RIDING THE NATCHEZ TRACE

There are a lot of ways to get to Nashville, Tennessee from Natchez, Mississippi but if you want a real motorcycle adventure you just have to ride the Natchez Trace Parkway. The Trace is one of America’s most unusual national parks. A park that is a little more than a mile across at its widest point but 444 miles long; stretching all the way from Natchez Mississippi to Nashville Tennessee.

The Natchez Trace parkway is one of America’s oldest highways. Created by Native American’s and later adopted by early American settlers the Natchez Trace is one of America’s greatest roads.

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The Trace today is a beautiful two lane strip of perfectly maintained asphalt, which gently weaves its way through Mississippi, a portion of Alabama and on into the hills of Tennessee. No commercial traffic is allowed. The speed limit is a mild 50 miles per hour and the scenery is fantastic making this a perfect trip for two wheels.

Besides being a great ride, a trip on the Trace is also a history lesson. There are numerous stops and pullovers along the way where you can learn about the Trace, the people who used it and what life was like in the early 19th century.

Some of the things worth seeing include the old Mount Locust Inn where Trace travelers could find a hot meal and a cot. The Pharr Indian Mounds where the original creators of the Trace honor their dead as well as remnants of the original foot worn trail, beautiful creeks, streams, and waterfalls. Another must stop is the Meriwether Lewis Memorial and Monument at Hohenwald, Tennessee. The celebrated explorer of Lewis and Clark fame died in 1809 during a journey on the Trace. Some say he committed suicide, others claim he was murdered. Regardless, he is buried alongside the Trace and his death and the mystery surrounding it makes this one of the best historic stops along the Trace.

One of the things I love most about riding the Trace is there are no billboards or advertisements of any kind, nothing to block your view of the natural beauty of the countryside. It is the kind of road where you can just kick back and enjoy the view. At 440 plus miles, you can ride the Trace in just one day but why? This is a road to be savored and enjoyed.

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A good place to overnight is Tupelo, Mississippi roughly half way between Natchez and Nashville. There are lots of great hotels and motels in Tupelo plus it is the birthplace of the King. Of course, we mean Elvis Presley. Elvis’ boyhood home is preserved here. There’s also a museum and a gift shop as well as an old church and even an outhouse. Apparently young Presley’s parents couldn’t afford indoor plumbing. Elvis’ boyhood home is a fun place to visit even if you don’t plan to overnight here.

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Back on the Trace the segment between Tupelo and Nashville is perhaps the most beautiful part of the ride. As the elevation changes the road picks up more twists and turns. You might be tempted to lay on a little speed but don’t. The park police are pretty strict about the 50 mile per hour limit and the fines are pretty hefty. So, take your time and enjoy the view.

Just south of Nashville is one of the most spectacular views of the trace. The Birdsong Hollow Bridge, which transports Trace travelers across the valley at a height of 155 feet affords the traveler a great aerial view of the countryside.

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This is what riding the Trace is all about. This 444 mile long roadway and National Park is a true American treasure and there’s no better way to experience the Natchez Trace than from the saddle of a motorcycle.

The Natchez Trace is also a great place for novice riders to hone their skills since there is no commercial traffic and the speed limit is relatively low. I took my first long-distance overnight motorcycle journey on the Trace many years ago. I have returned dozens of time. It seems I just can’t get enough when it comes to riding the Trace.

Now that my favorite riding buddy and fellow Chrome Cowgirl Tammi Arender is living in Nashville again, I am riding the route a lot more often. Oh I could get there a lot faster on the big slab, but it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun and after all, isn’t that what riding a motorcycle is all about? You know — the journey not the destination.

See you on the road.

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T.W. Robinson

 

~ by larider on May 5, 2014.

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