As we planned our Natchez Trace trip, I read many other blogger’s posts about their trips which immensely helped our planning! I would like to acknowledge and thank the following for their help in making our trip a success:
My favorite Natchez Trace blogger is Michael Harley! His posts about his Natchez Trace Parkway adventure were honest and funny. I love the straight-forward style of his blog and his writing!
Randy Fought’s compilation of information about the Natchez Trace Parkway was invaluable! His site is Natchez Trace Travel.
I loved reading Russ and Laura’s A Path Less Pedaled‘ post. They had a more stormy ride than we did and were camping, which made their trip a little different than ours.
Here is our Cue-Sheet. We compiled it using information from the National Park Service, Natchez Trace Travel, and Google Maps. You are welcome to use it, but we caution that information changes quickly (see our Getting There post!). Use at your own risk!
We are almost there! After a great breakfast at Creekview Farm Retreat, we headed out to finish eight days of riding! We were blessed with eight days of sunshine, high temperatures in the mid-80s, and miles of nature’s beauty.
We rode a total of 47 miles today. It was only 14 miles to our car at Garrison Creek rest area where we dropped off our luggage rack and pack, then we rode on to the end of the Trace. We were happy to find the car just as we had left it; you’re never completely confident that things will be the way you left them!
The big events for today’s ride were crossing the Mississippi-Alabama state line, then about twenty-one miles later, crossing the Alabama-Tennessee state line. Just before crossing the MS-AL line, we stopped at the Cave Spring nature area and were pleasantly surprised by the beauty. While there, we talked with a recumbent-cyclist who was occasionally riding, but was also driving a support vehicle for a group of cyclists from Jackson, MS. I did a better job of stopping to take pictures of pretty countryside on today’s ride!
Today was a more eventful day than the last, but it was a long day of riding–82 miles! The roads were a little more hilly, which was a good thing, too. We saw more wildlife: turkeys, deer, and snakes!
I almost had a very close encounter with a very large snake. Oscar was riding ahead and I saw him veer around something in the road. At about the same time, in my rearview mirror, I saw a car approaching from behind, then realized that a very long, very big, very alive snake was on the right side of the road. I had to make a quick decision…did I want to tangle with the snake or risk the car not changing lanes?! I decided that I would take my chances with the car, veered around the snake, and thankfully, the car changed lanes and veered around me! Whew!
Today was our short day; we rode a total of 54 not-quite-so-flat miles. Eight of the miles were through an area that had significant tornado damage in 2011. The trees were clipped off like a huge lawn mower had taken off the tops. During the day we met five cyclists going south. Oscar had a coyote run across the road in front of him and we saw lots of dead snakes in the road. One thing about traveling by bicycle is that you go slow enough to notice things that you miss when riding in a car. Crossing bridges is interesting, particularly when you cross pretty dirt roads, streams, or railroads.
After our night in the hotel, we headed back to the Trace. Our third day ended up being a very flat ride with a headwind almost all day. I am not a fan of flats; I like a little coasting time and on flats you just don’t get any! During this day, we saw no other cyclists and saw few animals (other than birds). We did see a field with five or six hog traps, but no hogs.
We started our second day on the Trace by hiking back up the embankment to the overpass on the Trace. We used ALL of our muscles on this trip!
There are historic markers and nature trails all along the Natchez Trace Parkway with NPS restrooms/water at fairly regular intervals. After stopping at several nature trails to read the signs, we decided that we would not necessarily stop at those since sometimes all they tell you is something like, “Plants need water.” But, we would enjoy the experience by stopping to check out historic signs and sights. Sometimes those were just about as silly, since many of the signs tell you “somewhere near here, sometime, something happened,” but we decided those were worth the risk. We made a quick stop at the shaded Cowles Mead Cemetery. Cowles Mead was an acting territorial governor at the beginning of the 1800’s.