Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

Natchez Trace Parkway, southern entrance. Click to enlarge.

Natchez Trace Parkway, southern entrance. Click to enlarge.

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a two-lane highway that runs for 444 miles from southern Mississippi to Northern Tennessee, crossing through Alabama.  The hiking trails and historic sites along the way are managed by the National Park Service as a national park, though the Parkway is not officially listed as such.  Locals refer to the highway simply as “The Trace.”

The parkway closely follows The Old Trace, a foot and horse trail used as a primary trade route in the 1700’s and 1800’s.  Merchants would sail their goods down the Mississippi river from the north to Natchez, MS on unpowered rafts.  Since these rafts could not travel back upriver, they were sold for scrap and the boatmen walked home on the Trace.  Inns and taverns served the travelers along the way.  Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians were a prominent presence during much of the Trace’s heyday.

Natchez Trace Parkway, southern entrance. Click to enlarge.

Natchez Trace Parkway, southern entrance. Click to enlarge.

I entered the Trace at its southern end in Natchez shortly before sunset. The dense, towering deciduous trees were a contrast to the bayous I left behind earlier that day.  There was just enough daylight to explore Emerald Mound, a raised terrace of dirt roughly 300 feet tall with a flat rectangular mesa the size of 2-3 footballs fields on top.  A steep, fenced trail led from the parking lot to the top of the mound.  Dense, green, and neatly mowed grass covered the top and sides.  The mound was built by ancient Indians who hauled the dirt one basket at a time on their backs.  The Indians used this site for governing and religious activities according to the National Park Service.

Duly impressed, I headed for Natchez State Park to camp for the night.  I set up next to a friendly married couple from Maryland.  They were traveling to Texas to visit their son in college.  The next morning I was setting up my camp shower, shirtless.  My neighbor informed me of a developed shower a short distance up the road.  “I see, you don’t want to watch me do this,” I joked.  “No, take off the rest of your clothes,” his wife shot back.  I used the shower in the building.

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About Jerry
Working in Corporate America for many years, I wanted to break free of the office walls for a bit and explore the world. Having put the pieces in place, I am first exploring the USA by road. Colleagues and friends expressed interest in my travels, giving rise to Office Escape. It is my honor to share my adventures.

2 Responses to Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

  1. MJS says:

    The last line remided me of something you said long ago while traveling….”She said her stomach was flat, and I asked if I could see…”

    • Jerry says:

      M, I am utterly impressed with your memory. I’m not 100% sure who I was referring to back then. It’s an awesome surprise to hear from you. Thank you for reading the blog. You might find entertaining the forthcoming articles on Elvis’ home, the Coon Dog Cemetery, Nashville, and Mammoth Cave. Better writing (I hope) as I go forward.

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