Monday, May 25, 2015

Natchez Trace Parkway

Back in 2012 I was on a lengthy motorcycle tour and had planned to ride the Natchez Trace Parkway near the back end of the 12,500 mile journey. The Trace is a nicely paved parkway that runs 444 miles from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee, with a small stretch in Alabama.

Essentially, the Trace is a scenic roadway that was built by the National Parks Service to track (.. or Trace ..) a historical trail that had been regularly used by Native Americans and Early Settlers over a period of nearly 10,000 years. There are many historically significant stops along the Trace, no commercial traffic allowed and a 50 mph speed limit it's entire length.

Unfortunately, I had to cut the Trace out of my 2012 travels when my legs started to give out after 36 days in the saddle. Two years later I decided to pick it up on the back end of my recent North Carolina trip, this time riding it from the Northern point in Nashville down to Natchez.

After the North Carolina rides, I took the fast route from Waynesville, North Carolina over to south Nashville to pick up the trace. Since it was only a 4 hour trek, I decide to start my ride down the Trace, making it as far as Tupello, Mississippi.

The roads were amazingly clean and the traffic was mostly minimal. I ran the road at mostly 55 mph which was a nice pace to enjoy both the road and the scenery.

During my North Carolina trip the previous week, I'd spent a half day on the Indian Reservation in Cherokee. While disappointed with the commercialization in Cherokee, I found a tremendous level of Native American Culture along the Trace. I particularly enjoyed stopping at each of the Indian Burial Mounds.

There were also countless natural streams and rivers.

If you're not in a hurry, the Natchez Trace Parkway is a nice two-day ride that covers a good distance. It could take longer if you stop at everything there is to see along the way or shorter if you just want to knock out miles without all the hassle on the highways. It certainly was a great way to wrap the loop on this trip that included seven states and almost 3,000 total miles. I'll likely ride the Trace again someday.

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