"Natchez Trace Parkway" Top 5 Page for this destination Mississippi by Small_World

Mississippi Travel Guide: 1,577 reviews and 3,623 photos

Since I was a little girl, I have traveled this quiet roadway through Mississippi–in my early years to reach a camping destination and later on as the most direct route back to my hometown after I moved away. I used to daydream out the window of our station wagon, thinking of romanticized adventures through the woods and meadows and imagining what it must have been like when Indians used the path thousands of years ago. The most intriguing part of the ride for me was when I would see signs pointing out the old trace, a sunken path about 8 feet wide and 8 feet deep heading off into the woods and calling my name to follow it.

The Trace was in existence more than 8,000 years ago, but it became a more recognized route in the late 1700s, when farmers and fur traders traveled down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to Natchez, Mississippi. Unable to bring the boats back upstream, they disassembled them and sold the lumber and continued the journey over land, most of which was in Indian territory. In 1810 more than 10,000 travelers were recorded going north on the Trace. Not long after that, traffic waned with the advent of the steamboat, and except for a bit of use in the civil war, the Trace was almost forgotten. But the Daughters of the American Revolution saw its historical significance and started a movement to mark the ancient road. Many years later and an act of congress (or maybe it just seemed like one - ha), construction began on the trace (1937). Today all but about eight miles is finished, and I’ve heard it should be completed by 2005.

I don’t use the road for motor travel much anymore; the speed limit on the Trace is 50 mph (which at one time wasn’t that much slower than 55 mph roads in the 70s), but now that there are faster ways to reach my hometown, I use it mainly for bicycling.

I’ve been from Natchez to Jackson and from Jackson to French Camp (yeah, it is the 8 mile section around Jackson that isn’t completed). This year I’m organizing a bike tour from Jackson to French Camp - 160 miles round trip. If it is anything like last year’s tour, it should be fantastic.

The Trace has several points of historic or natural interest along the route. The River Bend was our picnic spot on the way up to French Camp last year. A nice shady place to stop and relax as you watch the river roll by. There's a trail there, too, but with 79 miles to pedal, we weren't in the mood for a hike.

The Trace parallels the 30,000 acre Ross Barnett Reservoir for 8 miles, and the view is always beautiful, but my favorite stop along the way is Cypress Swamp, which is just north of the reservoir. I'll have to find a picture and post it here.

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  • In a nutshell:You Wouldn't Believe Me if I Told You...You'll Have to See It for Yourself
  • Last visit to Mississippi: Jan 2005
  • Intro Updated Feb 15, 2005
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Reviews (6)

Comments (10)

  • misskiwi's Profile Photo
    Dec 7, 2009 at 1:59 AM

    I'm impressed by all of the Mississippi pages that I have read so far. The talent that I have seen for prose here is amazing. This reminds me why I have always been fascinated with the South. I think the best stories written and told come from the South.

  • Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
    Jul 2, 2007 at 9:50 AM

    Excellent page. We drove the entire Natchez Trace Parkway last year and loved every mile of it. Don't have the energy to do it by bicycle any more. Love the Kudzu - and goats love it too.

  • Hopkid's Profile Photo
    Sep 27, 2006 at 5:44 PM

    Finally got around to reading your MS tips. The cycling tour sounds great. Did you already do it this year?

  • Ben-UK's Profile Photo
    Sep 18, 2005 at 12:14 PM

    The Trace looks a great place -- history brought back to life -- thanks for the information.

  • aah_stone's Profile Photo
    Jul 5, 2005 at 11:24 AM

    Susan. Thanks so much for stopping by my NY pages. Mississippi looks like a wonderful place. Will look forward to seeing and reading more about your trip. Andrew

  • sayedaburas's Profile Photo
    Jun 25, 2005 at 9:52 PM

    Susan! That is lovely. Congratulations. :) :x :)) >:D<

  • leafmcgowan's Profile Photo
    Jun 20, 2005 at 10:41 PM

    must have just missed you ... i was here too! Actually here for the next few weeks as I'm doing an archaeological survey in the area ...

  • cachaseiro's Profile Photo
    Feb 21, 2005 at 6:06 AM

    very nice place. another outdoor place i have to explore one day.

  • Docu2001's Profile Photo
    Feb 20, 2005 at 11:03 AM

    The Trace ... reminds me of the trail followed by the surveyors in "Mason & Dixon" by Thomas Pynchon ... one riddled with magic and danger and promise.

  • NC_Ziggy's Profile Photo
    Feb 15, 2005 at 5:49 PM

    Ooooh! I loved your depiction of such a historical place that provides both function and facts! Great job and what a feeling to place your feet where many others walked so long ago! History Rocks! ;-)

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