fresh, curious eyes of a tourist, rather than riding with head down and fiercely pedaling it as an exercise run.
My goal was to document and photograph the birds, condition of the beach, seawalls, public piers and boat launches and distances of note along the way. Weary and, unfortunately sunburned at the end, my take is this community has struggled and brilliantly succeeded in creating a little piece of heaven. This link (make sure "terrain" is selected) beautifully displays a map of the contours of the bay.
Beach to Bayou
From the boat launch to the intersection of North Beach Blvd and Hwy 90 at 2.9 miles, there is only street biking, but the bay wall supports walkers and fishermen to the Bay-Waveland Yacht Club at 2.5 miles. Speed restriction is 25 mph which seemed well regarded by the locals.
Dunbar Pier is public and in good shape with some roadside parking available. It’s got rail lighting on from dusk to dawn, two covered sections with benches and a unique step-down landing to the water edge (but no water spigots or port-o-lets). Sadly, I saw a struggling great blue heron in this area with fish line entangled around his foot, unfortunately, too skittish to be photographed or helped.
1.5 - 2.3 Miles
2.5 - 2.8 Miles
The newly opened Bay St. Louis Harbor has permanent, as well as transient docking available with full amenities and a huge parking lot, usable for festivals as well. Interestingly, here is no boat launch. Here on North Beach Blvd, the Bay Town Inn tree (which saved three lives during Hurricane Katrina) sculpted into angels, is a delightful spot to lounge on the bench at its base and watch the bustling street and bay action.
3.7 - 3.9 Miles
The rebuilt Washington Street Pier seems to be the most basic of all five public piers along the beach road, with no coverings and no water spigots. However, there are rail lights on dusk to dawn and handicap accessibility.
I saw about 20 laughing gulls, one great blue heron, two egrets and on the rocks at the beach about 60 pigeons, lolling in the sun. In the marsh grass, there was a red-winged blackbird and, I think, an Eastern kingbird.
At the Waveland/Bay St. Louis city line, the name of the road changes BACK to South Beach Blvd. Both cities have a South Beach and North Beach Boulevard - even though it's all the same road.
According to Lisa Cowand, president of the Hancock Board of Supervisors, they are aware of this problem and want it cleaned. But, that area of the beach (being a corp of engineer initial project) poses difficult logistics, which she says is taking time to rectify. The reddish-brown color of the water flowing into the bay at the Sarah’s Lane drainage canal is from iron ore deposits in the soil, and not a dangerous discharge to beach walkers, again, according to Lisa Cowand.
This is the only public pier on the beach road to have water spigots interspersed on the pier,which I think is a huge amenity. Before it closed because of Hurricane Isaac damage, it required a fee, but none is to be required at present. There are even six sand volleyball courts and a wide beach. Even early afternoon Friday there were a lot of beachers. A snowball truck was there and very popular that hot afternoon.
The City of Waveland Veterans Memorial park is as poignant and beautiful as any I’ve ever seen. At the water’s edge by the volleyball courts, I saw four peeps and a sanderling, for the first time, with a few laughing gulls.Destination America-Red White and You is sponsoring a spectacular celebration at the pier for the 4th of July with rides, food and awesome fireworks. It couldn’t be a better introduction to the community of the newly renovated pier!
We should be proud, my neighbors, as we stay diligent protecting this little piece of heaven. Lisa Cowand informs me upgrades are in the future, but I can only hope none of the rustic charm is lost in the process and it is only enhanced.