Natchez Trace Parkway

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Natchez Trace Parkway

Natchez Trace Parkway highlighted in brown
Route information
Maintained by NPS
Length444 mi[1] (715 km)
ExistedMay 18, 1938 (1938-May-18)[2] –present
RestrictionsNo trucks
Major junctions
South endLiberty Road in Natchez, MS
Major intersections
North end SR 100 in Nashville, TN
CountryUnited States
Highway system
  • Alabama State Highway System

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a national parkway in the southeastern United States that commemorates the historic Natchez Trace and preserves sections of that original trail. Its central feature is a two-lane road that extends 444 miles (715 km) from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee. Access to the parkway is limited, with more than fifty access points in the states of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. The southern end of the route is in Natchez at its intersection with Liberty Road, and the northern end is northeast of Fairview, Tennessee, in the suburban community of Pasquo, at an intersection with Tennessee State Route 100. In addition to Natchez and Nashville, larger cities along the route include Jackson and Tupelo, Mississippi, and Florence, Alabama.[3][4]


The road is maintained by the National Park Service and has been designated an All-American Road. Commercial traffic is prohibited along the entire route, and the speed limit is 50 miles per hour (80 km/h), except north of Leiper's Fork, Tennessee, and Ridgeland, Mississippi, where the speed limit is reduced to 40 miles per hour (64 km/h). The total area of the Parkway is 51,746.50 acres (209.4 km2), of which 51,680.64 acres (209.1 km2) are federal, and 65.86 acres (0.3 km2) are non-federal.

The Parkway is headquartered in Tupelo and has nine district offices: Leipers Fork, Meriwether Lewis, Cherokee, Tupelo, Dancy, Kosciusko, Ridgeland, Port Gibson, and Natchez. The Parkway also manages two battlefields: Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield Site and Tupelo National Battlefield.[5]



The gentle sloping and curving alignment of the current route closely follows the original foot passage. Its design harkens back to the way the original interweaving trails aligned as an ancient salt-lick-to-grazing-pasture migratory route of the American bison and other game that moved between grazing the pastures of central and western Mississippi and the salt and other mineral surface deposits of the Cumberland Plateau. The route generally traverses the tops of the low hills and ridges of the watershed divides from northeast to southwest.

Native Americans, following the "traces" of bison and other game, further improved this walking trail for foot-borne commerce between major villages located in central Mississippi and middle Tennessee. The route is locally circuitous; however, by traversing this route the bison, and later humans, avoided the endless, energy-taxing climbing and descending of the many hills along the way. Also avoided was the danger to a herd (or groups of human travelers) of being caught en-masse at the bottom of a hollow or valley if attacked by predators. The nature of the route, to this day, affords good all-around visibility for those who travel it. At all times the road is on the high ground of the ridge dividing the watersheds and provides a view to either see or catch the scent of danger, from a distance great enough to afford the time to flee to safety, if necessary.

Old Natchez Trace sign southwest of Mathiston, Mississippi

By the time of European exploration and settlement, the route had become well known and established as the fastest means of communication between the Cumberland Plateau, the Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico settlements of Pensacola, Mobile, and New Orleans. In the early post-American Revolutionary War period of America's (south) westward expansion, the Trace was the return route for American flat-boat commerce between the territories of the upper and lower Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland River valleys. The Americans constructed flat-boats, loaded their commerce therein, and drifted upon those rivers, one-way south-southwestward to New Orleans, Louisiana. They would then sell their goods (including the salvageable logs of the flat-boats and including enslaved people), and return home via the Trace (for the middle section of their return trip), to as far away as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Improved communications (steam boats, stagecoach lines, and railroads) and the development of ports along the rivers named above (e.g., Natchez; Memphis, Tennessee; Paducah, Kentucky; Nashville, Tennessee; and Louisville, Kentucky) made the route obsolete as a means of passenger and freight commerce. As a result, no major population centers were born or developed along the Trace, because of its alignment, between its termini Nashville and Natchez. The two cities of note, near or on the Trace's alignment (Jackson, Mississippi and Tupelo, Mississippi), developed only as a result of their alignment along axes of communication different from the Trace.

Thus the Trace and its alignment are today almost entirely undeveloped and unspoiled along its whole route. Many sections of the original footpath are visible today for observing and hiking the Parkway's right-of-way.

The Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail includes five sections of hiking and horse riding trails.

Civilian Conservation Corps

Entrance sign to the parkway near Natchez, Mississippi

Construction of the Parkway was begun by the federal government in the 1930s. The development of the modern roadway was one of the many projects of the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. The road was the proposal of U.S. Congressman T. Jeff Busby of Mississippi, who proposed it as a way to give tribute to the original Natchez Trace. Inspired by the proposal, the Daughters of the American Revolution began planting markers and monuments along the Trace. In 1934, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration ordered a survey. President Roosevelt signed the legislation to create the parkway on May 18, 1938.[5] Construction on the Parkway began in 1939, and the route was to be overseen by the National Park Service. Its length includes more than 45,000 acres (182 km2) and the towering Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge in Williamson County, Tennessee, completed in 1994 and one of only two post-tensioned, segmental concrete arch bridges in the world.

The Emergency Appropriations Act of June 19, 1934, allocated initial construction funds and established it as a parkway under National Park Service by the act of May 18, 1938.

Gaps and completion

The Natchez Trace Parkway seen from Twentymile Bottom Overlook, milepost 278.4, about 20 miles northeast of Tupelo, MS.

For many years in the later 20th century, most of the trace had been complete but, owing to a lack of funds, two gaps remained, both in the state of Mississippi. One was a several-mile-long bypass of Jackson, between Interstate 55 at Ridgeland and Interstate 20 at Clinton. The other was between Liberty Road in the city of Natchez and U.S. Highway 61 near Washington. These final two segments were finally completed and opened on May 21, 2005.

In 2013 a new law required the National Park Service (NPS) to convey about 67 acres of property in the Natchez Trace Parkway to the State of Mississippi. It also adjusted the boundaries of the parkway to include 10 additional acres. The two pieces of land in question originally belonged to Mississippi and were donated to the National Park Service when the NPS was trying to determine where to end the Natchez Trace Parkway.[6][7][8]

Historical sites

Captain John Gordon's house on the site where the Natchez Trace crosses the Duck River. Originally a ferry operated by Gordon and Chickasaw Chief William Colbert was located here. Gordon and his wife built this Federal style plantation home which is one of the oldest structures along the trace.

There are numerous historical sites on the Parkway, including the Meriwether Lewis Museum, the refurbished Mount Locust stand, Historic French Camp, MS, and the Mississippi Craft Center in Ridgeland, Mississippi, which focuses on promoting Mississippi's native art. Between the Parkway and Old Port Gibson Road is the ghost town of Rocky Springs that thrived in the late 19th century. The old Rocky Springs Methodist Church, the cemetery, and several building sites still exist and are accessible from the Parkway. Cypress Swamp is located at Mile Post 122. There are also several cascading waterfalls to view; for access, some require a bit of hiking from the parkway. Besides, parts of the original trail are still accessible. The history of the Natchez Trace, including the Parkway, is summarized at the Natchez Trace Visitor Center in Tupelo, Mississippi.[9]

Emerald Mound, the second largest Native American ceremonial mound in the United States, is located just west of the Trace and north of Highway 61 near Natchez. It offers a unique look at the ingenuity and industry of native culture. Two smaller mounds rise from the top of the main mound and rise above treetops offering a wide view. Travelers can reach Emerald Mound with a five-minute detour from the main trace highway. Emerald Mound measures 770 feet (230 m) by 435 feet (133 m) at the base and is 35 feet (11 m) in height. The mound was built by depositing earth along the sides of a natural hill, thus reshaping it and creating an enormous artificial plateau.

The Ackia Battleground National Monument (established August 27, 1935 and now called Chickasaw Village) and Meriwether Lewis Park (proclaimed as Meriwether Lewis National Monument February 6, 1925 and transferred from the War Department August 10, 1933) were added to the parkway by the act of August 10, 1961.

Parkway highlights

Highlights include:

Natchez to Jackson

Jackson to Tupelo

Tupelo to Tennessee state line


  • Milepost 385.9 Meriwether Lewis Monument and Grave Site
  • 391.9 Fall Hallow Trail
  • 401.4 Tobacco Farm and Old Trace Drive
  • 404.7 Trail to Jackson Falls and Baker Bluff Overlook
  • 438 Bridge at Birdsong Hollow

Exit list

Mileage based on physical mileposts along the parkway.

MississippiAdamsNatchez00.0Liberty RoadSouthern terminus
46.4Elizabeth Female Academy
813 US 61 – Fayette, NatchezPartial cloverleaf interchange
Old Trace Exhibit
1016 MS 553 – Emerald Mound site, Natchez State ParkAt-grade intersection
Jefferson1219Turpin Creek
Loess Bluff
1524Mount Locust
1727Coles Creek
1829Bullen Creek
2032 MS 553 – Natchez Trace Trail (Potkopinu Section), FayetteOne-quadrant interchange
Mud Island
2337North Fork Coles Creek
3048 MS 552 – Windsor Ruins, Lorman, Alcorn State UniversityTwo-quadrant interchange
Claiborne3760 US 61 – Port GibsonOne-quadrant interchange
3963Port Gibson District Office
4166 MS 18 – Port Gibson, Utica, Grand Gulf Military State ParkOne-quadrant interchange
Sunken Trace
4572Grindstone Ford and Mangum Mound
5284Owens Creek Waterfall
5487Rocky Springs
5995Fisher Ferry Road – UticaOne-quadrant interchange
6198Lower Choctaw Boundary
Hinds66106 MS 27 – Utica, VicksburgOne-quadrant interchange
73117Dean Stand Site
78126Battle of Raymond
MS 467 – Raymond, EdwardsOne-quadrant interchange
82132 Airport Road – John Bell Williams Airport
86138Clinton Pullout
I-20 – Vicksburg, Clinton, JacksonPartial cloverleaf interchange; I-20 exit 34
87140Cowles Mead Cemetery
88142Pinehaven Drive – City of Clinton Visitor CenterOne-quadrant interchange
89143Ridgeland Pullout
US 49 – Flora, JacksonPartial cloverleaf interchange
93150Osburn Stand
MadisonRidgeland100160Choctaw Agency
101163 I-55 – Madison, JacksonPartial cloverleaf interchange; I-55 exit 105A
102164 US 51 – Parkway Information CabinOne-quadrant interchange
Ridgeland District Office
103166 Old Canton Road – Madison, Ridgeland, Bruce Campbell FieldPartial cloverleaf interchange
104167Old Trace and Brashears Stand Site
105169Reservoir Overlook
106171Boyd site
107172West Florida Boundary
MS 43 – Canton, Pelahatchie, Ross Barnett ReservoirTwo-quadrant interchange
122196Cypress Swamp
River Bend
128206Upper Choctaw Boundary
MS 16 – Canton, CarthageTwo-quadrant interchange
135217Robinson Road
140230Red Dog Road
145233Myrick Creek
146235 MS 429 – ThomastownAt-grade intersection
Attala154248Holly Hill
159256Kosciusko District Office
MS 19 – Kosciusko, CarthageTwo-quadrant interchange
Kosciusko Welcome Center
164264Hurricane Creek
165266 MS 12 – Ethel, KosciuskoTwo-quadrant interchange
169272CR 2247 to CR 2101One-quadrant interchange
175282Cole Creek
176283Bethel Mission
ChoctawFrench Camp180290French Camp South

MS 413 to MS 407
At-grade intersection
French Camp
181291French Camp North
189304Byway Overlook
190310 MS 415Northern terminus of MS 415
193311Jeff Busby
195314 MS 9 – Choctaw Lake Recreation Area, Eupora, AckermanOne-quadrant interchange
198319Old Trace
201323Ballard Creek
203327Pigeon Roost
Webster204328 US 82 – Eupora, MathistonPartial cloverleaf interchange
MS 765 to MS 50
Western terminus of MS 765
213343Line Creek
214344 MS 15 – Maben, HoustonOne-quadrant interchange
Dancy District Office
Clay219352 MS 46 – Mantee, MontpelierOne-quadrant interchange
Chickasaw221356Old Trace
226364 MS 389 – Houston, MontpelierOne-quadrant interchange
229369 MS 8 – Houston, AberdeenOne-quadrant interchange
232373Bynum Mounds
233375Witch Dance
235378Old Fossils
239385 MS 32 – Houston, OkolonaOne-quadrant interchange
241388Chickasaw Agency
243391 CR 413 – Owl Creek MoundsOne-quadrant interchange
Hernando de Soto
245394Monroe Mission
Pontotoc246396 MS 41 – Pontotoc, OkolonaOne-quadrant interchange
251404Chickasaw Council House
LeePontocola Road – Pontotoc, ShannonOne-quadrant interchange
252406Black Belt Overlook
255410Palmetto Road – Pontotoc, VeronaOne-quadrant interchange
256412 US 278 / MS 6Partial cloverleaf interchange
Tupelo258415 Cliff Gookin Boulevard – Tupelo High SchoolTwo-quadrant interchange
Main Street – Tupelo, Pontotoc, Tupelo National BattlefieldTwo-quadrant interchange
261420Chickasaw Village Site
262422 MS 178 (McCullough Boulevard) – Elvis Presley BirthplaceTwo-quadrant interchange
263423 I-22 / US 78 – Tupelo, Fulton, New Albany, Tombigbee State Park, Elvis Presley LakePartial cloverleaf interchange; I-22 exit 85
Old Town Overlook
Parkway Visitor Center
266428 MS 145 – Tupelo, CorinthTwo-quadrant interchange
269433Old Trace and Confederate Gravesites
270430 MS 363 – Saltillo, MantachieTwo-quadrant intersection
275443Dogwood Valley
Friendship RoadOne-quadrant interchange
278447Twentymile Bottom Overlook

MS 371 to MS 370 – Marietta, Mantachie, Baldwyn
Two-quadrant interchange
283455Donivan Slough
Prentiss286460Browns Bottom
Pharr Mounds
288463Siloam Road – Whitten Lock and Dam, Bay Springs LakePartial cloverleaf interchange
Tennessee–Tombigbee Waterway292470Jamie L. Whitten Bridge
Tishomingo293472Tenn–Tom Waterway

CR 1 to MS 4 – Fulton, Bay Springs Lake
One-quadrant interchange
295475Jourdan Creek
297478 MS 4 – Belmont, Booneville, Bay Springs LakeOne-quadrant interchange
MS 25 – Tishomingo, BelmontTwo-quadrant interchange
303488 CR 90 – Tishomingo State ParkOne-quadrant interchange
307494 MS 30 – BoonevilleOne-quadrant interchange
308496Cave Spring
Bear Creek Mound
AlabamaColbert309497 CR 1 (Allsboro Road)One-quadrant interchange
311501Rock Creek
312502Bear Creek
316509Freedom Hills Overlook
320510 US 72 – Cherokee, IukaOne-quadrant interchange
Buzzard Roost Spring
326525 CR 21 (North Pike) – CherokeeOne-quadrant interchange
327526Colbert Ferry
Tennessee River327–
John Coffee Memorial Bridge
329529 CR 2One-quadrant interchange
330530Rock Spring
331533 CR 14 – Florence, WaterlooOne-quadrant interchange
336541 SR 20 – FlorenceOne-quadrant interchange
TennesseeWayne343552Cypress Creek
350560Sunken Trace
SR 13 – Florence, ALOne-quadrant interchange
352566McGlamery Stand
Collinwood354570Broadway Street – Wayne County Welcome CenterOne-quadrant interchange
363584Sweetwater Branch
364586Glenrock Branch
365587Upper Glenrock Branch
367591Dogwood Mudhole
US 64 – Lawrenceburg, Waynesboro, David Crockett State ParkPartial cloverleaf interchange
Trail of Tears Bell Route
Lawrence372599Brush Creek Road – Laurel Hill LakeOne-quadrant interchange
375604Old Trace Drive
Lewis377607Jacks Branch RoadOne-quadrant interchange
Jacks Branch
380610 SR 241 (Napier Road)One-quadrant interchange
381613Napier Mine
382615Metal Ford
385620 SR 20 (Summertown Highway) – Hohenwald, SummertownOne-quadrant interchange
Meriwether Lewis, near Grinder's Stand
386621English Creek Cascade
390630Phosphate Mine
391629 US 412 (Columbia Highway) – Columbia, HohenwaldOne-quadrant interchange
Fall Hollow
392631Swan View Overlook
394634Devil's Backbone State Natural Area
397639Old Trace
Hickman400640Sheboss Place
Maury401645Tobacco Farm and Old Trace
Hickman403649Old Track Walk
404650Jackson Falls
405652Baker Bluff Overlook
Maury407655Gordon House
Hickman SR 50 – Columbia, CentervilleOne-quadrant interchange
Maury411661Water Valley Overlook
415668 SR 7 – Columbia, DicksonOne-quadrant interchange
Williamson423681Tennessee Valley Divide
425684Burns Branch
426686War of 1812
427687Garrison Creek
428689 SR 46 – Leiper's ForkOne-quadrant interchange
437703Timberland Park
SR 96 – FranklinOne-quadrant interchange
Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge
438705Birdsong Hollow
439707Bending Chestnut Overlook
SR 100 to McCrory Lane / I-40
Modified trumpet interchange; northern terminus
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


See also


  1. ^ "Natchez Trace Parkway". National Park Service. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  2. ^ Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named 52stat407
  3. ^ The National Parks: Index 2001-2003. Washington: U.S. Department of the Interior
  4. ^ National Park Service, Natchez Trace Parkway Fact Sheet, February 25, 2010
  5. ^ a b "Distribution of Administrative History, Natchez Trace Parkway" (PDF). National Park Service. p. 177. Archived from the original (Scanned into Adobe Acrobat (PDF)) on 2007-07-02. Retrieved 2007-08-10.
  6. ^ "House Republican Conference's Legislative Digest on S 304". House Republican Conference. Archived from the original on 7 January 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  7. ^ "Congress passes bill to give city 'bean field' property". Natchez Democrat. 11 September 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  8. ^ S. 304
  9. ^ Scott, David (2004). Guide to the National Park Areas Eastern States. Guilford, Conn: Globe Pequot Press. pp. 151–153. ISBN 0-7627-2988-0. OCLC 55075855.
  10. ^ a b "Maps - Natchez Trace Parkway (U.S. National Park Service)". National Park Service. Retrieved July 2, 2021.

External links