One of the most traveled National Parkways in America, the Natchez Trace offers the present-day traveler an unhurried route that is rich in cultural and natural history.
The Parkway was established to commemorate the historical significance of the Old Natchez Trace, a primitive trail stretching over 400 miles through the wilderness from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. In the late 1700’s when the Mississippi Territory was established with Natchez as its capital, traffic on the Trace increased dramatically. Many famous Americans have traveled the Trace including John James Audubon, Meriweather Lewis, and Andrew Jackson. The arrival of the steamboat era in the early 1800’s heralded a new age of travel and the use of the Trace soon declined.
In 1938, Congress created the Natchez Trace Parkway and placed it under the National Park Service. Today, the old trail is paralleled by that parkway. This scenic stretch of road, brushed by forest, canebrakes, ridges, and swamps is blessed with several recreation sites in or near Ridgeland. The Yockanookany picnic area, Ratliff Ferry, River Bend picnic area and Cypress Swamp are just a few enjoyed by travelers on the Parkway.
There are also numerous exhibits, campgrounds, water recreation areas, and hiking trails, such as the Multi-Purpose Trail – a four mile stretch that curves through the Natchez Trace. RVing and motorcycling on the Parkway offer a great ride on a designated National Scenic Byway and All-American Road.
To fully enjoy your time on this historic path while you're in Ridgeland, the Natchez Trace Parkway Association as put together this Ridgeland/Natchez Trace Parkway Itinerary.
Historic Fun Fact
Did you know that passports were once required on the Natchez Trace? Find out more!