Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a beautiful, scenic 444-mile-long unit of the U.S. National Park Service, which extends across three states from Natchez, Miss., to Nashville, Tenn. Within the Jackson area, "the Trace," as it is locally called, offers plenty of outdoor grandeur and fun.
Campgrounds are clean and easy to find. The closest, in Rocky Springs, Miss., is about a 45-minute drive from Jackson. At the end of the campground is a shallow creek on pebbly ground, called Little Sand Creek. The creek is nicely shaded by overhanging trees in most sections, and there are usually some beautiful butterflies and dragonflies to accompany you on your walk. RVs and tent-dwellers alike are well cared for and in the crisp chill of November, you won't find a better weekend trip.
The stunning majesty of the Cypress Swamp should be experienced by all, and it makes for a fun lunch date. Located at mile post 122, the half-mile walk through Cypress Swamp is hauntingly beautiful as you stroll slowly on a boardwalk through the old bald cypress and water tupelo trees. The dim light gives it the solemn quality of a cathedral, broken occasionally by the chittering call of a woodpecker.
At the farthest end of the loop is a bench overlooking a backwater of the upper Pearl, which is a nice spot for a picnic and some birdwatching.
Biking and hiking trails are abundant throughout the Trace as well, with the closest located in Ridgeland, off of Pear Orchard Road. Once you enter the parkway along the reservoir, you feel like you're in your own world because it's just you, your bike and nature—the perfect biking experience. In addition, it's safe for bicyclists all along the Natchez Trace. Bicyclists travel the Trace from Nashville to Natchez—all 444 miles.
With all of this, you could easily enjoy an afternoon with good ole Mother Nature for the price of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a thirst for adventure!