Natchez Trace Parkway – Northern Half

Natchez Trace Parkway

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444 mile drive through 3 states and centuries of history. Previously, we traveled from Natchez, MS to Tupelo, MS, covering the southern half of the parkway. This trip we drove from Nashville, TN (the terminus of the parkway) back down to Tupelo, MS.

Falls Hollow, Milepost 391.9

Compared to the southern half, the northern half offered more scenic opportunities, as well as pure natural beauty. Additionally, there are manmade aspects that are worth note including the Double Arch Bridge over Tennessee Hwy. 96 which won the 1995 Presidential Award for Design Excellence.

Birdsong Hollow, Double Arch Bridge, Milepost 438.0

You’ll also find historical points of interest, including the Gordon House Historic Site at Milepost 407.7. This is the site of an early 1800’s trading post, ferry and the Gordon family home dating back to 1818. A few miles down the road you’ll find amazing views at Baker Bluff Overlook (milepost 405.1) and the breathtaking Jackson Falls (milepost 404.7).

Gordon House Historic Site, Milepost 407.7
Part of Jackson Falls, Milepost 404.7

At Milepost 286.7 you’ll find Pharr Mounds, an ancient site with eight mounds built 1,800 to 2,000 years ago. At Milepost 308.8 is the Bear Creek Mound, a ceremonial mound built about 600 years ago.

Pharr Mounds, Milepost 286.7

The Meriwether Lewis gravesite can be found at milepost 385.9 and offers a campground, hiking trails, exhibits, picnic area, and restrooms. A man of historical significance, Meriwether Lewis was a co-leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the Governor of the Territory of Louisiana at the time of his death.

The Grinder House, site of Meriwether Lewis’ death in 1809, Milepost 385.9

There are so many things to see and do along the Natchez Trace Parkway, it’s easy stop at every point of interest along the trail. If you have time and are interested in the beauty and history you’ll see, I encourage you to drive the Natchez Trace Parkway at your earliest convenience. There was minimal traffic during our drive and plenty of opportunities to “stop and smell the roses”.

Falls Hollow, Milepost 391.9

Here is a list of all the stops along the northern half of the Natchez Trace Parkway (starting from Nashville, TN to the Parkway Visitor Center in Tupelo, MS):

  • Mile 444.0: Northern Terminus (At TN Hwy 100)
  • Mile 438.0: Birdsong Hollow (see note above)
  • Mile 427.6: Garrison Creek (Named for a nearby 1801-02 US Army Post)
  • Mile 426.3: War of 1812 Memorial/Old Trace: During this war, soldiers marched to and from battle along the Old Natchez Trace
  • Mile 425.4: Burns Branch (picnic area)
  • Mile 423.9: Tennessee Valley Divide: 1796 boundary between the new state of Tennessee and Chickasaw Nation to the south
  • Mile 411.8: Water Valley Overlook
  • Mile 407.7: Gordon House Historic Site (see note above)
  • Mile 405.1: Baker Bluff Overlook
  • Mile 404.7: Jackson Falls (steep trail to falls) MUST SEE
  • Mile 403.7: Old Trace (2000 foot section)
  • Mile 401.4: Tobacco Farm/Old Trace Drive (exhibits on tobacco growing, one way, two mile, partly paved drive along Old Trace)
  • Mile 400.2: Sheboss Place (stand/inn for travelers operated nearby in the 1800s)
  • Mile 397.4: Old Trace (boundary of Chickasaw lands ceded to US in 1805 and 1816)
  • Mile 394: Devil’s Backbone State Natural Area (hiking)
  • Mile 392.5: Swan View Overlook
  • Mile 391.9: Fall Hollow (short walk to falls) MUST SEE
  • Mile 390.7: Phosphate Mine (short walk by a historic phosphate mining site)
  • Mile 385.9: Meriwether Lewis (gravesite of explorer Meriwether Lewis, who died here in 1809. See other notes above)
  • Mile 382.8: Metal Ford (Old Trace crossing for Buffalo River; short trail)
  • Mile 381.8: Napier Mine (historic iron mine)
  • Mile 377.8: Jacks Branch (picnic area)
  • Mile 375.8: Old Trace Drive (one way, 2.5 mile drive along Old Trace)
  • Mile 367.3: Dogwood Mudhole (mudhole on the Old Trace was impassable to wagons after heavy rain)
  • Mile 364.5: Glenrock Branch (picnic area)
  • Mile 363.0: Sweetwater Branch (20 minute walk along stream with seasonal wildflowers)
  • Mile 352.9: McGlamery Stand (site of historic stand from the mid 1800s)
  • Mile 350.5: Sunken Trace (shows how Trace was rerouted to bypass mudholes)
  • Mile 346.2: Holly (picnic area)
  • Mile 343.5: Cypress Creek (picnic area)
  • Mile 341.8: Tennessee-Alabama state line
  • Mile 330.2: Rock Spring (20 minute walk along Colbert Creek)
  • Mile 328.7: Lauderdale (picnic area)
  • Mile 328.6-327.8: John Coffee Memorial Bridge (parkway’s longest bridge crosses the Tennessee River)
  • Mile 327.3: Colbert Ferry (Chickasaw George Colbert operated a stand and ferry in the early 1800s. Fishing, boat launch, bike-only campground)
  • Mile 320.3: Buzzard Roost Spring (site of historic stand)
  • Mile 317.0: Freedom Hills Overlook (steep, quarter-mile trails climbs to Alabama’s highest point on the parkway)
  • Mile 313.0: Bear Creek (picnic area)
  • Mile 308.9: Alabama-Mississippi state line
  • Mile 308.8: Bear Creek Mound (see note above)
  • Mile 308.4: Cave Spring (natural cave, probably used by Native Americans for water and stone)
  • Mile 304.5: Tishomingo State Park
  • Mile 293.4: Bay Springs Lake
  • Mile 293.2: Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and Jamie L. Whitten Bridge (waterway opens a navigable route between the Gulf of Mexico and the Tennessee River)
  • Mile 286.7: Pharr Mounds (see note above)
  • Mile 286.3: Browns Bottom (fishing, picnic area)
  • Mile 283.3: Donivan Slough
  • Mile 278.4: Twentymile Bottom Overlook
  • Mile 275.2: Dogwood Valley (short walk among dogwood trees)
  • Mile 269.4: Old Trace and Confederate Gravesites (short walk to graves of 13 unidentified Confederate soldiers)
  • Mile 266.0: Parkway Visitor Center and Headquarters

Thank you for stopping by! For more information on the Natchez Trace Parkway, visit any of the sites below:

History of the Natchez Trace Parkway

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile scenic highway that stretches from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee. This historic roadway was created by the Natchez Indians who initially blazed a trail that became known as the “Natchez Trace.” Over time, the Trace served as an important thoroughfare for Native Americans, settlers, and traders, carrying them through some of the most beautiful and treacherous terrain in the American South.

The Natchez Trace’s history goes back thousands of years. The Natchez Indians used the trail as a major trade route, connecting the Mississippi River with the Tennessee River. This trail became so significant that the French and Spanish colonial powers both attempted to claim it. Eventually, the United States gained control of the area in the early 1800s.

During the early 1800s, the Natchez Trace became a critical route for settlers moving westward. The Trace was the only viable land route between the Mississippi River and the Cumberland River, so thousands of people used it each year. However, it was also a treacherous route, filled with swamps, quicksand, and other hazards. Travelers were also at risk of being robbed or attacked by bandits or Native American tribes.

In the 1930s, the US government recognized the historical significance of the Natchez Trace and began efforts to preserve it. The National Park Service took control of the project in 1938 and began to develop the Natchez Trace Parkway. The idea was to create a scenic drive that followed the original path of the Natchez Trace while also preserving important historical sites along the way.

Construction of the Parkway began in the early 1940s and was completed in the late 1960s. The Parkway is a two-lane road that winds through some of the most beautiful scenery in the South, including forests, farmland, and wetlands. The Parkway is also dotted with historic sites and landmarks, including the gravesite of explorer Meriwether Lewis, the Emerald Mound Indian Site, and the Old Trace.

In addition to preserving history, the Natchez Trace Parkway has also become an important recreational destination. The Parkway offers opportunities for hiking, camping, fishing, and cycling, as well as other outdoor activities. The Parkway is also home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, raccoons, and foxes.

Today, the Natchez Trace Parkway is a beloved destination for locals and tourists alike. It attracts over 5 million visitors each year and is one of the most scenic drives in the United States. In 1983, the Parkway was designated as a National Scenic Byway and a National Park.

The Natchez Trace Parkway is not just a scenic road; it is a living monument to the history of the American South. It is a reminder of the hardships and dangers that early settlers and traders faced as they traveled through this region. It is also a tribute to the ingenuity and perseverance of the Natchez Indians, who first blazed this trail thousands of years ago.

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