This last weekend took us along the Tennessee part of the Natchez Trace Parkway. This parkway is a 444 mile stretch that begins up around Nashville and continues down through Mississippi.
The Natchez Trace is a parkway built to follow an old trail that has been used for centuries by first the Native Americans and then later explorers, traders and emigrants. Originally this trail followed a geologic ridge line where animals would follow the dry ground of the trail to grazing lands. The Native Americans followed the bison that used the trail. As the Native Americans settled on the land along the trail, the path became a well-established trail of communities. Later on, when explorers from Europe came, they found the Trace was not only the best way to traverse that part of the country but was also important for trading with the Native Americans. Settlements along the Trace, called stands, began to flourish until the Natchez Trace was one of the most popular routes to live on.
We started out just outside of Nashville and drove along the Natchez Trace parkway. We got to ride across the top of the Double Arch Bridge that spans the area of Birdsong Hollow.
Sadly, this trip did not include the whole of the Natchez Trace Parkway. But one day soon we will follow the path all the way down to Mississippi. For this trip, we were heading to the Natchez Trace State Park. We then cut across some incredible fields full of goldenrod and clover that have been in bloom for the last couple of weeks. The yellow and red colors there in the fields were just beautiful.
We arrived at the park and pulled up to Cabin 15. One of our goals when we moved to Tennessee was to see every state park. We have seen about half of them. But this would be the first time we have stayed in a cabin in one of the parks. Our cabin sat right on the water’s edge where we could hear some very talkative bullfrogs croaking merrily to each other.
We spent a lot of time enjoying what the park had to offer. We really loved the series of long bridges crossing over the water. In the middle of the bridge is a raised area where canoes and kayaks can pass under. We were hoping to rent some kayaks and take to the water. But they don’t open up until the end of May. Putting that on our list for next time we come here.
This state park is really large but because it follows the serpentine path of the water everything seems out of the way of each other. This park has a lodge and restaurant. It also has a group of small cabins and a few camping areas. And when all the services are up and running you can go horseback riding at their stables or go to the shooting range.
The park does have a swimming area that is roped off with a section of shallow water for younger visitors. The small beach area is probably the place where everyone goes when they come to the park. As we were leaving, we passed 3 bigger groups of people heading to the beach area. It made me glad that we had come and enjoyed before they got there.
Hiking in the spring is always a delight. The fresh green leaves coming out all along the trails and the first blooms of the flowers. Tennessee is a wonderful place to enjoy the springtime.
There is another section of the park where you can see the destruction caused by a tornado that hit down here a couple of years ago. Miles of the park is covered in uprooted trees and branches strewn everywhere. You can see the first signs of new life coming back through the debris of branches, but it will be years before this section is anything like what it was before.
It was a peaceful weekend and a much-needed respite from the busy that we have had lately. We played a lot of cards, went on a lot of walks, and enjoyed the cold water as much as we could. And we got to check off one more state park and see a small part of the Trace. Overall, I would say the weekend was a success.
Need some other great state parks to visit? Then you may want to consider these other Tennessee state parks:
Thank you for coming along with me today on a visit to Natchez Trace State Park!