Top Ten U.S. Road Biking Routes

Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi
Portion of the original Natchez Trace Trail
The new Natchez Trace Parkway stays faithful to the path of the original Natchez Trace Trail (NPS)

The American South was once home to great tribes of native people whose need to move through the wilds—in search of food, water, peace and solitude, friendship—was hindered most by the environment in which they lived. A full canopy of trees hung over great portions of this land and navigation meant sluicing through thick underbrush.

Despite the challenges, over the years, these people - the Natchez, Chickasaw, and Choctaw Indians—strung together hunting paths until there was a true trail from Mississippi all the way to Tennessee. First the 18th-century French found it, then the itinerant Ohio River Valley farmer merchants. As traffic increased, so did the ease of travel along the trail, virtually a road by 1810. Since 1930, the National Park Service has been constructing a paved thruway that stays faithful to the course of the original trail. Nearly complete, there is now an unhurried 442-mile strip between Natchez, Mississippi, and Nashville, Tennessee.

Cycling along the Natchez Trace Parkway is a treat. Peppered with bicycle-only campgrounds, convenient places for service and maintenance stops, and clear directions available for bypasses in some of the more congested areas (like Jackson, Mississippi), this is a byway with everything that cyclists of all skill levels could want.

Heading south, pick up the Parkway off Tennessee Route 100 before Linton and Fairview, then just follow signs. For good information about cycling along the Parkway and for a Parkway map, write to U.S. Department of Interior, National Park Service, Natchez Trace Parkway, 2680 Natchez Trace Parkway, Tupelo, MS 38801.



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