Sunday, June 28, 2020

2020 - Travels on the Natchez Trace Parkway

Natchez Trace – 2020
June 2nd – 3rd
We left home on Tuesday morning, June 2, 2020 headed for Lincoln State Park in Southern Indiana, approximate 3 hour drive.  Most of our drive was through forest and farmland along US 231. We passed through Jasper, IN with its German Heritage and beautiful buildings.

We arrived at Lincoln State Park on Lincoln Lake.  This is the childhood home of Abraham Lincoln.  We decided to go a day early and had to stay at a different site the first night.

Nancy Hanks, mother of Abraham Lincoln
Bronzed foundation and fireplace of the original childhood home of Lincoln

Just outside the state park is the National Park Service monument to Abraham Lincoln and his family.  Due to Covid-19 the visitor center was closed, but the grounds were open.  Lincoln’s mother is buried in the small graveyard.  We spent about an hour walking the grounds.

June 4th
We rose early and continued south on US 231 and US 421 toward Tennessee and the start of the Natchez Trace Parkway. We crossed over the Ohio River near Owensboro, KY.  From Owensboro we traveled along US 431 and I-40 West to pick up TN 100 just outside Nashville.  We stopped for gas just prior to entering the Natchez Trace Parkway.  The famous Loveless Café (Hwy. 100) was closed, but they had a biscuit store in the gas station.  We picked up a half dozen of their famous biscuits and assorted jams. Yum! Yum!

The Natchez Trace Parkway starts on the Southwest corner of Nashville and travels 444 miles along the two lane parkway to Natchez, MS.  The Parkway is part of the National Park Service.  There are campgrounds run by the NPS as well as numerous Tennessee and Mississippi State Park. 

We stopped to photograph the double arch bridge of TN-96.  Other stops included the War of 1812 Memorial.  We missed the stop for the Gordon House, but were able to google and read the story later.  The home was red brick, built in 1818.  We stopped and I attempted a hike to Jackson falls.  A large tree had fallen across the trail.  After hiking back we discovered a spot to park and go to the falls, but decided to continue, think that the spectacular falls were later on the Parkway.  We were wrong Jackson Falls was the oft pictured falls.  We will have to return.  We continued on the Trace, past tobacco barns, farm fields and forest.  We continued South to Meriwether Lewis Monument and gravesite.  We also stopped at the location of the Grinder Stand.  Stand’s were usually Inn’s were people traveling along the original Trace could spend the night and get a meal.

Double Arch Bridge on the Natchez Trace Parkway

War of 1812 Monument

 Trail Tears crosses the Natchez Trace Park throughout Tennessee

Tobacco Barn

Bureal site of Meriwether Lewis

Log Home where Meriwether Lewis died of questionable causes

We exited the Parkway onto TN 64 to David Crockett State Park.  Davey Crockett moved here in 1817 and started a gristmill, powder mill, and distillery.  He died in 1836 at the Battle of the Alamo. We had a great campsite and had heavy storms during the night.  The next morning we drove deep into the park to see Crockett Falls, the covered bridge and beautiful lake before heading back to the Trace.  The drive through the park was one of the routes of the “Trail of Tears”.  We would follow and cross several times in Tennessee.

June 5th – 6th
We crossed into Alabama in the Northwest corner of the state..  We stopped at the Tennessee River Overlook.  This part of the river was also part of the “Trail of Tears” for a couple of the groups headed to Oklahoma.  We continued south through an area devastated by a large tornado in late March.  The Sunken Trace Boardwalk was closed due to damage.

John Coffee Memorial Bridge over the Tennessee River

Bear Creek Mound

We exited the parkway and drove to the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center located in Corinth, MS.  Though the NPS had the building closed, a park ranger was outside and share some information and I toured the grounds.  We retraced our path back to the Trace and continued to Tishomingo State Park for the next two nights.  Mississippi required all campers to be self-contained, so after the inspection we headed to our campsite.  Our campsite was right on the lake.

On Saturday we got back on the tTrace to explore and crossed the Tenn-Tom Waterway, Locks, and Dam.  We exited the Trace for Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield Site off MS 370.

Marker for the corner of 4 Mississippi counties

On the way back we stopped at Parr Mounds, eight (8) domed mounds built across 90 acres.  They were built in 1-200 AD by Nomadic Indian Hunters where they buried the dead and possessions.

Tishomingo State Park

June 7th

Today was our 45th Wedding Anniversary.  We had a special breakfast with a veggi omelet wrap and fruit and a dark roast coffee in the press.  We packed up and again headed South to the Confederate burial site located along a portion of the Old Trace.  There are 13 grave stones.

We drove into Tupelo, MS to the Tupelo National Battlefield.  It is a small park, so the stop was short and I took several photos.  We headed to Tombigbee State Park and dropped the trailer off at our campsite.  We called in a food order at Harvey’s of 2 orders of blackened catfish over smoked cheddar and jalapenos grits and sautéed spinach, with bread pudding for desert.  We took it back to the campground and found a nice shady place to have dinner. After our early dinner we headed to the birthplace and museum of Elvis Presley.  We both walked the grounds which were beautiful.


Elvis Presley's childhood home

Elvis at thirteen

Mimosa Tree

Magnolia Tree

June 8th – 9th

We headed south again on the Trace, stopping at Chickasaw Council House, Tockshish, Monroe Mission, Hernando De Soto Monument, and the Owl Creek Mounds.


Owl Creek Mounds

It was raining  when we arrived at Davis Lake Campground, a National Forest Service Campground  in the Tombigbee National Forest.  Our campsite was right on the lake.  


 We decided to take a drive to Starkville, MS and visit Mississippi State University.  We spent about 45 minutes driving around campus.  On the Trace we stopped at the Chickasaw Agency, Witch Dance, and Bynum Mounds.  The 9th was a beautiful day and we spent it sitting along the shore bird watching.  This campground was amazing.

Mississippi State University


New baseball stadium.  The building to the right of the entrance is a 4-5 story suite tower

Blue Heron

Hurricane Cristobal still in rotation over the south and our campsite at Davis Lake

Sarah loving her camping trips

Davis Lake Recreation Area in the Tombigbee National Forest

June 10
Back on the Trace for 200 miles with stops at Pigeon roost, Jeff Busby – Little Mountain scenic drive, French Camp, Bethel  Mission, Hurricane Creek, Upper Choctaw Boundary, Ross R. Barnett Reservoir, West Florida Boundary, Boyd Site, Reservoir Overlook, Brashears Stand, Choctaw Agency, Osburn Stand, Cowles Cemetery, Jackson, MS, Battle of Raymond, Dean Stand, Red Bluff Stand, Lower Choctaw Boundary, and Owen Creek Waterfall.  Many of the stops along the Trace are signs referring to places and locations along the original Natchez Trace.  There are a few places where you can drive on the Old Trace, and places that you can walk to where the old wagon wheel ruts can be seen.  Our next camping stop was Grand Gulf Military Monument.  The campground was nice and there was only one other camper there.  The museum was closed, and we didn’t get a chance to walk the grounds.  We couldn’t drive down to the Mississippi River as it was over its banks by ½ to ¾ miles nearly up to the road to the park and campground.  We did drive the loop and saw Confederate gun placements on top of the hill.

 Driving along the Trace

Ross R. Barnett Reservoir

 Owens Creek Waterfall

 Sunken Trace (Old Trace Road)

Grand Gulf Military Monument
Mississippi River over its banks

Natchez Trace Parkway

June 11th – 12th
We had a 35 mile drive to our last campground on the Natchez Trace.  Along the way we stopped at Mangum Mound, Sunken Trace, Port Gibson, MS, Mount Locust (closed and gated), Mount Locust was one of our favorite places when we drove the lower portion of the Trace in 2019.  There is an old home, visitors center, and the grounds are beautiful.  It was disappointing to see it closed.  We spent 2 nights at Natchez State Park.  We drove into Natchez and saw the beautiful antebellum homes.  Some were still closed.  We stopped at Natchez Brewing Company and picked some Crowler’s of different IPA’s and stopped at Fat Mama’s Tamales for a six pack of tamales.  We drove across the Mississippi River to Vidalia,  Louisiana to the visitor  center along the river.

On Friday, we completed the last 10 miles of the Trace at 11:50 a.m., 444 miles from start to finish.  We visited what was left of the Elizabeth Female Academy and stopped at Emerald Mound, the second largest Temple Mound in the US and National Historic Landmark.  It covers 8 acres and is 35’ high.  Two smaller mounds sit atop.  We stopped at several churches built in the early 1800’s.  Later we drove to the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians State Historic Site. 

 Elizabeth Female Academy Site

 Picture from Louisiana side

Picture from Mississippi side


Tiffany Glass

We also drove down to Natchez Bluffs and Under-the-Hill Historic District.  These buildings were restored along the banks of the river

Adams County Courthouse - Natchez, MS

 First Presbyterian Church of Natchez



 Susan's brother Jerry with his Covid-19 beard

Back Home in Indiana

 This was a fun trip.  The state parks were all by reservation.  Mississippi required all campers to be self-contained, not tent camping allowed.  Davis Lake is a USF campground, first come first serve, also fully contained.  Gulf Military Park was first come first serve and followed the Covid-19 camping rules.