The Trace is an old Buffalo run from Natchez Mississippi to Nashville
Tennessee. It was used for a short time by man as a road around
1800. In the late 1900's the land was purchased by the Federal Government
and a parkway was built.
Getting here is half the fun. From the moss-draped Mississippi bottomlands
to the rocky, oak-forested bluffs of central Tennessee, the area
along the 400-mile Natchez Trace Parkway offers an American history
lesson that's way cooler than anything you learned in eighth grade.
The road follows the ancient trade route of Native Americans and
18th-century settlers, passing colonial-style mansions, abandoned
plantations, and other relics of the antebellum South. Stop at milepost
385.9 to see where Meriwether Lewis was either shot or committed
suicide--the circumstances of his death remain a mystery. He was
buried here, too, and this secluded camping spot, perched on a forested
ridge overlooking a creek, is near the monument that marks his grave.
If you're approaching from the
south, stop at the visitor center in Tupelo, MS, (milepost 266)
for Pioneer Days, where kids can learn skills like leather working
and basket making. For event dates and times, contact (800) 305-7417;
TEENS: Ride horseback on a nearby 24-mile
section of the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail. For horse rental
and riding information, call the Parkway ranger station at (615)
Paddle the Buffalo River, west of the monument, through unintimidating
rapids and long flat-water stretches. Contact Buffalo Canoeing in
nearby Hohenwald, (800) 339-5596; http://www.buffalocanoeing.com.
Location: Approximately 50 miles southwest of Nashville on Natchez
Trace Parkway at milepost 385 Season: Year-round
Facilities: Water, toilets, 32 tent/RV sites
Fee: None (no reservations accepted)
Contact: (800) 305-7417; http://www.nps.gov/natr
Dayhike: Devils Backbone Loop
Located in the new Devils Backbone State Natural Area, just north
of the campground, this 2.7-mile hike winds along creeks and through
mature upland hardwood forest. It's known for abundant wildflowers
in spring and early summer and fall colors in October.
Find a perfect picnic spot on the pastoral grounds of the historic
Gordon House (Natchez Trace milepost 407), the 1818 brick home of
John Gordon, who ran the Duck River ferry.
Natchez Trace was once a 450 mile highway across a part of the US
running from Nashville, Tenn to Natchez, Ms. Before 1820 it was
known as the "Path to the Choctow Nation." The French
included the Trace in their maps as early as 1733, and many thousands
of travelers used it in its heyday from the 1780s to the 1810s.
1811 the Roosevelts "plied down the Ohio and the Mississippi
Rivers from Pittsburg to New Orleans" aboard another piece
of Americana, the river boat. In the 1820s the Natchez Trace saw
a last hurrah when Andrew Jacksons Military road cut the overland
distance to New Orleans by over 200 miles. The Trace had become
In the 1930s the Natchez Trace Parkway was begun to allow travelers
to follow the old Trace from end to end. The Parkway is almost complete
now. There are a few miles near Natchez and Jackson where the Parkway
has not been completed, but otherwise the Parkway and the Trace
are now known as one and the same.