Natchez Trace Parkway – TN

Details

  • DesignationAll-American Road (1996)
  • Intrinsic QualitiesHistoric, Scenic
  • LocationAL, MS, TN
  • Length101 of 444 total miles
Byway Visitor Information
Natchez Trace Compact
Statewide Byway Partners
Tennessee Department of Transportation
Downloadable Tennessee Byways Guide & Map
The Double Arch Bridge spans this grassy valley between wooded hills along the Natchez Trace Parkway.
Brian Crow 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 Natchez Trace Scenic Byway begins just southwest of Nashville, near Linton. Visitors will follow the Natchez Trace Parkway south past Leipers Fork, Duck River, and Collington to the Tennessee-Alabama border. Along the way, visitors can explore the natural wonders of the byway at the many scenic stops and trails.

Points of Interest

  • Birdsong Hollow and Double Arch Bridge

    Completed in 1994, the double arch bridge that spans Birdsong Hollow received the Presidential Award for Design Excellence in 1995 for its innovative design that rises 155 feet above the valley.

  • Timberland Park

    Timberland Park, opened in the fall of 2014, sits on 72 acres adjacent to the Natchez Trace Parkway at milepost 437.2 less than a mile south of the Tennessee Highway 96 (Double Arch Bridge) entrance to the parkway.

  • Jackson Falls

    A steep concrete trail 900 feet long takes you to a clear pool at the base of these falls.

  • Meriwether Lewis Death and Burial Site

    Today, the Meriwether Lewis site includes a 32-site campground, pioneer cemetery, picnic tables, visitor information center, restrooms, exhibits, trails and a section of the Old Natchez Trace.

Itinerary

  • Heart of Tennessee

    Start in Collinwood, one of the hidden treasures along the Natchez Trace. Museum lovers will find a number of informative museums and historic buildings such as the Old Depot Library, the only surviving building associated with the Tennessee Western Railroad. Enjoy exploring festivals and antique shops, or enjoy outdoor recreation on the Tennessee River.

    Follow the Natchez Trace north for 39 miles to Hohenwald. Remember the legacy of Meriweather Lewis and the early American settlement that influenced the history of this area. Few other places have such a diverse mix of sites all packed into a small area-an Amish and Mennonite settlement and General Store, home to two wineries along the Natchez Trace Wine Trail, working Alpaca and horse farms, a 1960’s commune, antique shops with small town prices, unique clothing and gift stores, specialty restaurants, horseback riding trails, even the nation’s largest natural habitat refuge developed specifically for endangered African and Asian elephants.

    Continue north for 49 miles to Leiper’s Fork. Feel the heart of rural Tennessee, enjoying authentic BBQ and Southern Hospitality. This is a great midway stop on your way along the byway.

    From Leiper’s Fork, continue north to Nashville, where the byway ends. Along the way, consider stopping in Franklin, which has a historic Main Street and wonderful shopping opportunities. In Nashville, discover the music heritage of the city alongside the replica Greek temples and southern food.

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