The 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway follows the route of an historic trail full of great stories, history, and culture. Beginning in Natchez, Mississippi and ending in Nashville, Tennessee, “The Trace” connects many cities and attractions across Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.
I spent three weeks driving The Trace from Natchez to Nashville one spring. It was my first time driving the second longest parkway in the National Park Service. Here are some of my favorite photos I captured during my first adventure on The Trace.
Just a few miles along the Natchez Trace Parkway I came to the Emerald Mound. It’s one of the many Native American burial grounds along The Trace. I didn’t walk to the top because, despite the well-worn path, I wasn’t actually sure if I should.
The Mount Locust Inn was a popular stop a long, long time ago. Travelers along the Old Trace would stop here to spend a night and get a hot meal. Today, it’s the site of a visitor center and the old inn is open to walk through.
I knew long before traveling the Natchez Trace Parkway that the Sunken Trace was one of the most-photographed places on the entire 444-mile drive. It’s a short section of the Old Trace that has sunken deep into the ground from decades of foot traffic.
River Bend Overlook (pictured above and below) was almost a perfectly peaceful place to take a break from driving. I was enjoying lily pads floating across the river’s surface when suddenly the peace was broken by boats jetting across the water with rafters in tow. At least they were having loads of fun!
Cypress Swamp was one of my favorite places on the Natchez Trace Parkway. It may sound strange to know a swamp was top of the list, but the boardwalk crossing the swamp between giant tupelo trees was simply amazing.
French Camp was the most surprising discovery on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Beautiful historic buildings to explore. A cafe with really great food. You could even spend a night in one of the rustic log cabins!
Just after leaving Tupelo behind I found these Confederate soldiers’ graves hidden on a short spur road. It was peaceful, almost eerily quiet. And I don’t know who planted the American flags.
Pharr Mounds were quite far from the Natchez Trace Parkway, but I could still see them with a telephoto lens. These were the last burial grounds I passed on The Trace.
Somebody decided to take a break from jet skiing along the Tennessee River at Colbert Ferry Park. I never did find the rider, but I sure did enjoy that view for a while. A long while.
Tom’s Wall, as it is locally known, was an iconic stop along the Natchez Trace Parkway in Alabama. Took a bit to find it; it’s located just off The Trace and there isn’t any official parking. I took a walk through the paths lined with thousands of stones and it was unlike any place I’d ever visited before.
The Meriwether Lewis Memorial is one of the most intriguing I’ve ever seen. The memorial stands in a field near the inn where the famed explorer was mysteriously killed. The top of the memorial was left incomplete, signifying his life being cut short.
I visited Metal Ford early on a Saturday morning to find a father and son unpacking their gear beside the river. They were going fishing in a canoe! Half an hour later they were floating down the river while I comfortably snoozed on dry land.
The Gordon House Historic Site was an interesting stop, but ultimately disappointing. I walked around the gorgeous two-story brick home but apparently it’s never open for people to explore.
The Double Arch Bridge. Long before arriving at the north end of the Natchez Trace Parkway minutes from Nashville I had heard of this bridge. I had seen pictures of the bridge. But while everyone else wanted a picture from ground level, I opted to park at the end and walk across the bridge for a completely different angle.
This was my final experience on the Natchez Trace Parkway. I want to do it all over again.