"Natchez Trace Parkway" Top 5 Page for this destination Mississippi by Small_World
Mississippi Travel Guide: 1,617 reviews and 3,705 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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