Natchez Trace Parkway – A glimpse into America’s past
The Natchez Trace Parkway from Mississippi to just short of Nashville, Tennessee is one of the most stunning drives in America. With Spring in full bloom it’s the perfect time of year to explore this 444 mile (714km) parkway. Its path winds all the way from Natchez, Mississippi, through Alabama and into the rolling hills of Tennessee. Nature lovers will enjoy the parkway’s lush forests and flora and what seemed to be hundreds of nature trails, some with beckoning waterfalls.
The drive also features lovely bridges, some masterfully engineered and designed with historic homesteads built by early trailblazers. Of course wild animals are also abundant from deer to wild turkeys, coyotes, foxes and an abundance of bird life. The Trace is easy to navigate and every turn makes for a picture perfect snapshot. Mileage signposts are marked every mile with historic references clearly posted. This journey will resonate with the American history buff as the Trace played a large role in early frontier settlement as a vital passageway from about 1800 until the middle of the nineteenth century when railroads became common place.
The Natchez Trace Parkway has been used for thousands of years by American Indians (the Kaintucks), by settlers for trade and travel and for the African-American slave passage. Today it provides a stunning scenic drive and offers many activities including camping, fantastic hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. Many stops allow you to walk on the original Natchez Trace where you can walk the footsteps of yesteryear and imagine the horse and carts of the day.
During the drive you will not see any commercial areas or towns, which adds to the attraction, but take a peek behind the trees and you will discover quaint small towns, B&B’s and country restaurants; all with the famous Southern American hospitality and charm.
Today we travelled approximately 40 miles between route marker 420-380 stopping at several trails to hike the original Natchez Trace. It was a fascinating journey and an eye-opening experience imagining the challenges faced by early settlers. We explored four separate waterfalls during our short 40 mile taste of the Trace.
Our last stop was a visit to Gordon House, built in 1808 and one of the first brick houses in the area and still standing today with a fascinating past. We explored the property and strolled down to Duck River where John Gordon and his wife Dolley Cross Gordon operated a successful ferry crossing sharing the profits with Indian Chief, George Colbert from the Chickasaw Indians.
The National Park Service has done an outstanding job in preserving and maintaining the parkway and I would highly recommend this drive. I already have the full length down for our next visit to the area.
More information on Natchez Trace can be found here on the American National Park Service website.