This famously historic route, following the route of the Old Natchez Trace travel route used by the region’s Native American Indian tribes, slave traders, soldiers and other whose footsteps are still heard by posterity, runs through three states: Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s, this route features a rich bounty of both history and scenery, and offers not only a beautiful route to ride and bountiful photo ops, but also hiking, camping and horseback riding all along the parkway. Steeped in the legends of the Civil War, the Natchez Trace Indian Trail, and the many tales abounding from the ghost towns from bygone eras lining the route, this ride satisfies both history buffs and photography buffs like.
These 444 miles of roadway running from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi have earned the title of National Scenic Byway due to their importance as the site of several Civil War battles and inclusion of many parts of the original Natchez Trace Indian Trail. Indeed, as you travel the Parkway, you’ll see signs of bygone peoples abounding in the form of landmarks from many parts of American history, including the prehistoric, the pre-colonial and the Civil War eras.
Between Natchez and Jackson, for example, riders will be treated to a prehistoric mound site, several easy hiking trails and numerous pristine examples of the “Old Trace”. Further along the route, between Jackson and Tupelo, Mississippi, you’ll find several archaeological sites, scenic overlooks, and the Ross Barnett Reservoir. From Tupelo, running north through Alabama to the Tennessee state line, attractions include prehistoric mound sites, Tupelo National Battlefield and Brice’s Cross Roads National Battlefield. Once you cross the border into Tennessee, it’s the Old Trace Drive and plenty of scenic waterfalls, perfect for capturing some visual memories of your ride on the Natchez Trace Parkway.
Stunning scenery ranging from gently rolling farmland and pastures in Tennessee to darkly dramatic cypress swamps in Alabama provide the visual variety along this road, and the lack of trucks along the way (they’re forbidden here) keep the ride relaxing and easy. You will, however, be sharing the road with plenty of cyclists, as the Natchez Trace Parkway is a designated bicycle route, and for good reason – the gently looping and curving roadway with its smooth surfaces is a joy to ride at almost any time of year.
There are no commercial services along this road, so planning ahead and packing supplies is essential, but rest assured, the extra preparation is a small price to pay to experience the historical lore and beautiful views of the Natchez Trace Parkway.
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