When you visit the scenic Natchez Trace, a National Park, All-American Road and National Scenic Byway, you’ll discover spectacular views of fall foliage that you won’t find anywhere else in The South. This fascinating parkway links Natchez with Nashville and crosses some of the most beautiful terrain in the states of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.
As a National Scenic Byway, a road recognized by the U.S. Department of Transportation for intrinsic qualities, including: archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic — it’s clear the Trace lives up to this recognition. This 444-mile route was named one of America’s most beautiful scenic byways AND one of America’s best drives by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Autumn is one of the more popular seasons to visit the Trace. In mid to late October, the weather cools down and the maple, hickory, oak and other hardwood trees begin to change colors. Visitors have the opportunity to view the brilliant fall foliage as it comes to life.
The picturesque red and orange colors offer an unforgettable travel experience. And we aren’t the only ones who agree! National Parks Traveler has also encouraged its readers to take the open road of the Natchez Trace during fall. Roadtrippers quoted in their article, “A beautiful road trip, especially this time of year.”
Check out these fall foliage photos in recent years along the Natchez Trace:
If you make the Natchez Trace you’re next getaway–a wise choice–you won’t be disappointed by its exceptional scenery!
Some are individualists who want to travel light, or alone, prefer to camp under the stars. Others may want to enjoy the comfort and charm of a B&B at night. Some come with tour groups, and some with family or friends. Some are novices and some are serious competitors. Some do it for a few hours at a time, while others take the whole route in one trip: 444 miles from Natchez to Nashville for the “experience of a lifetime.” But however travelers decide to bike the Natchez Trace, on one thing all riders agree: the Parkway offers an easy-going, easy-to-love experience.
The National Park Service has designated the entire 444 miles as a bicycle route, and with light automotive traffic— commercial traffic prohibited—slow speeds, and no stop signs or intersections, bikers can relax and enjoy an exceptionally scenic roadway, unspoiled by commercial signage or development, and offering up gorgeous vistas at every turn, from forests to farmlands to rivers and lakes.
The Trace provides innumerable side trails and opportunities for fun in the great outdoors or through artistic and cultural adventure, whether digging into historic sites, or hitting the shops and restaurants located within our 19 communities.
This spring, there are numerous bike rides along the Parkway you can participate in. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced cyclist, there’s something out there for you:
Cheers & Gears
The first weekend of April in Ridgeland, MS Cheers & Gears features some of Central Mississippi’s fantastic cycling routes with the main feature ride being the Natchez Trace. The Ross Barnett Reservoir parallels the Parkway for 8 miles of the route, which leaves for a spectacular view! Register here.
Natchez Trace Century Ride
The first weekend in May also in Ridgeland, the annual Natchez Trace Century Ride provides an experience for riders of all ages and abilities. Over 700 cyclists each year have jump started their cycling season while discovering small town charm while pedaling on stretches of national scenic byway. Register here.
Natchez Trace Bike Tour: Lizard Head Cycling Guides
The Natchez Trace Bike Tour offers a special 5-day tour exploring the deep history of the southern Natchez Trace area and the pre-Civil War era. The Lizard Head tour takes time to explore sites and learn its history. Cyclists will visit dozens of historical places while en route and stay in historic lodging. Register here.
Offer multiple rides, this tour allows you to pedal every inch of this nearly continuous greenway linking the southern Appalachian foothills and the bluffs of the lower Mississippi River. An accompanying van will haul most of your gear as you traverse forested ridges, coast along broad valleys, and slip through isolated hollows. Register here.
Offering April and May dates, VBT offers a Mississippi-specific tour of the Natchez Trace Parkway. Compelling history and gracious living merge seamlessly on this laid-back reel through the Old South. Register here.
With the Parkway’s vast stretches of winding curves, historic sites, outdoor recreational activities and friendly towns offering great dining and lodging options, it’s no wonder that the Parkway is a destination for many travelers looking to connect with nature on two wheels!
During the spring months, the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway is set to bloom into full beauty as the sun peeks out and the temperatures rise. We are happy to announce that it’s officially springtime and the dogwoods, redbuds, and blooming wildflowers are popping up along the Trace! It’s the perfect time to get outdoors to enjoy this gorgeous spring scenery.
From Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee, the Natchez Trace Parkway is vibrant with wildflowers for all to enjoy. As you travel this 444-mile route, the flowering trees give the perfect opportunity to experience springtime. Whether your unhurried trip through time is by car, RV, bike, or foot, take a moment to appreciate the foliage’s natural charm and snap a picture or two.
You can even stumble upon a special site at milepost 275.2 called Dogwood Valley. This site entails a 10-12 minute walk through a valley where unusually large dogwood trees tower overhead, often revealing an array of bright blooms. While walking, you’ll encounter a short section of the original Trace and walk through footsteps of history.
But spring isn’t just meant for dogwoods and redbuds to come out and appreciate the sunshine. Visitors can enjoy outdoor recreational activities like cycling, hiking, fishing, and camping. Bring your loved ones, friends, and the pups – all is welcome on the Trace!
Check out our Instagram photos and Pinterest board to see more spring flowers dotted along the way. And remember that not only is the Natchez Trace Parkway a National Scenic Byway, it’s also a historic one. Take the time to visit the interpretive sites and attractions to get a true feel of its culture and history.
Springtime is the perfect time to get out and explore the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway! Please keep in mind estimated bloom times are difficult to predict due to the length of the Parkway and the variations in weather. Often times, the blooming of dogwood and redbud trees begin in mid-March on the southern sections of the Parkway and travel north, continuing through late April or early May.
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a beautiful 444-mile drive from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. The historic route has seen 10,000 years of North American history and commemorates the most significant highway of the Old Southwest.
Declared a National Scenic Byway and an All-American Road, visitors can experience a rich array of wildlife, gorgeous waterfalls, memorable hikes and historic sites. The Trace is especially gorgeous in fall, when the hardwoods lining the roadway explode in color. Visitors come from all over the country to experience this unique journey and explore the Parkway’s natural, historic wonders.
Winding through Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee, here are some of the most popular points of interest from Natchez to Nashville:
Southern Terminus – Milepost 0
Your journey begins in Natchez at the Mississippi River. Northward, ho!
Emerald Mound – Milepost 10.3
Designated a National Historic Landmark, Emerald Mound is the second largest in the U.S. Covering eight acres and 35 feet high, it was built during the Mississippian period between 1250 and 1600 A.D. by ancestors of the Natchez Indians.
Mount Locust – Milepost 15.5
Mount Locust is one of the original stands left from the frontier days in the early 1800s and is one of the most significant historic sites in the South. Just like some of the first American travelers, you can take a break for a little rest and refreshment.
The Sunken Trace – Milepost 41.5
The Sunken Trace is one of the most photographed sites along the Parkway. The Trace appears sunken in this spot due to thousands of travelers walking on the easily eroded loess soil. This short trail will allow you to walk on the Natchez Trace just as thousands have before you.
Boyd Site – Milepost 106.9
Here’s a spot to dig deeper. Constructed during the late Woodland—early Mississippian period, from 800–1100 AD, Boyd Site is now home to one of 20 interpretive American Indian historic sites on the Parkway.
Cypress Swamp – Milepost 122.0
Cypress Swamp is self-guiding trail elevated above a water Tupelo/bald-cypress swamp. Enjoy a leisure walk through nature and see if you can spot an alligator!
Jeff Busby Site – Milepost 193.1
When we say this is high point of your journey, we mean it, as this exhibit is located 603 feet above sea level at one of the highest points in Mississippi. At Jeff Busby, you’ll also find a campsite and a hike up to a terrific view of the surrounding countryside.
Witch Dance – Milepost 233.2
The old folks say “the witches” once gathered here to dance, and that wherever their feet touched the ground the grass withered and died, never to grow again. Ghosthunters, here’s your must-see spot!
Bynum Mounds – Milepost 232.4
Bynum Mounds is an archeological site consisted of six mounds, five of which were excavated in the 1940s. Two of the largest mounds have been restored, and you can see them today.
Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center – Milepost 266.0
Helpful Park Rangers are here everyday (except Christmas) ready to give you direction and historical background. See the interpretive displays and get your passport stamps for the Parkway, Tupelo National Battlefield, and Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield.
Pharr Mounds – Milepost 286.7
A truly awesome sight—and must-see site. A 90-acre complex of eight different burial mounds, built between 1,800 and 2,000 years ago during the Middle Woodland period, with four of the eight mounds excavated in 1966 by the National Park Service.
Colbert Ferry – Milepost 327.3
Today a spectacular bridge takes you across the Tennessee River, but in the early 1800’s, George Colbert operated a stand and ferry at this spot. Colbert Ferry is a great place to enjoy a picnic by the river, find restrooms or use the boat launch.
Rock Spring – Milepost 330.2
Rock Spring offers a short half-mile loop that takes you past Colbert Creek and away from the traffic of the Parkway. Walk the stepping stones over a sparkling creek.
Meriwether Lewis Site – Milepost 385.9
The famous explorer Meriwether Lewis led a dramatic life and died a mysterious death right here. Visit his gravesite and do some exploring of your own at this 300-acre park. Also find campsites, a picnic area, and self-guided walking trails.
Fall Hallow Trail – Milepost 391.9
If you like nature and waterfalls, you will want to take a short walk on the Fall Hallow Trail. A five-minute walk will take you to a viewing platform to see a small waterfall. Those interested in continuing on will be rewarded with numerous small cascades.
Tobacco Barn and Old Trace Drive – Milepost 401.4
Check out the Tobacco Farm for a cool learning experience about drying tobacco. You’ll “leaf ” this exhibit with a greater understanding of and appreciation for the crop that played a crucial role in America’s agricultural and economic history. The two mile drive on the Old Trace has spectacular views of the forest as well.
Jackson Falls – Milepost 404.7 and Baker Bluff Overlook – Milepost 405.1
We’re putting these two popular stops together since many visitors take advantage of both scenic beauties! Here, you can hike on the .2-mile paved trail into a small gorge to see Jackson Falls, named after President Andrew Jackson. Head over to Baker Bluff Overlook nearby to take in the gorgeous views.
Gordon House Historic Site – Milepost 407.7
Built in 1818, the Gordon House is one of only two surviving historic buildings on the Natchez Trace Parkway. The Gordon family operated a ferry near this house to help Natchez Trace travelers cross the Duck River.
Garrison Creek – Milepost 427.6
Horse and hiking trails are the highlights of Garrison Creek. As the northern terminus for the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail, it is a great location to start a hike or trail ride.
Birdsong Hollow – Milepost 438.0
The nation’s first double arch bridge spans 1,648 feet and stands 155 feet tall. Birdsong Hollow is a stunning place for picture-taking any time of the year!
Northern Terminus – Milepost 444.0
Journey’s end—now it’s time to plan your return! But first, be sure to enjoy Southern cooking at the diner that sits at the northern terminus, The Loveless Cafe. Best biscuits ever.
If your preferred travel style consists of historic spots, scenic overlooks, hiking, cycling, picnicking, camping, wildlife, and viewing spectacular foliage, check out the materials below to get started on your Natchez Trace journey:
One of the many reasons visitors love the historic Natchez Trace Parkway is the fact that it’s a bicycle-friendly route. Commercial traffic is not allowed, so this environment allows cyclists to be worry-free of large trucks. There aren’t any stoplights or billboards–just pure scenic beauty and the sounds of chirping birds and wind blowing through the trees. Bicycling the Trace is truly an incredible experience.
Whether you’re a beginner or advanced cyclist, check out these 3 tips for biking the Natchez Trace Parkway.
1) Plan Your Route
Before you hop on your bike, it’s important to decide when and what you want to experience along the Natchez Trace.
We suggest planning your bicycling trip during the springtime or fall months. These two seasons are popular for cyclists because they’re peak times for stunning scenic views and perfect weather temps. In the spring, cyclists can enjoy the blooming dogwoods and redbud trees. Come autumn, the gorgeous fall foliage is a must-see on the Natchez Trace Parkway. And no matter what season you travel, the scenery will consist of rural farms, wooded hills, friendly wildlife, and breathtaking overlooks.
You should also look into which attractions you’d like to visit during your Natchez Trace trip. There are numerous historic spots that will take you WAY back in time. It’s interesting to imagine the Kaintucks traveling the Trace thousands of years ago, and having the opportunity today to literally walk in their footsteps.
Finally, you want to plan where to stay and eat. Nineteen communities are dotted along the Parkway, providing plenty of hotels, B&Bs, delicious restaurants, and even fun community events to attend.
Be sure to download our Visitors Guide HERE to help with planning your trip. Our friends at NPS have some great info on campgrounds, trails, maps, and more.
2) Know the Safety Guidelines
The Natchez Trace welcomes millions of visitors each year. As a designated bicycling route, thousands of bicyclists travel the Parkway. Bicyclists and motorists have a responsibility to share the road. Safety always comes first! For an optimal and safe cycling experience, be sure to review the Safety Guidelines from the National Park Service.
Here are a few key safety tips:
Avoid riding the Parkway at dawn and dusk when visibility is low.
Use of high-visibility clothing, lights, flags and/or other safety equipment is highly recommended.
Vehicle traffic in Jackson, Tupelo, and Nashville increases during morning and evening commutes.
Use extra caution when traveling on the Parkway during these times.
Bicyclists may chose to use the Multi-use Trail in Ridgeland, MS to avoid bicycling the Parkway during peak commuter hours.
3) Document Your Journey
Biking the Natchez Trace Parkway is an unforgettable experience. To make the most of your trip, we recommend documenting your journey by taking pictures or even blogging about it. Whether you’re traveling from Natchez to Nashville or just a shorter portion of the Trace, there are plenty of opportunities to capture beautiful photos and caption where you are and what you’re doing.
So there you have it! Before hopping your on bike, keep these 3 simple tips in mind for an excellent cycling experience on this 444-mile scenic byway.
This 444-mile scenic parkway links Natchez with Nashville and crosses some of the most beautiful terrain in the states of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. The Natchez Trace Parkway has been declared a National Scenic Byway and was recently chosen as one of America’s Best Drives by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Open year-round for motorists, hikers and bikers, it provides visitors the opportunity for an unhurried trip through time. If you haven’t visited this hidden gem full of history and scenic beauty, it’s time you plan a visit—and we’ll give you 10 reasons why!
Rich in History & Culture
For thousands of years, people have traveled this historic route for all sorts of reasons. Today, you can do the same and learn about the journeys of Kaintucks and travelers like Meriwether Lewis and President Andrew Jackson.
Enjoy a nostalgic walk on parts of the original foot trail, The Old Natchez Trace. Drive the Natchez Trace Parkway and pull off the wayside exhibits to see the interesting spots and interpretive exhibits. The preserved sites are a fascinating way to step back in time and experience the rich cultural heritage here.
Plenty of Attractions
Following Reason #1, the Parkway attractions offer plenty to do for visitors of all ages. You can find unique sites to pull off, park, and enjoy the sights in the area — from historic landmarks, to creek side rest areas, to breathtaking overlooks and picnic spots, you’re sure to find new places to learn and explore.
No Billboards, Signs, or Traffic Lights
There are no billboards, stop signs or stop lights—only beautiful scenery for visitors to appreciate the farmland, creeks, wildlife, and foliage. The Natchez Trace Parkway is a place to enjoy a leisurely ride through the charming countryside at your own pace.
Designated Bicycling Route
Pedaling out to the Natchez Trace offers an easy-going, easy-to-love experience. The entire 444-mile Parkway is designated as a bicycle route. Cyclists can relax and enjoy an exceptionally scenic roadway. Commercial traffic is prohibited, so cyclists aren’t dodging large vehicles or fast-moving traffic.
RVs and Motorcyclists Welcome
Recreational vehicles are a popular way to travel the Parkway. The length restriction for RVs is 55 feet, including a tow vehicle, and the height restriction is 14 feet. Most stops along the Natchez Trace are accessible by RV (see more here).
The Natchez Trace Parkway is also a great motorcycle route. The scenic route winds its curvy roads through striking scenery, unspoiled by commercial signage. If you’re looking for gasoline or a restroom, we’ve got you covered. What more could you ask for in a motorcycle ride?
For hikers, the Parkway offers over 25 nature and guided trails. There are genuine opportunities to explore diverse natural environments that include wetlands, swamps, Spanish moss, hardwood forest, and overlooks. For campers, there are more than a dozen campgrounds along the corridor, three in the park itself, and many others just outside the park.
Foliage, Blooms, and Wildlife
In addition to natural beauty and outdoor recreational activities, the chance to view wildlife awaits you. There are over 136 types of birds, from hummingbirds to wild turkey to blue heron. There are over 200 mammals, reptiles, and fish species, including deer, fox, armadillo and coyote, and eight species federally listed as threatened or endangered.
Since there are no road signs or traffic lights, there’s nothing in your way of viewing the wildlife and seasonal foliage. See photos of spring flowers and fall foliage. Psst… did we mention Condé Nast Traveler named the Natchez Trace Parkway among the Top 10 Fall Foliage Getaways in 2015?
After a long day of travel and fun, you can always find a place to lay your head at night and get some quality shut-eye. In addition to campgrounds, there is lodging available in the form of cabins, cottages, B&Bs, and hotels conveniently located just off the Parkway within its 18 communities. From Natchez to Nashville, each community has its own unique charm to fit your preferred travel style and type of accommodations.
Delicious Restaurants In Reach
Hungry? The 18 communities along the Natchez Trace Parkway have some of the most delicious restaurants in the South! From BBQ to homestyle cookin’, the cuisine here is sure to satisfy your taste buds. The delectable restaurants in Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee are just a short drive off the Parkway’s exit ramps, so come explore, eat, and stay!
It’s Easy to Plan your Visit!
And last but not least, a splendid reason to visit the Parkway is that it’s super easy to plan. If you love leisure traveling, scenic destinations, delicious food, hiking, bicycling, picnicking, camping, and outdoor fun, check out the materials below to get started on your Natchez Trace journey:
Whether you’ve traveled the beautiful Natchez Trace Parkway many times or planning your visit, you’re probably aware that there’s quite a bit of American history (10,000 years to be exact) along this 444-mile National Scenic Byway and All-American Road. This exceptional old trail is full of ghost stories, historical anecdotes, and unique attractions you won’t find anywhere else. Want to hear more? Take a look at these top 10 historical facts about the Natchez Trace.
Meriwether Lewis died from gunshot wounds on the Trace, supposedly. He was on his way to Washington, D.C. and historians still debate whether it was suicide or murder that took his life.
The old Trace was full of highwaymen. One was Joseph Thompson Hare, who’s said to have buried his unfaithful mistress alive near the trail. He was thereafter haunted by the vision of a phantom white horse, until he was hanged for his crimes in 1818.
U.S. President Andrew Jackson was known as “old hickory.” It seems he got this name due to his perseverance while leading troops down the dangerous route during the War of 1812.
Historians believe the Natchez Trace was originally formed by herds of bison traveling to salt licks near Nashville, TN from the Mississippi River.
A good bit of the Trace’s 19th century traffic was from Kaintucks, traders who floated goods down the Mississippi River then traveled back north on foot.
Milepost 423.9 marks the Tennessee Valley Divide. In 1796, this was the southern border of the United States, with the Chickasaw Nation to the south.
Pharr Mounds, located at milepost 286.7, is a complex of eight ancient burial mounds dating to roughly 2,000 years ago. This trading hub was very active during its time.
The West Florida Boundary is located at milepost 107.9. A territory administered in part by France, Great Britain, and Spain, rebels in part of the territory established the Republic of West Florida for 90 days in 1810.
The first recorded traveler on the Trace was an unknown Frenchman in 1742. He wrote of the hardships of the trail and its “miserable conditions.”
The Trace was first officially known as the “Columbian Highway.” The name was given by President Thomas Jefferson, who ordered expansion of the trail to build links to the distant Mississippi territory.
Ready to get out there and explore what cool facts you can dig up on your own? Visit our website and our friends at the National Park Service to learn more about this fascinating 444-mile historic route.
This historic, 444-mile scenic parkway links Natchez with Nashville and crosses some of the most beautiful terrain in the states of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. The Natchez Trace Parkway has been declared a National Scenic Byway and an All-American Road and has been chosen as one of America’s 10 best biking roads. Open year-round for motorists, hikers and bikers, it provides visitors the opportunity for an unhurried trip through time. We love the Natchez Trace, and so do visitors from all over!
Published in Fun Times Guide, one Parkway fanatic shares her top 10 reasons why you should put the route on your bucket list:
1. You can learn about the journeys of those who traveled along The Trace as far back as 800 A.D. as well as more recent travelers like Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis & Clark Expedition and President Andrew Jackson.
2. Enjoy a nostalgic walk and/or drive on parts of the original foot trail — a.k.a. the historic Old Natchez Trace.
3. Commercial traffic is prohibited on the Natchez Trace, so you’re not dodging large vehicles or fast-moving traffic. There’s definitely no hustle & bustle here!
4. The maximum speed limit is 50 mph, so you’re able to enjoy a leisurely drive through the beautiful countryside at your own pace.
5. There is very little traffic on the Natchez Trace Parkway, so you can feel comfortable bicycling, jogging, or even walking on the main road itself. (*note: Tupelo and Ridgeland areas have heavier traffic.)
6. Since there are no billboards, signs, or traffic lights on the Trace, it’s easy to take a step back in time and just enjoy the ride.
7. There are lots of unique places to pull-off and park so you can enjoy the sights and sounds in the area — from creekside rest areas to picnic spots, walking trails, and historic landmarks.
8. With plenty of roadside attractions along the Natchez Trace Parkway, there’s plenty to see and do for all ages.
9. The Natchez Trace Parkway is dog-friendly with plenty of spots to roam and explore — including numerous creeks, bridges, and trails.
10. There’s lodging available in the form of cabins, RV & tent camping, and bed & breakfasts. Even hotels are just a short drive away via some of the exits off The Trace.
We have to agree with Lynette that a visit to the Natchez Trace Parkway is a must! If you love leisure traveling, scenic destinations, delicious food, hiking, bicycling, picnicking, camping, and outdoor fun, it’s time you plan your trip to the Trace.
Ahh… picnics. They’re defined as “a meal that is eaten outdoors especially during a trip away from home; a trip or party that includes a meal eaten outdoors: something that is pleasant or easy.” How could anyone not love them with a description like that? Picnics are a refreshing, old-fashioned activity that gives travelers the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors with a delicious sandwich–or something equally as simple and tasty–in hand.
Whether you enjoy a big blanket spread or relaxing at a wooden bench beneath the trees, the Natchez Trace Parkway offers some of the best picnic spots. In fact, the Tennesseean asked their readers and social media followers to name their favorite picnic places, and there’s no question the Natchez Trace made the list. Readers said “Any of the stops along the Natchez Trace are good picnic points,” while some described it as “a progressive picnic with one course at various stops along the route.”
Because this historic 444-mile route provides gorgeous scenic views in a calming atmosphere, it’s the perfect place for a fantastic picnic experience. There are over 90 sites along the Natchez Trace Parkway, with many providing multiple picnic tables in shaded areas.
From Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee, check out these great picnic spots for your enjoyment:
Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway – 293.2
Pharr Mounds – 286.7
Chickasaw Council House – 251.1
Monroe Mission – 245.6
Hernando de Soto – 243.3
Witch Dance – 233.2
Ballard Creek – 201.3
Jeff Busby -193.1
Bethel Mission – 176.3
Holly Hill – 154.3
Robinson Road – 135.5
River Bend – 122.6
West Florida Boundary – 107.9
Dean Stand – 73.5
Rocky Springs – 54.8 (*July 31, 2017 – Recent high winds and rainfall caused many trees to fall along this area. Due to safety concerns, the Rocky Springs Campground Spur Trail at milepost 55.0 is currently closed.*)
Owens Creek Waterfall – 52.4
North Fork Coles Creek – 23.0
Mud Island Creek – 22.0
Coles Creek – 17.5
Mount Locust – 15.5
Turpin Creek – 12.1
Lauderdale – 328.7
Colbert Ferry – 327.3
Bear Creek – 313.0
Garrison Creek – 427.6
Old Trace – 426.3
Burns Branch – 425.4
Water Valley Overlook – 411.8
Jackson Falls – 404.7
Meriwether Lewis – 385.9
Metal Ford and Buffalo River – 382.8
Jacks Branch – 377.8
Glenrock Branch – 364.5
Cypress Creek – 342.5
Whether it’s a ham and cheese sandwich brought from home or meatloaf and mac n’ cheese from your favorite Southern restaurant along the Trace, there’s no better time to visit the Trace for a good ole’, all-American picnic.
Don’t forget to pack these things on your next picnic:
Napkins, utensils and plates
A cooler to store cold food items and beverages
Blanket or spread to sit on
Trash bag for your garbage
A bag for your recyclables
Ready-made meals in a relaxing outdoor spot with good company? Yes, please! Plan your tripand come unwind on this 444-mile National Scenic Byway and All-American Road.
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a beautiful, 444-mile scenic byway linking Natchez with Nashville. The historic route crosses some of the most beautiful terrain in Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. There are so many interesting and cultural highlights to visit on the Trace that it’s hard to decide where to start and what to see. Allow us to help!
Starting from Natchez, Mississippi at the southern end and heading northbound for Nashville, Tennessee, here are some of the most popular points of interest.
Emerald Mound (milepost 10.3) is the second largest Mississippian period ceremonial mound in the country, and the largest mound along the Parkway. Here, glance into the story of Mississippians who lived along the Natchez Trace years ago.
At milepost 15.5 is Mount Locust, one of the original stands left from the frontier days in the early 1800s. Just like some of the first American travelers, you can take a break for a little rest and refreshment.
The Sunken Trace at milepost 41.5 is one of the most photographed sites along the Parkway. Here you’ll find the trail in its original state, deeply eroded by years of boots, hoofs, and wagon wheels. Walking this short trail today is like taking a step back in time.
The Ross Barnett Reservoir in Ridgeland parallels the Parkway for about eight miles and provides gorgeous scenery. Enjoy the waterfront views from your vehicle, or take it all in at Reservoir Overlook (milepost 105.6).
Cypress Swamp at milepost 122.0 offers a half mile of elevated walking paths above an old, low land swamp. See if you can spot an alligator lurking by (like this guy!)
The Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center (milepost 266.0) is a must-stop spot as its staffed everyday (except Christmas) with helpful hands of NPS Park Rangers. They’re available to give you direction, historical background, and answer your questions. Stick around to watch a 12-minute film about the cultural history of the Trace.
A short walk on the Old Trace at milepost 269.4 takes you to 13 Confederate gravesites. The identity and cause of death of these 13 Confederate soldiers remain a mystery.
Just up the road at milepost 286.7 you’ll find Pharr Mounds, an ancient Native American burial mounds up to 2,000 years old. It’s considered the most important archaeological site in North Mississippi.
Today at milepost 327.3, you’ll find a bridge over the Tennessee River. But in the early 1800’s, George Colbert operated a ferry across the river. This is a beautiful and relaxing spot to have a picnic by the river.
Rock Spring Nature Trail is a short half mile loop trail at milepost 330.2. Walk the stepping stones at the Rock Spring Nature Trail to see views of Colbert Creek–a visitor favorite!
Visit the Meriwether Lewis Monument at milepost 385.9 to learn about the life of one of America’s great explorers. Step into a cabin to find interpretive displays about the life of Meriwether Lewis. You can also check out the campground, picnic area, and hiking trails.
Everyone loves waterfalls! At Fall Hollow (milepost 391.9), enjoy a path and set of wooden bridges that take you across the small creeks before they begin their tumbling descent. Continue to the observation deck where you can look down at a large, sparkling waterfall.
The Tobacco Farm and Old Trace Drive at milepost 401.4 is a great place to hop off the main route and get on the Old Trace. This attraction has interesting information about tobacco growing. The two-mile drive on the Old Trace has nice views of the forest, as well.
At milepost 404.7, visit a waterfall named after Andrew Jackson. Jackson Falls can be reached by a short but steep trail. Take in the views, then choose to walk far down the trail to a small gorge. Your return trip will be a little laborious, but well worth it! Relax at the trailhead’s picnic tables, or leisurely enjoy the short trail to Baker Bluff Overlook (milepost 405.1).
Finally, no Trace journey is complete without a gander at Birdsong Hollow (milepost 438). This popular spot has an amazing view of the Parkway’s double-arched bridge. You’ll discover for yourself why this stunning bridge won the Presidential Award for Design Excellence.
So there you have it: our top attractions you should visit during your Natchez Trace Parkway trip!
All around the world people have fallen in love with joys of riding a motorcycle. Riders from all walks of life are always looking for the next exciting place to ride. Good news for them, the Natchez Trace Parkway is one of the best places to cruise and enjoy scenic views and unforgettable experiences across three southern states.
So why should you make this 444 mile scenic byway your next motorcycle ride? Here are the top four reasons to put your kickstands up and hit the Natchez Trace.
1. Motorcycle Friendly
One of the best things about the Natchez Trace Parkway is that it’s a safe, relaxing place to go for a ride. The road is smooth, curvy, and the speed limit is set at 50 miles per hour. Talk about perfect cruising speed! This All-American Road is big on safety, and commercial traffic is prohibited. You won’t have much in your way while you make the most of one of America’s favorite roads.
2. Gorgeous Views
Unlike most highways, commercial and other development is set far away from the Trace. This means your scenery will consist of rural farms, wooded hills, friendly wildlife, and breathtaking overlooks. The Parkway is known for its stunning fall foliage, so you may be interested in planning your visit during this time of year.
The Natchez Trace is overflowing with thousands of years of American history. From The Sunken Trace at milepost 41.5 near Port Gibson, to the 2,000 year old Pharr Mounds site at milepost 286.7, to the incredible Battle of Franklin in 1864, you’ll be surrounded by the historic happenings and interesting sites. The Parkway is rich in history and experiencing it by motorcycle is amazing to say the least.
If you like a nice mix of history and music, check out the home of the king of rock n’ roll (Elvis of course) in Tupelo, MS or the father of the blues, W.C. Handy, in Tuscumbia, AL.
All riders know that a day on two wheels can really work up an appetite. Lucky for motorcyclists on the Trace, the 18 Trace communities are just brimming with tasty treats and down-home meals. Maybe you could stop in for a solid southern lunch at Mammy’s Cupboard in Natchez, MS. If you’re near the northern section of the Trace, pick up some unique Amish and Mennonite take home goodies at Yoder’s Homestead Market near Hohenwald, TN. No matter what you’re in the mood for, you’ll be sure to find delicious dining!
There are many more fantastic reasons to visit the Natchez Trace, and we hope these top four reasons have encouraged you to make this route your next motorcycle jaunt!
But what about logistics? While you’re out out there taking in all the scenery and fresh air, don’t let worries about fuel and such give you a bother. All along the Trace, you’ll find plenty of rest stops and gasoline to stretch your legs and stretch your trip even longer. Here’s a full list of all the convenient places to take a break starting from the southern end near Natchez, MS all of the way up to the northern limits in Nashville, TN.
Mount Locust – restroom stop, milepost 15.5
Coles Creek – restroom stop, milepost 17.5
MS Hwy 18 in Port Gibson – gasoline/market, milepost 41.3
Rocky Springs – restroom stop, milepost 54.8
MS Hwy 467 in Raymond – gasoline/market, milepost 79
Clinton Visitor’s Center on Pinehaven Road – gasoline/market, milepost 89
There are plenty of things many visitors already know about one of America’s favorite scenic byway — the Natchez Trace Parkway, of course. It’s an incredibly beautiful stretch of road, complete with outdoor recreation, cycling, and all manner of wildlife peeking out from the seasonal foliage. The 444-mile path from Natchez to Nashville is full of interpretive sites and history, from the days of Native American inhabitation to battles and skirmishes of the American Civil War and beyond. And small – and not so small – communities sprinkled along the 444-mile route are full of music, culture, and friendly local personalities.
But how about a few little tidbits of Natchez Trace-ness you may not have heard before? Here are three of our favorite lesser-known facts that make traveling the historic Trace just that much more special of a treat.
1. The Natchez Trace is Very, Very Old
Although the current path we know and love was begun in 1938, and didn’t take its current form until 2005, the roots of this route are far older. The first human travelers were local Native American tribes including the Natchez, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations. Historians have identified numerous sites along the Trace that date back to the Paleo-Indian Period, from roughly 14,000 to 9,000 years ago. Just think of all the unique peoples and personalities in whose footsteps you can follow – literally.
2. Bison Built The Natchez Trace
That’s right, bison. Anyone familiar with the American Southeast these days might be surprised to hear of bison navigating the back woods of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. Most folks associate the massive mammals with the open plains of the Old West, but they had their place down South as well. Bison, elk, deer, and their predators wore the trail one hoof at a time as they headed back and forth on migratory routes from wide-open grazing territory to visit tasty and nutritious salt licks near the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
3. The Natchez Trace is Curvy For Good Reason
It may seem like the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway is curved and winding just because it makes for a pretty and entertaining trip, but there’s actually a lot more to it. Both ancient animals and early human Trace traffic followed a curving route as they stuck to the ubiquitous hilltops and ridges that fill the area. They did this for two clever reasons.
First, following the tops of hills meant spending far less energy climbing up and down hills in efforts to walk as the crow flies. Second, traveling the tops of hills afforded a superior view of a person’s surroundings, decreasing the likelihood that a passerby would be ambushed by lurking mountain lions or dangerous highwaymen. While the Parkway’s shape echoes the path of the Old Trail, your journey today won’t follow the same pattern when it comes mountain lions! But thankfully the legacy of these security concerns now afford us excellent views from numerous scenic overlooks, and provide a little fun factoid to share with friends and family.
We hoped you learned something new about the historic Natchez Trace. Now it’s time to get outside and enjoy a piece of American travel history.
Give us a follow on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and share your journey with us. While you’re at it, mosey over to download the official Visitor’s Guide and get to planning your next adventure on the Natchez Trace Parkway!
For those interested in outdoor activities, particularly fishing, the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway is the ideal spot! Now that the weather is warming up, fishing on the Trace is a great way to spend an afternoon. Fishing is allowed in lakes and streams along the Natchez Trace Parkway (fishing regulations vary by state.)
Fishing is the perfect way to relax by yourself or with family and friends. It’s a hobby for many Southerners, and many of our visitors have a lot of fun dipping the line in hopes to catching a big one! Fry up a fresh dinner with your winnings, or throw them back. Either way, it’s a treasured form of fun and relaxation.
Where to fish on or near the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi:
So get outdoors, enjoy the sunshine, catch some fish, and soak in all the wonderfulness of the historic and beautiful Natchez Trace Parkway! If you’re interested in other forms of outdoor recreation like wildlife viewing, hunting, water fun, hiking, biking, horseback riding, we’ve got you covered.
Now the perfect time to plan your trip! Don’t miss the dogwoods or the interesting history, savory delicacies, or fun community events along this gorgeous 444-mile scenic byway. Download your free Natchez Trace Visitors Guide here.
Exploring the historic Natchez Trace Parkway is a wonderful past-time no matter how you go about it, but a favorite way to travel for visitors to get out and about is in a recreational vehicle. With 444-miles of culture, history, nature, and the arts, traveling the Natchez Trace by RV is a fun way to make the most of one of America’s most beautiful scenic byways.
Before you go, make sure to keep in mind the limits for what sort of RVs the Trace can handle. The length restriction for RVs, including a tow vehicle, 55 feet. Heights limits are 14 feet, and weight limits are set at 40,000 pounds. Pay close attention for bicyclists on this designated bicycling route.
Now let’s talk about the excitement you’ll have traveling by RV!
Once you get rolling, you won’t have to worry about navigating traffic too much since the Trace’s speed limits never reach beyond 50 miles per hour – perfect for cruising.
And the Natchez Trace Parkway is set up to handle RVs at just about every point of interest. Just make sure the stop is marked with a sign bearing “no circle drive” before you pull in. For a list of these places where your RV may feel a little cramped, see the shortlist available on our RVing page, then get ready to start the adventure.
Another perk of conducting your expedition by RV is that you’ll never feel rushed to get to the next stop or have to worry about finding a hotel. With an RV, you can move along at your own pace, leaving plenty of time for a hike, a history lesson, or even just a hearty traveler’s meal at one of the 18 unique Trace communities.
All three public campgrounds located within the Natchez Trace Parkway itself are primitive, but open to RV travelers on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you prefer something a little more fancy or are traveling during a busy time of year, the National Park Service maintains a full list of campgrounds on and near the Trace that’s sure to help guide you and your RV to the perfect pad.
Finally, the best part about moving about by RV is the ability to maximize your time on this 444-mile scenic byway. During the early morning and late evening hours, the Parkway is less likely to be congested, but its natural inhabitants – from whitetail deer to colorful hummingbirds – will be as active as ever. With an RV, you’re just steps from friendly wildlife and moments from catching the next unforgettable sunrise or sunset.
For those that like to make the most of every trip, traveling the historic Natchez Trace by RV is mighty hard to beat, and we hope to see you here soon!
From Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee, the Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile drive through exceptional scenery. You wouldn’t get the full experience of the Parkway if you didn’t stop at one of the many scenic overlooks.
Take a look at some of places you will encounter a breathtaking view during your Natchez Trace journey!
Twentymile Bottom Overlook near Tupelo is located on the Natchez Trace Parkway at milepost 278.4. Twentymile Bottom, now cultivated, was typical of the many low areas along streams through which the Natchez Trace passed. From the overlook you can see the bottom land of Twentymile Creek. This land is typical of the terrain encountered by early travelers of the Natchez Trace.
In 1812, Reverend John Johnson stopped at old Factors Stand near this bottom and wrote this account of bottomland travel, “I have this day swam my horse five times, bridged one creek, forded several others besides the swamp we had to wade through. At night we had a shower of rain. Took up my usual lodging on the ground in company with several Indians.”
Reservoir Overlook offers spectacular views of the Ross Barnett Reservoir in Ridgeland. The lake features 105 miles of shoreline by a 3.5-mile man-made dam and spillway. The western shore is bounded by the Natchez Trace.
Bicyclists, walkers and joggers can access the Multi-Use Trail from Reservoir Overlook at milepost 105.6. Walk or bike for miles and miles! The greenery along the trail allow visitors to truly enjoy the outdoors.
Old Town Overlook: Located at milepost 263.9, hikers can continue north for 2 miles to reach the Parkway Visitor Center, or continue south for 2 miles to reach the Chickasaw Village Site. This section of Scenic Trail is open to hikers only, and requires walking on the Parkway for road and creek crossings. The Old Town Overlook parking area is one point ofaccess to the Tupelo section of the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail.
Black Belt Overlook: Ages ago, this area was under an arm of the ocean. Shells and other marine organisms were deposited to form limestone. Exposure of the limestone to all types of weathering gradually changed it into a heavy fertile soil of various colors. The dominant black soil has given the area the name black belt, or black prairie.
Located at milepost 251.9, the black belt extends south beyond Columbus, MS then heads eastward across nearly all of Alabama. Formerly one of America’s great cotton areas, it is now considered excellent pasture for livestock.
Freedom Hills Overlook: Located at milepost 317, this is a great place to take in Alabama’s scenic views. On the way up the trail, there are two benches where you can rest before continuing on up the hill. Another bench is placed conveniently at the top of the trail. Be sure to snap a photo!
Baker Bluff Overlook: This is of the most scenic views along the Trace at milepost 405.1. It overlooks the Duck River and fertile farmland typical of this area. A hiking trail leads you from Baker’s Bluff to Jackson Falls, a sparkling waterfall. Every nature-lover’s dream!
Double Arch Bridge Over Birdsong Hollow: Located at milepost 438, the Natchez Trace Parkway Double Arch Bridge won the Presidential Award for Design Excellence in 1995. It spans Birdsong Hollow and Tennessee Highway 96, and is a popular spot for viewing Tennessee’s beauty.
Swan View Overlook: This overlook is located on the Natchez Trace Parkway at milepost 392.5. From here you can see the water tower in Hohenwald, Tennessee, the highest town between New Orleans and Chicago.
Water Valley Overlook: Water Valley Overlook is located at milepost 411.8. Take the time to pull off the Trace and drive up the short road to the top of the ridge. From the top you will be rewarded with a 180 degree view of Water Valley.
We all know the saying: the journey is more important than the destination. But how often in our busy lives do we actual put to the test? Well, you can do just that when you travel the scenic Natchez Trace, a 444-mile scenic route stretching from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee.
On the Natchez Trace Parkway, a historic path rich with Native American, early American and Southern history, the drive is calming; the vista isn’t obstructed by telephone lines and fast food signs; the friendly culture of towns along the way invites you to leisurely enjoy this journey. For those of you who prefer to see the Trace from two wheels, the entire route is a designated bike trail and offers rest stop facilities so cyclists are never too far from some shade and a break.
The road originated thousands of years ago when Native Americans developed early footpaths. The path became a trade route and even served as a pathway for many iconic early Americans, like Meriwether Lewis, who died at Grinder’s Stand in Tennessee. Today, the rich history of the Old Trace is preserved by the National Park Service, so you can enjoy a picturesque drive, along with hiking, biking, horseback riding and camping.
This cabin is an original structure in French Camp, Mississippi. The building served as a regular stopping point for weary travelers of all backgrounds during the pioneering days of centuries past. If you take a step inside, you can easily imagine yourself stumbling in from the rain with your packs of goods, hoping for the heat of a warm fire and a bunk to rest your weary bones.
For a look at the other side of life on the Natchez Trace, take a short detour near Port Gibson, Mississippi. Here you can marvel at the ruins of Windsor Plantation, an incredible antebellum home situated near the key trade routes of the Mississippi River. The mansion, which costs over $4.5 million to build in today’s dollars, sat on over 2,600 acres and was completed in 1861. During the Civil War, the home became both a hospital and an observation post for both Union and Confederate troops, depending of course on who managed to control the area at any given time. The great home survived the war and housed notable guests such as Mark Twain, only to be burned to the ground by a careless guest’s cigar in 1890.
So, if you are willing to venture off the beaten path and be led back in time to sunken trails, Civil War battlefields and antebellum homes, while also taking advantage of today’s small town restaurants, bed and breakfasts and events along the way, it’s time to savor the journey of the Natchez Trace.
Spring and summer means prime time to get to hiking along the Natchez Trace Parkway. That’s right — there are plenty of places along this 444-mile scenic route to enjoy unspoiled nature with friends and family. Folks who have visited the Trace love the hiking trails because they are easygoing, uncluttered, and offer natural, rare beauty. If you would enjoy exploring nature and outdoor beauty, the Parkway should be at the top of your list!
Did you know that the Natchez Trace Parkway offers nearly 100 miles of hiking? It sure does, and you can find over 60 miles of Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail hiking, and at least 52 different hiking, horse and nature trails!
There are numerous hiking trails on the Trace, but let’s take a look at just a couple of the incredible treks you can make along America’s favorite scenic route.
Near Sheffield and Muscle Shoals, Alabama, you can find several miles of hiking, walking, jogging and biking trails available to the public. On the TVA Reservation, nature and wildflower walks are scheduled on a regular basis. Fifteen miles of hiking trails are maintained in Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve, which is located just a few miles outside of the city limits of Tuscumbia, Alabama.
About 30 miles southwest of Ridgeland, Mississippi near Port Gibson, the Rocky Springs* section offers eight miles of beautiful hiking trails. Extending from the Utica-Regantown Rd. trailhead (Milepost 59 on the Parkway) south to the Rocky Springs Campground (Milepost 54.8), it’s also open to horseback riding.
**Park Alerts** Part of the Rocky Springs section of the National Scenic Trail, and the Owens Creek Trail and waterfall site at milepost 52.4 is closed due to safety concerns For your safety, please observe posted closures.
Now, for those of you that are really in for a good hike, the Highland Rim Section of the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail runs approximately 25 miles through the Tennessee hills near the eclectic Leiper’s Fork community, within the boundaries of the Natchez Trace Parkway. The trail parallels the Parkway from the Garrison Creek comfort station (Milepost 427.6) parking/staging area to Tennessee Highway 50/Shady Grove (Milepost 408.0) parking/staging area. This is quite an ambitious hike, but feel free to take a short stroll along just a small section of the route. Click here for map.
Hiking the Trace is like a walk through history. The 450-mile foot trail that became known as the Natchez Trace was the lifeline through the Old Southwest. You can experience portions of that journey the way earlier travelers did – on foot. Amazing!
So next time you’re planning to get outdoors in this sunny weather, consider taking a hike along the Natchez Trace. We would like to extend a special thanks to the National Park Service for providing these maps, and we hope to see you out exploring the Natchez Trace Parkway’s beauty and fresh air this spring and summer!