Bill & I both are a bit adventuresome about traveling.... we like seeing different things and usually take a different route even if we're just going to town and back. Sometimes though, a road beckons us back time and again. The Natchez Trace is a road that we never seem to tire of.
Beginning of the Parkway
From Wikapedia....The Natchez Trace, also known as the "Old Natchez Trace", is a historical path that extends roughly 440 miles (710 km) from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee, linking the Cumberland, Tennessee, and Mississippi Rivers. It was created and used for centuries by Native Americans, and was later used by early European and American explorers, traders, and emigrants in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Today, the trail is commemorated by the 444-mile (715 km) Natchez Trace Parkway, which follows the approximate path of the Trace, as well as the related Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail. Parts of the original trail are still accessible and some segments are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
We're usually somewhere in the southwest during at least part of the winter months. Most years we try to get back to Ohio for a week or so in the spring... often we've been on our way to a volunteer job in Maine. A few years ago we "discovered" the trace.... 444 miles of 2-lane, 50 mph speed limit, no commercial traffic driving all the way from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. It's a long, narrow National Park... no billboards, no gas stations... just beautiful scenery with wildlife.
This year was our 4th time to drive up the Trace. We headed north a little earlier than usual, but the trees were all leafed out.... the redbud had already bloomed in the southern areas, but the dogwoods were still in their glory.
There are 2 campgrounds right on the Trace. The Jeff Busby campground is 200 miles north of the south entrance. The Meriweather Lewis campground is 200 miles north of that. Just perfect for folks like us who feel 200 miles a day is just about right for a day's travel. And... while neither have electric or other hook-ups, they are both free.... and located in beautiful wooded areas.
Occasionally you'll see farms, fields and other signs of "humans". The split-rail fences just add to the ambiance of the area. These horses were grazing in a rather lush pasture. You can see from the water puddle between the horses that they've had a lot of rain here lately.
There are many, many pull-overs... places you can actually walk in the "Old Trace"... maybe if you listen closely you can hear the sound of thousands of footsteps making their way on their journey. There are some very scenic views of waterfalls...
And if you want to take the time, you can walk to old mine shafts, historic buildings and other relics of the past.
Dogwood, bluets, fire pinks and violets.... some of the spring flowers we saw along the way.
We were on the Trace three full days... the first day we saw 2 turkeys and a deer; the second day we saw 3 turkeys, and as we drove north we saw more redbud in bloom as well as some beautiful azaleas and lots of dogwood. The third day was a bonanza for wildlife... over 20 turkeys over a 50 mile area, as well as 5 deer and even a bobcat.
We saw a few birds...
Lots of robins, (but not a good photo).... Notice, too, the tiny leaves starting to grow on this tree. Spring is such a great season and this drive showed it in all it's glory!
The further north, the more redbud...
Actually, we were in Kentucky (along the Bluegrass Parkway) when I took these photos. I don't think we ever saw a guardrail on the Trace... except for a few stone walls that served that purpose. After we got off the Trace onto the Interstates and then State Routes, the scenery was still bursting with "spring"!
Oh yes... I forgot to mention that we picked up a hitchhiker... well, two that we know of...
When we were still at Cameron Prairie NWR in Louisiana we'd hear frogs all evening long. They sure sounded close, but if I went outside to look, they'd immediately clam up. The night we stopped at the M. Lewis campground, Bill saw this guy clinging to the door of the rig. He was between the outside door and the screen door. We found a second one up on the ceiling fan... where the vent opens up to the outside. As they were hopping off into the woods, I bet they're still wondering how they got from Louisiana to Tennessee!
If you want to make time and get there in a hurry, the Trace is not for you. But if you have the time to take a trip back in history and feel some of the past, the Natchez Trace is just the place.
That's All For Today!