Natchez Trace Parkway – MS

Details

  • DesignationAll-American Road (1996)
  • Intrinsic QualitiesHistoric, Scenic
  • LocationAL, MS, TN
  • Length310 of 444 total miles
Byway Visitor Information
Natchez Trace Compact
Statewide Byway Partners
Mississippi Department of Transportation
Downloadable Mississippi Byways Map
A green pool spreads out before the base of beautiful Cooper Falls on a fall day in Tishomingo
Natchez Trace Parkway, National Parks Service Photo

Overview

The Natchez Trace Parkway leads you 444 miles through three states and 10,000 years of North American history. This scenic parkway links Natchez, MS with Nashville, TN and crosses some of the most beautiful terrain in the states of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. The 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 and adjacent communities provide visitors the opportunity for an unhurried trip through time.

Local Byway Partners

Story of the Byway

The Natchez Trace Parkway leads travelers 444 miles through three states and 10,000 years of North American history. Established as a National Park System unit in 1938, the Parkway commemorates the most significant highway of the Old Southwest. Centuries old, the Parkway bisected the traditional homelands of the Natchez, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations. Today, it provides a near-continuous greenway from the Tennessee Appalachian foothills to the bluffs of the lower Mississippi River. Explore outdoor recreation, wildlife, and adjacent thriving communities.

The natural travel corridor that became the Natchez Trace dates back many centuries. It bisected the traditional homelands of the Natchez, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations. As the United States expanded westward in the late 1700s and early 1800s, growing numbers of travelers tramped the rough trail into a clearly marked path. The" sunken" sections you can walk along today are clear signs of historic use. In 1801 President Thomas Jefferson designated the Trace a national postal road for the delivery of mail between Nashville and Natchez.

The Natchez Trace Parkway leads you 444 miles through three states and 10,000 years of North American history. This scenic Parkway links Natchez with Nashville and crosses some of the most beautiful terrains in Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. The 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.

Established as a National Park System unit in 1938 and officially completed in 2005, the Parkway is currently headquartered in Tupelo, Mississippi. It continues to be maintained and administered by NPS. The Natchez Trace commemorates the most significant highway of the Old Southwest.

Gen. Andrew Jackson, Jefferson Davis, James Audubon, Meriwether Lewis (who died on the Trace in 1809), and Ulysses S. Grant are among the famous Americans to have traveled the Natchez Trace.

Most travelers were anonymous working folks. In the early 1800s through the mid-1820s, "Kaintucks" from the Ohio River Valley floated cash crops, livestock, and other materials down the Mississippi River on wooden flatboats. They sold their goods at Natchez or New Orleans, sold their boats for lumber, and walked or rode horseback toward home via the Old Trace. As the road was improved, stands (inns) provided lodging, food, and drink to Trace travelers.

Today the Natchez Trace provides a near-continuous greenway from the southern Appalachian foothills of Tennessee to the bluffs of the lower Mississippi River. Along the way are sites like Emerald Mound, a national historic landmark and one of the largest American Indian mounds in the United States, and Mount Locust, one of only two surviving stands.

The Natchez Trace also crosses four ecosystems and eight major watersheds and provides habitat for nearly 1,500 species of plants, 33 mammal species, 134 bird species, and 70 species of reptiles and amphibians. Also designated as a National Scenic Byway and All-American Road, the Parkway encourages modern travelers to experience historic and scenic landscapes at a leisurely pace.

Driving Directions

The byway begins on the Natchez Trace Parkway at the Alabama-Mississippi border. Visitors will travel southwest past Tishomingo, Tupelo, Montpellier, Manatee, Mathiston, French Camp, Jackson, Ridgeland, Clinton, Raymond, Port Gibson, and Natchez. Visitors will pass by a section of the Great River Road Scenic Byway.

Points of Interest

  • Emerald Mound

    This is the second largest Indian Temple Mound in the United States built and used between 1300 and 1600 A.D. by the forerunners of the Natchez Indians.

  • Barnett Resrvoir

    105 Miles of shoreline and 33,000 acres of surface area provide a haven for boaters, skiers, anglers, picnickers, birdwatchers and campers in Ridgeland, MS.

  • Grand Gulf Military Park

    The 450 acre park officially opened May 6, 1962. The park is a Civil War battlefield site with two fortifications, picnic areas, hiking trails, observation tower, museum, cemetery, RV and tent camping with showers and laundry facility.

Itinerary

  • From Natchez to Jackson

    Start your journey in Natchez at the beginning of the byway and continue northeast along the Natchez Trace Parkway. Be sure to stop at the Natchez Visitors Center. Along the way to Port Gibson, there will be a number of historic sites and scenic parks. Highlights include the Grand Village of the Natchez State Historic Site, Emerald Mound, Springfield Plantation, and Loess Bluffs.

    In Port Gibson, make a detour to see the Sunken Trace, located at milepost 41.5. Preserved here is a portion of the deeply eroded or 'sunken' Old Trace. Hardships of journeying on the Old Trace included heat, mosquitos, poor food, hard beds (if any), disease, swollen rivers, and sucking swamps. Take five minutes to walk this sunken trail and let your imagination carry you back to the early 1800s when people walking 500 miles had to put up with these discomforts and where a broken leg or arm could spell death for the lone traveler.

    As you drive northeast past Raymond, Jackson, and Ridgeland, you will be able to enjoy the beauty of Mississippi’s countryside. There are many great places to enjoy nature such as at Owens Creek Waterfall. If you want more history, stop at the Battle of Raymond. Jackson is a great place to stop for the night. Explore the capital of Mississippi and all it has to offer before you continue on your journey.

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