The Natchez Trace was used by Native Americans for centuries as a travel and trade route between villages however large numbers of European Americans didn’t use the trace until the early 1800s when President Thomas Jefferson put the Army to work blazing and widening it. When finished the trace was wide enough for a wagon and connected Nashville, Tennessee to the Mississippi River at Natchez. It was used by emigrants, slave traders, preachers, and armies but the most well know travelers were the "Kaintucks”, farmers and boatmen from the Ohio River regions of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky, who floated their whiskey, tobacco, corn, wheat, and other crops down to Natchez. After selling their cargo, they sold their log rafts for the lumber and began the 444 mile trip north to Nashville on foot or horseback, stopping at rustic inns which had been established every 10 to 15 miles along the trace.
Steamboats and railroads put an end to heavy travel along the trace and it had almost disappeared by the 1930s. The CCC began working on a road that closely followed the trace after President Roosevelt signed the legislation for its creation in 1938 but it wasn’t completely finished as a continuous road until 2005. The road is smooth two lane with a 50 mph speed limit and little traffic. Restrictions for RVs are 55 feet in length including a tow vehicle, 14 feet in height , and 40,000 pounds in weight. A few more restrictions are listed here. Most of the turn outs are small but RVs will fit except on busy days.
The scenery is of forest and fields, pretty but not as spectacular as some other scenic byways. Turn outs with historic signs, Indian mounds, short trails, and historic sites are frequent. There are three small campgrounds – no hookups and no fee.
We’ve decided to drive the entire route from south to north following the trail of the “ Kaintucks” to Nashville. In the past we’ve always spotted something interesting off of the trace and then didn’t get back on after our detour so it’ll be a challenge. :- D I’ll post the first section tomorrow since this post is kind of long already. Trace 31.54599, -91.36809