The Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail lies within the boundaries of the Natchez Trace Parkway, extending for 450 miles from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee. The most historic in nature of the National Scenic Trails, the Parkway commemorates the historic Natchez Trace, an ancient path that began as a Native American trail.
Trail at a Glance
Length: 440 miles.
Route: Historic trading route between Nashville and Natchez.
Highlights: Sunken footpaths, Indian mounds, lush Southern scenery.
Completion: 14%. This trail will probably never be serious footpath.
Hiker Purity: Roadwalkers only need apply.
The trace was later used by early explorers,”Kaintuck” boatmen, post riders, and military men, including General Andrew Jackson after his victory at the Battle of New Orleans. Farmers would float their produce down the Mississippi River, sell their flatboats for lumber, then walk home via the trace. For a time, this was the busiest trail in the “Old Southwest.” Near the trace’s southern terminus, thousands of footprints compacted a groove 12 feet deep in places. Portions of the trace later developed in county and postal roads.
This trail may never be a serious footpath. Only fifty percent of the original trace lay within the parkway corridor when it was created in 1938. 85% of that was destroyed by roadbuilding, leaving only 7.5% of the original trace on protected National Park Service land. However, several through-hikers have had a good time roadwalking the parkway, which is totally unlike the turnpike-like parkways of the northeast. Think mellow country road, and you’re close to the truth.