Monday, March 19, 2018

Natchez Trace – Mile 327.8 to Mile 444.0


Mile 327  Colbert Ferry – George Colbert, who was three-fourths Chickasaw and one quarter Scottish, owned a ferry, inn, and a substantial plantation along the Tennessee River. He died in 1839 at age 75 after the Chickasaw were forced to move to Oklahoma. Drive to overlook as trails are not accessible.



Mile 375.8  Old Trace Drive – 2.5 mile drive along the old trace. One of the few places where RVs are prohibited.


Mile 382.8  Metal Ford – Slag pile and evidence of mill race from 1820 charcoal burning furnace used to manufacture pig iron. Short trail is not accessible.



Mile 385.9   Meriwether Lewis Campground and Gravesite – Meriwether Lewis, famous from the Lewis and Clark Expedition, stayed overnight at this location in 1809. He was found in his room on October 11, dead from a gunshot wound, and there’s still debate about whether it was a murder or suicide.  A memorial marks his burial site. A small reconstructed cabin has exhibits. A short, hard surfaced and accessible trail leads to a section of the trace.




A free campground has 32 sites with paved parking pads, tables and fire rings. The accessible site has concrete under the table and is close to the restroom.


Mile 391.9    Falls Hollow – Small scenic waterfall. A short paved trail leads to an overlook. The trail has a steep section and is accessible with assistance.



Mile 401.1  Tobacco Farm – Old barn with interpretive signs about tobacco farming and processing.


Mile 405.1  Bakers Bluff Overlook – Pretty view of the valley farms.


Mile 444.0  Northern Terminus – We were expecting a little more but this is it. Just a gate ready to be swung shut if the road is snowy or icy.


In conclusion – We really enjoyed driving along the trace and learning a bit of the history.  We drive slowly and didn’t get started each day until after lunch so it took us seven days to drive the trace. We stayed at three campgrounds on the trace, one campground slightly off of the trace, and in Walmart lots at Jackson and Tupelo. We stopped and read every sign and tried to see the sights that required a short walk but were disappointed at the lack of wheelchair accessibility. Most of the short trails were made years ago and haven’t been upgraded.   Trace  34.8361, -87.94272


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Natchez Trace – Mile 193.1 to Mile 320


 Mile 221.4   Old Trace – Even though the trace hasn’t been used since the 1880s there are still sections like this where it’s easy to imagine the travelers trudging along and creating a depression.



Mile 232.4   Bynum Mounds -  A paved path makes a loop past two burial mounds that are about 2,000 years old. Four people, most likely royalty, were buried in the mounds. The path is accessible.


Mile 261.8  Chickasaw Village Site – Concrete paths follow the foundation lines of a fort and three houses that were in use into the early 1800s. The paths are not connected so the site is not wheelchair accessible.


Mile 266.0   Parkway Visitor Center - The only interpretive center along the trace with exhibits covering the history and geology of the entire route.


Mile 269.4  Confederate Gravesites -  Graves of 13 unknown Confederate soldiers. Nothing is know of the circumstances of their deaths and how they came to be buried here. Paved accessible path.


Mile 286.7  Pharr Mounds – The largest archeological site in northern Mississippi. Eight burial mounds used between 1-200 AD.


Mile 293.2   Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway – The waterway  connects the Tennessee River to the Tombigbee River. This shortcut was first proposed in the mid 1770s by Sieur de Bienville, the founder of Mobile, but not constructed until 1985. Short, paved accessible trail with a few rough spots.


Mile 308.4  Cave Spring – Small cave probably used by Native Americans as a source of water and building stone. Short, paved trail to overlook.IMG_0773


Mile 308.8   Bear Creek Mound - Village site was occupied as early as 8,000 B.C. and a temple sat on top of the large flat mound.


Mile 320  Side Trip – The trace campgrounds do not have dump stations so we looped off the trace to spend the night at Rose Trail County Park Campground. The campground has four spurs that all dead end in turnarounds. Two are full hookup; one has water, electricity, and a dump station; and one appears to be a tent camping area. There are only two restrooms and many of the sites lack tables. None of the sites are designated as accessible but most are useable. 


Trace  33.41752, -89.26746


Saturday, March 17, 2018

Natchez Trace – Mile 54.8 to 193.1

 Mile 88.1   Cowles Mead Cemetery – Politician and plantation owner who died in 1849 and is buried in this small cemetery. Short accessible trail.
Mile 105.6  Reservoir Overlook – Early travelers wouldn’t recognize this section of the trace. The trace and road follow almost the same path but the early travelers would have been deep in the woods instead of on the shoreline of this large reservoir.
Mile 106.9  Boyd Site – Native American burial mounds from the Late Woodland and Early Mississippian periods (circa 800 to 1100 A.D)
Mile 122.0  Cypress Swamp – Half mile walk through tupelo and cypress swamp. Not accessible due to steps but can be viewed from parking lot.
Mile 175.6  Cole Creek Trail – Short walk through hardwood forest and tupelo/cypress swamp. Not accessible due to steps but can be viewed from parking lot.
Mile 193.1  Jeff Busby Campground -  18 site free campground with restrooms and tables. Accessible site has an accessible table and is near the restroom. This is the only campground of the three on the trace that filled during our trip. Drive to the end of the road for a view from one of the highest points in Mississippi – 603 feet! :-D 
Trace  32.08881, -90.79928

Friday, March 16, 2018

Natchez Trace - Mile 0 to Mile 54.8

  Before starting a drive along the trace stop at the Natchez Visitor Center and pick up the Natchez Trace Parkway map published by the national park service. The map has every stop marked along with a short description and the exact mileage from the southern end. The road itself has brown mileage posts marking each mile so by following along with the map it’s easy to see exactly where you are.  I’m going to post the more interesting sites since there are over 100 places to stop and see along the way.

Mile 5.1  Elizabeth Female Academy Site – The first school of higher learning for women in Mississippi. Founded in 1818 and closed in 1845 when the capital moved to Jackson. A short, paved, and accessible trail leads to the school ruins.
 Mile 10.3   Emerald Mound – The second largest temple mound built in the US. Built and used from 1300 – 1600. The opening in the gate is not wide enough for wheelchairs.The paved trail to the top is very steep.
Mile 12.4   Loess Bluff – Fine soil blown south from the plains and deposited in Mississippi during the ice ages. Loess is very fertile but easily eroded.
Mile 15.5   Mount Locust Plantation and Inn - built in 1780 and the only surviving inn of more than 50 built along the trace. A paved accessible trail leads to a view of the simple plantation house which is not accessible due to steps.
  Detour! The Windsor Ruins is a must stop. This is the antebellum mansion that Sherman DIDN’T burn.  It was accidently burnt in 1890 and the only things left are the concrete and brick columns and iron railings. It would cost almost 5 million dollars to build today. The road to the mansion was closed at the southern end so we went to Port Gibson and took Carroll Street to Rodney Road to get to the mansion ruins from the north. Parking area is large enough for RVs.
Mile 54.8  Rocky Springs Campground and Old Town Site- Free 22 site campground with paved parking pads and restrooms. Most of the sites are pull through and large enough for any RV. The accessible site has concrete under the table which has an extended top.
   The town site has a packed gravel trail to a church built in 1837 and still in use today. Another trail winds through the town site and past a couple of old safes. The trail to the church overlooks ravines caused by poor farming practices. The church trail is accessible with assistance. The town trail is not accessible.
Trace  31.54599, -91.36809