Hiking Information


The parkway contains about 65 miles of trails that are part of the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail. Hiking opportunities vary from a short trail of a few hundred feet along a generally level, paved path to several miles of rustic trails through rugged terrain. Horse back riding is available at specially designated trails.  Mountain bike riding is not permitted on hiking trails.  Additional hiking and primitive camping are available at Devil’s Backbone State Natural Area, where the terrain is comparable to the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.


Highland Rim-  milepost 407.9-427.4.   Garrison Creek at 427.4 is the north trailhead of a 28 mile trail that includes one and one-half miles of the old Natchez Trace.  The trail begins just behind the comfort station.  A map and trail information is located on the rear of the bulletin board at the site.  The trail rises in elevation about 200 feet and then runs along the top of the ridge to Burn’s Branch in 3.7 miles and then to the Duck River.  A shorter trail begins to the left of the parking lot, runs across Garrison Creek and then loops to the top of the ridge to join the National Scenic Trail.

IMG_6822Natchez Trace Parkway Highland Trail 035

A trail head north of TN Hwy. 7 can be accessed by exiting the parkway at mile post 416, turning left onto Hwy. 7 and then the left on the Old Natchez Trace Road, which is the old Natchez Trace military road.To download a map from NPS, CLICK HERE.  Or CLICK HERE for more detailed information about hiking the trail and to find out how to use the trail for wellness and fitness.

Blackland Prairie- milepost 260.8-266.  This trail runs through what was once a large Chickasaw village.  Today, the prairie landscape is being restored.  The Visitor Center can provide an orientation.  At two road crossings, the trail follows the shoulder of the parkway motor road at the creek crossing at mile post 264.5 and the U.S. 178 crossing.  Be careful to watch for oncoming traffic at al crossing. To download a map from NPS CLICK HERE.

Yockanookany – milepost 108-131.  This trail just north of Jackson is the longest trail section on the parkway.  Eight miles run along the Ross Barnett Reservoir, and the other 16 run through dense forests, seasonal streams and open pasture land.  There are short side trails that also provide access.  At bridge crossings, hikers must use the parkway road bed.  Be careful to watch for oncoming traffic at all points where the trail joins the motor road.  This section of parkway has some of the heaviest automobile traffic.  To reach the Mississippi 43 trail head, exit the parkway at milepost 115, go west on Highway 43 a short distance to Yandell Road, turn left (south) for 100 feet, then turn left into the parking area. To download a map from NPS, CLICK HERE.

The Rocky Springs church is all that remains in the old Natchez Trace town.


Rocky Springs- milepost 52.4-59  This trail leads by the ruins of the old town RockySprings.  A church and cemetery are all that remain of this early Natchez  Trace town.  The trail crosses gently rolling, forested land.  South of Rocky Spring, the trail is moderately strenuous in places, and runs up and down steep ravines. Near the south end of the trail, hikers will find the Owens Creek waterfall, a good place to rest and take in the sounds of nature.  To access the north trail head, exit the parkway at milepost 59.2.  Turn right at the stop sign onto Fisher Ferry Road, cross over the parkway, and take the first right to the parking area. To download a map from NPS, CLICK HERE.

 Potkopinu  milepost 17-20. Potkopinu means “little valley” in the Natchez Indian language.  This trail runs along the longest continuous section of sunken trace, developed over years from the traffic of Natchez Trace travelers on the soft loess soil of the Natchez area.  The soil was carried by wind to the area from the banks of the Mississippi River.  Because the land surrounding the trail is private, please stay on the trail.  The southern trail head at mile post 17 is not recommended for RV’s because of the narrow access road and lack of turnaround space.  Hikers will walk through water at stream crossings. Depending on rainfall, the trail may be muddy or covered in knee-deep water. To download a map from NPS, CLICK HERE.

The Natchez Trace Parkway Association is a member of the Partnership for National Trails Systems, working with National Scenic Trails groups across the nation.

Trail Rides

Visitors can still ride horseback on designated trails along the Natchez Trace.  For more information, click the “National Park Service’ tab on the left.   This page is under development, please check back soon.

Explore Nature

IMG_0773The parkway extends through more than three distinctive natural environments. From the Spanish moss-covered trees of the Natchez area through the hills of Middle Tennessee, visitors can view and learn from the abundance of plants and wildlife. Young people can follow the example of explorer Meriwether Lewis, who is buried along the old Trace, to explore and catalogue the natural elements they discover.

This page is under development.  Please return soon to learn about opportunities to discover nature along the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Bird Watching

The scenic vistas of the Natchez Trace Parkway provide excellent opportunities to see a wide variety of birds. Visitors can follow in the footsteps of ornithologists James Audubon and Alexander Wilson, who also

Birding along the 444 miles of the Natchez Trace may include sightings of the Belted Kingfisher.

Birding along the 444 miles of the Natchez Trace may include sightings of the Belted Kingfisher.

traveled the Trace. In fact, Alexander Wilson met James Audubon in May, 1810, as Wilson was preparing to travel down the Natchez Trace to sell subscriptions for his drawings in Natchez and New Orleans. Audubon did not purchase Wilson’s drawings. After seeing Wilson’s work, Audubon decided that he could sell his own drawings. Audubon later moved to Natchez. There is local lore that Audubon may have taught at Jefferson College, and that his son attended school there.Northern Alabama features a bird trail, which includes Colbert’s Ferry on the Parkway. Interpretive signs can be viewed in the boat ramp area along the Tennessee River.

This page is under development. Please check back soon for additional information.

Plants and Wildflowers

IMG_0654Wildflowers are abundant along the parkway.  In certain areas, mowing is delayed in the spring to permit wildflowers to bloom and seed.  The best way to view wildflowers is to take a hike on one of the trails.  Because the parkway runs through 444 miles of different climates and terrain, a wide variety of wildflowers can be found in the park.
Three areas offer particularly good opportunities to view wildflowers during certain seasons:

    1. ROCK SPRING.  Mile post 330.2  Jewelweed blooms here in the spring and fall.  In September, hummingbirds are attracted to the blooms.
    2. CHICKASAW VILLAGE.  Mile post 260.8  This site is located along the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail, and the prairie is being restored. Prairie flowers bloom during spring and summer.
    3. CYPRESS SWAMP.  Mile post 122.0  Wetland wildflowers grow here in the moist soil. The best variety is in spring and early summer. The swamp is also home to herons and alligators.



 Bloom-time and location
(NJ=Natchez to Jackson, JT=Jackson to Tupelo, TT=Tupelo to Tennessee State Line, TN=All Tennessee)
                                             NJ      JT     TT      TN
Spring Beauty            February-May        X       X       X       X
Mayapple                 March-May           X       X       X       X
Spring Cress             March-May           X       X       X       X
False Solomon’s Seal     March-June                  X       X       X
Daisy Fleabane           March-October       X       X       X       X
Water Hemlock            March-October       X       X       X       X
White Baneberry          April-May                   X       X       X
Smooth Solomon’s Seal    April-June          X       X       X       X
Japanese honeysuckle     April-September     X       X       X       X
Ox-Eye Daisy             April-October       X       X       X       X
Wild Potato Vine         May-July            X       X       X       X
Queen Anne’s Lace        May-December        X       X       X       X
Spider Lily              June-September      X       X       X
White Heath Aster        September-November  X       X       X       X

Little Sweet Betsy       March-May           X       X       X       X
Crimson Clover           March-August        X       X       X       X
Evening Promise          March-September     X       X       X       X
Cross Vine               April-June          X       X       X       X
Fire Pink                April-July                          X       X
Woodland Pinkroot        May-June            X       X       X       X
Butterfly Milkweed       May-August          X       X       X       X
Meadow Beauty            May-October         X       X       X       X
Jewelweed                June-September      X       X       X       X
Trumpet Creeper          June-October        X       X       X       X
Rose Pink                July-August         X       X       X       X
Cardinal Flower          July-October        X       X       X       X

Common Blue Velvet       February-June       X       X       X       X
Tiny Bluets              March-May           X       X       X       X
Common Periwinkle        March-June                          X
Ground Ivy               March-June                  X       X       X
Lyreleaf Sage            March-June          X       X       X       X
Blue-Eyed Grass          March-July          X       X       X       X
Spiderwort               March-July          X       X       X       X
Dwarf Crested Iris       April-May                   X       X       X
Wild Blue Phlox          April-June                  X       X       X
Purple Deadnettle        April-October       X       X       X       X
Self-Heal                April-December      X       X       X       X
Wild Petunia             May-July                    X       X       X
Skullcap                 May-August          X       X       X       X
Crown Vetch              May-September                               X
Winter Vetch             May-September       X       X       X       X
Common Dayflower         May-October         X       X       X       X
Chicory                  May-December        X       X       X       X
Butterfly Pea            June-September      X       X       X       X
Monkey Flower            June-September      X       X       X       X
Wild Bergamot            June-September      X       X       X       X
Tall Morning Glory       June-October        X       X       X       X
Kudzu                    July-October        X       X       X       X
Scaly Blazing Star       July-October                X       X       X
Blue Wood Aster          July-October                X       X       X
Beggar Lice              July-October        X       X       X       X
Ironweed                 July-October        X       X       X       X

Carolina Jessamine       January-April       X       X
Early Buttercup          March-May           X       X       X       X
Yellow Violet            March-June                          X       X
Butterweed               March-July          X       X       X       X
Yellow Wood Sorrel       March-October       X       X       X       X
Golden Alexanders        April-May                   X       X       X
Tickseed Coreopsis       April-June          X       X       X       X
Dwarf Dandelion          April-August        X       X       X       X
Yellow Sweet Clover      April-November      X       X       X       X
Sneezeweed               May-August          X       X       X       X
St. Andrew’s Cross       May-September       X       X       X       X
Black-Eyed Susan         May-September       X       X       X       X
Prairie Coneflower       June-August                 X       X       X
Prairie Dock             July-September      X       X       X       X
Jerusalem Artichoke      July-October                        X       X
Beggar Ticks             August-November             X       X       X
Gray Goldenrod           September-November  X       X       X       X

The Parkway contains about 2,200 species of plants.  This page is under development.  Check back soon to learn more about ways to explore the abundant natural resources on the Parkway.

Streams, Lakes and Rivers

The Tennessee River

The Tennessee River

Streams provided landmarks to travelers on the old Natchez Trace.  Today those same streams serve to help visitors relax and become immersed in the natural environment.

The Tennessee River, as seen at the left, provides some spectacular views.  In the late 1700′s and early 1800′s, Chickasaw Chief George Colbert operated a ferry near this point to help travelers cross the river.  In the 1930′s the Tennessee Valley Authority widened the river by creating the Wilson Dam for hydroelectric power.  Today the river is popular for boating and fishing.  A boat ramp is available at  Colbert Ferry park on the south side of the river.


Cypress Swamp

Ross Barnett Reservoir is so large that at times the opposite shore is not visible across the horizon..  The nearby Cypress Swamp, which is filled with Tupelo cypress trees, is one of the few swamps remaining along the parkway.  Swamps were once common along the Natchez Road, particularly during rainy seasons.  Though causeways built by the U.S. army drained many of the swamps, a soldier returning home on the Natchez Road in 1813 said that his company walked up to half a mile at a time in waist-high water during the spring.  Today, visitors will find a bridge and a paved trail along the edge of the swamp.Cypress Swamp Lake Nature.

This page is under development.  Please check back soon.


Natchez Trace Wildlife  Late Spring 444

Wildlife is abundant on the Natchez Trace Parkway.  Deer, wild turkey, foxes, squirrels, and rabbits can be found in most sections of the parkway.IMG_8129


This page is under development.  Please check back soon.

Discover History

The Jefferson Peace Medal

The Jefferson Peace Medal presented to George Colbert in 1801 upon signing the treaty for the Natchez Road.

The Association encourages research and presentation of information about the rich history of the Natchez Trace. The Act authorizing the original survey for the parkway states that the parkway’s primary purpose is the “memorialization of the historical importance of the old Natchez Trace.” That history includes the cultures of pre-historic peoples, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Natchez nations, early American settlers and the movement of soldiers on the road during the War of 1812, the War for Mexican Independence and the Civil  War.  It also includes the history of the construction of the road by the U.S. army as one of the first federal roads in the United States.

President Thomas Jefferson recognized the importance of expanding the control of the United States to the port cities Natchez and New Orleans. He proposed building a road, ostensibly only to deliver mail and to provide a safer route for boatmen returning north after selling goods at the ports. Treaties with the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations were secured, and the United States Army began building the road in 1801.


Mount Locust


Post Rider Benjamin Joslin’s Stand in Nashville














By 1803, the military purpose of the road became evident when President Jefferson ordered Tennessee militiamen to march to Natchez to defend the new Louisiana Purchase in the event that Spain attempted to retake it. In 1813, a portion of Andrew Jackson’s militia marched along the road to Natchez to defend against a possible attack by Britain. Jackson marched along with his men back to Nashville on the road and earned the name “Old Hickory.” In 1815, many troops marched to New Orleans on the road to engage the British at New Orleans, and the soldiers marched home on the Trace, as victory celebrations greeted them at the settlements and towns along the way. On that return, General Jackson made the trip on the Natchez Trace in a carriage, accompanied by his wife Rachel. One Natchez Trace resident said that constant lines of returning soldiers could be seen on the road for months.

We encourage the development of living history programs to bring the history to life and interpretation that makes the history meaningful and relevant. Natchez Trace history will be presented at special meetings and through the journal that is in development. We are developing a traveling exhibit for counties along the Parkway. Information on the history of the Natchez Trace and lesson plans for school groups will also be made available on this site.

To read more about the History of the Natchez Trace, click the “History of the Natchez Trace” side tab under this heading.

History of the Natchez Trace


The Natchez Road

Paths and roads that provide for the movement of people shape the development of civilizations, just as they are also products of that development. The Natchez Trace and Natchez Road influenced development of the American continent, and they were improved by historic events. Construction of bridges and other improvements on the Natchez Road began a few years prior to similar improvements on the National Road, often considered the first federal road in the U.S. The Natchez Trace Indian path is one of the oldest trails in North America, and the Natchez Road was one of the first federal roads. It may have been the first federal road improved by the U.S. government.

Animal Path to Human Path

Early humans often followed paths worn by animals through the forests. Some early nomadic peoples followed a number of paths between Central America and the northern North American continent, including one that became known as the “Natchez Trace.” Rock formations at Muscle Shoals made it one of the few places within hundreds of miles where the Tennessee River was shallow enough for people to cross it. Paths leading to the shoals became more prominent as larger numbers of people traveled them.
Unlike people today, early people chose paths that provided the best access to drinking water and to animals for food. The concept of time was less important to them. The early paths followed streams and meandered through valleys rather than following a direct line to get people quickly from one point to another. The path that became the Natchez Trace was up to 100 miles longer than the parkway today between the same terminus points, because of the circuitous route that it followed.

Human Path to Path to Nations

People eventually became less nomadic and clans or groups of people adopted areas as their home land. One group settled at the future city of Natchez and became known as the “Natchez Indians.” The Chickasaw and Choctaw people migrated from the West, divided their clans, and settled in the Mississippi area along the paths. Paths between their nations continued to remain important for hunting and trading.

The Ceiling Of The Chickasaw House.

The Ceiling Of The Chickasaw House.

The Chickasaws’ hunting area extended to what today is Kentucky, and Chickasaw hunting paths developed through Tennessee. Creek, Cherokee, Shawnee and Kickapoo people traveled through the area for hunting and trading, and some Creeks and Cherokees settled in the Muscle Shoals area.

Explorers’ Paths

European explorers on the American continent used portions of the path that became known as the “Natchez Trace.” Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto traveled from the Gulf Coast as far north as southern Tennessee. After De Soto’s troops gave Chickasaws the impression that he would attempt to conquer their land, they pushed his troops out of their land. De Soto was killed. Later, French explorers traveled on portions of the trace and established trading camps and fortresses. After French explorer D’Artaguette indicated an intent to conquer the Chickasaw land, the Chickasaws defeated D’Artaguette’s forces near the old trace. British settlers were welcomed to the area as they traveled on the old trace, because they indicated a desire to coexist with the Indians without taking their land. The Europeans introduced horses to the area, and some Indians began to travel on the trace by horseback.

Traders’ Path to Postal Route

The Chickasaws encouraged development of a primary path from their nation to the Cumberland Settlement in what is now Nashville to promote trade with the settlers and to encourage a partnership for defense. The Chickasaws traveled the trail to help the British and later the Americans defend their settlements in the upper Ohio River Valley. Chickasaw warriors and Tennessee militia later traveled the path together to defend each others homes. The northern half of the trace was known as “Piomingo’s Trace” (or “Mountain Leader’s Trace”) for the Chickasaw chief who reached out to the Cumberland Settlement to build a path for trade.
American settlers in the Ohio River Valley began to float their agricultural goods down the Mississippi River for sale in Natchez. In the days before the use of steam engines, the boats could not be floated north on the river, and boatmen began to walk and ride on the Natchez Trace back to their homes. Sometimes boatmen shared a horse, taking turns riding a portion of the trip and walking the remainder. The U.S. began a regular mail delivery from Nashville to Natchez along the trace in the 1790’s. Post Riders were expected to travel on horseback up to 50 miles a day and to make the journey in about 10 days. Special express riders carried mail up to 100 miles per day using prepositioned fresh riders and horses.

Path To Wagon Road

Wagons were an early type of all-terrain vehicle, but roads for wheel traffic in wet weather required bridges and causeways.

Foot Path and Horse Trail to Federal Wagon Road

In 1801, President Thomas Jefferson authorized the U.S. army to build a wagon road along the old trace. Wagon wheels required bridges to cross streams and causeways dug to drain wet areas. The army was to clear a path sixteen feet wide and to make the center eight feet smooth enough for wagon travel. The new road was to be built as one Natchez man said, “so that we may drive our chariots to wilderness.” A French visitor wrote that when the road was completed, travelers could ride in a carriage from Boston to New Orleans. An abandonment of construction after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 made that prediction seem too optimistic. Nevertheless, Choctaw Agent Silas Dinsmoor was able to travel on the road from Nashville to the Choctaw Agency just a hundred miles north of Natchez in a buggy in 1805. The army built ferry operations for travelers to cross the Duck River and Tennessee River. Inns were also built to accommodate travelers. The inns provided shelter, food, drink, supplies and often the services of a blacksmith. At first, the Indians reserved the right to operate the inns and ferries through their nations, though George Colbert said that the government requested that he “move to the highway” to operate the ferry. The Natchez Road was officially called the “Columbian Highway” and appeared under that name in early official documents; however, people who lived along the northern section continued to call it the “Natchez Road,” “Nashville to Natchez Road,” or “Old Natchez Trace Road.” Some people who lived along the southern section called it the “Natchez to Nashville Trace:”, the “Nashville Trace,” or the “Natchez Trace.”

Cunningham Bridge on the Natchez Road

Cunningham Bridge on the Natchez Road

The road accomplished its military mission during the War of 1812 as troops marched along it from the settled areas of Tennessee and Kentucky to the Gulf Coast. General Andrew Jackson used eleven baggage wagons to return sick soldiers from Natchez to Nashville in 1813. Over 5,000 Tennessee and Kentucky troops were ferried across the rivers at the end of the war, and oxen pulled their supply wagons.

Covered Bridge At Buzzard Roost

Covered Bridge At Buzzard Roost

The road also became a significant immigration route as settlers moved from Virginia, New York and other areas in the east to begin new lives in what would become the American South. So many settlers traveled the road in the early 1800′s looking for land that traffic at Gordon Ferry was described as a “land rush.” Immigration put pressure on the Indians to surrender even larger areas of land, until the 1820′s and 1830′s when the government insisted that the Indians be removed from their lands to new lands west of the Mississippi River. New towns were built along the road. In some towns, the Natchez Road served as a main street.

Natchez Road Though Leiper's Fork

Natchez Road Though Leiper’s Fork

Federal Road to County Roads

The Natchez Road continued to develop. By the 1820’s, mail was carried on sections of the road in horse-drawn stages, which travelers could purchase tickets to ride. Mile markers were required to be placed along portions of the road, along with directional signs to the nearest towns. The road was used again for military purposes in the War for Mexican Independence and in the Civil War. However, with the introduction of steamboats on the Mississippi River and the construction of the Jackson Military Highway to the east, interstate traffic on the Natchez Road declined. As other roads connected to the Natchez Road, it lost its significance as a national road. Much of the old road continued to be used as county roads, which would eventually accommodate automobile traffic. Gordon Ferry, first constructed by the U.S. Army around 1802, continued in operation until it was replaced by a bridge in 1899.. Though much of the Natchez Trace Indian path and some portions of the military road were eventually abandoned, and can be seen along the parkway today, about 70% of the Natchez Road was still in use in 1940. Portions of the old trace, therefore, witnessed the evolution of transportation in North America from walking, to horseback riding, to wagon and carriage travel to the automobile.

Federal Road to Federal Parkway

In 1938, construction began on a federal parkway to commemorate both the Natchez Trace and Natchez Road, under the older name “Natchez Trace.” In the late 1800′s, that name began to be used generically for both the Indian path and the military road. It was determined that building a modern parkway over either old route would destroy the historical integrity of the resource; therefore, the compromise was to build a road to accommodate modern automobiles generally along the old routes. Rather than upgrading the old road, the parkway was to provide a means to connect visitors to many Natchez Trace historic sites along a scenic route. Though the parkway route more closely approximates the more direct route of the Natchez Road, it interprets the history of both, as the Natchez Road was a progression of the Natchez Trace.


Construction of Double-Arch Bridge, the First Pre-Segmented Post-Stressed Bridge in North America

The parkway has been given the distinction of an ”All American Road,” by the National Scenic Byways program of the U.S. Department of Transportation, certifying that visitors can experience unparalleled scenic beauty along the route. Because the parkway was not built directly over the Natchez Trace or Natchez Road, some historic sites related to the history of both are located just off the parkway. The Association is developing a listing of off-parkway historic Natchez Trace sites.
We will also continue to develop this section to tell the stories of the Natchez Trace and Natchez Road and the people who traveled them.

Our Videos

  • Spring 1812, The Duck River in Middle Tennessee.
  • The frontier of a young nation is a tinder box of mistrust and tension waiting to ignite.
  • International tensions with Great Britain heighten over the impressment of American sailors!
  • On the Frontier there is a real fear the British are inciting the Indians to open warfare!
  • Major General Andrew Jackson Issues the call: “Volunteers to arms! Soon you will be called to the tented fields!”.
  • Stem back in time as Gordon’s Ferry takes center stage in the debate whether the nation should go to war.
  • Muster on the Natchez Trace: Prelude to the War of 1812.
  • On May 26 and 27 experience this pivotal time in history at the Gordon House and Ferry on the Natchez Trace Parkway milepost 407.
  • The drums will roll as the troops and citizens assemble.
  • Will you enlist in the regular army or the militia?
  • Will you join the debate to defend our National Honor? Or will you meekly submit?
  • Our Young Country needs your assistance!
  • Who will answer?
  • You?

This special event is free and open to the public. May 26, 9:00 to 5:00 & May 27, 9:00 to 1:30.

Sponsored by: The National Park Service, 7th Us Infantry Living History Association, Natchez Trace Parkway Association, and the Tennessee War of 1812 Bicentennial Committee

Visit Gordon’s Ferry, Muster on the Natchez Trace: Prelude to the War of 1812.

Editor: Joe Erdmann

Photo Credits: Gary Foreman, Dan Hester, Daniel Kimes, Library of Congress, and Tennessee State Museum.

Officers and Directors


    • President- Austin Carroll, Tennessee


    • First Vice-President- Nancy Conway, Tennessee


    • Second Vice-President- John McBride, Mississippi


    • Third Vice-President- 


    • Secretary- Annie Perry, Alabama


    • Treasurer- Carroll Ann Padgett, Mississippi


  • Past-President- Will Motlow, Alabama



  • Will Motlow
  • Jerry Crowell
  • Danny Hendrix
  • Annie Perry


    • Mark Burleson


    • Gary Carnathan


    • Marsha Colson


    • Emma Crisler


    • John McBride


    • Carol Ann Padgett


    • Bradley M. Reeves


  • Lester Senter Wilson


    • Greg Beardan
    • Austin Carroll
    • Nancy Conway
    • Dr. Eslick Daniel
    • Autry Gobbell
    • Judy Hayes
    • Tom Morales


    • Brad Lieb


  • Alternate Brady Davis


To be appointed



CHAIR-  Adam Gwin

VICE-CHAIR – Don Estes

HISTORY- Smokey Joe Frank


CHAIR- John McBride
CYCLING- Robert Hester
HISTORY- Tom Watts
TRAILS- Jason Douglas
EDUCATION- Ron Morrison

Membership- Dr. Bryant Boswell



CYCLING- Rex Smith

TRAILS- Neal McCoy


CHAIR- Annie Perry
VICE-CHAIR- Randy Brown

HISTORY-  Randy Brown and Lee Freeman 

EDUCATION-  Robert Perry and Gayle Satchel

TRAILS/NATURE:  Charles Rose and Nancy Muse

CYCLING: Timothy Wakefield


CHAIR- Andy Moore
VICE-CHAIR- Tony Turnbow
SECRETARY- April Cantrell
HISTORY- Jeff Brewer
CYCLING- Russ Welty
PUBLICITY- Becky Newbold


History Of The Association


Mrs. Byrnes receiving the first donation at a ceremony in Natchez. Courtesy of the Thomas H. and Joan Gandy Photograph Collection, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, LA

The first efforts to revive the old Natchez Trace began with the Mississippi Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1903.  State Regent Mrs. Egbert Jones led the effort to place markers along the old Trace. The United States Daughters of 1812 also  marked the Trace. By 1918, the idea of returning the old Natchez Trace to its former prominence led to the formation of the Natchez Trace Highway Association and the motto “Pave the Trace.” That call was revived in 1934 at a convention in Jackson with the formation of the Natchez Trace Association.

Memorializing the rich history of the old Natchez Trace became its objective.  Association president Lucille Mayfield soon moved to Washington, D.C.  where she was able to promote the project one-on-one with  decision makers.  Roane Fleming Byrnes agreed to lead the organization, and she continued to serve as its president until her death in 1970. Mississippi Congressman Jeff Busby introduced legislation for a survey of a road to memorialize the old Natchez Trace.  Mississippi Senator Pat Harrison won President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s support to include the project as one of the New Deal parkways.   Congressman Busby told supporters that he would continue to request funding, but he needed people to “whoop and holler” for it.  Paul Coburn of Tuscumbia, Alabama took the lead in promoting the project in his state.  In Tennessee, the effort was led by P.M. Estes, a powerful insurance executive whose company National Life and Accident Insurance Company was also developing a radio show called the “Grand Ole Opry.”

The Association mounted an impressive campaign to generate support.  Association committees were formed in every county through which the road would be built.  Semi-annual meetings of members from all three states were used to maintain the attention of legislators.  Radio broadcasts, magazine articles, dinners and local motivational meetings generated public support.  An important part of the campaign was to educate the public about the history of the old road.

Natchez-Trace-Parkway-InauguralConstruction on the Parkway began in 1937, and on May 18, 1938, the Natchez Trace Parkway became a unit of the National Park Service.  Construction funding was diverted to the war effort during World War II.  The first section of paved roadway opened in Ridgeland, Mississippi in 1951.  The Association continued efforts to encourage support for construction.  The 1950s National Park Service program known as “Mission 66” proved to be an important source of funding for construction of much of the road, as well as comfort stations, picnic areas, wayside exhibits and campgrounds.  Though it was hoped that the Parkway would be completed by 1966 at the conclusion of the program, more than one-third of the road remained to be built.

Natchez-Trace-leadersIn the 1980’s, a new group of Association leaders mobilized.  The three state- affiliated associations rechartered to combine leadership as the Natchez Trace Parkway Association.  The Community Development Foundation of Tupelo, Mississippi and its director Harry Martin sponsored the Association’s work.   “Finish The Trace” became the Association motto to focus all efforts on completing the motor road. Each new section was opened with ribbon cuttings and speeches. Community leaders in all counties bordering the Parkway joined together to add momentum to the push. In 1996 the northern terminus was completed in Nashville and the southern terminus in Natchez was opened in 2005.

Now that the motor road is complete, the Association has turned its attention to completing the park and supporting interpretation and services needed, while protecting the scenic views.  To become part of the heritage of the Association, click the “Become A Member” tab to the left.

Building-the-Natchez-Trace-Parkway-CoverThe Association has published a photo history book through Arcadia Publishing for the 75th Anniversary of the Natchez Trace Parkway.

“Building the Natchez Trace Parkway” is available in parkway bookstores, independent book shops along the parkway and through national book chains. Pick up a copy to read more about the Association and its role in building the three-state national park.


The mission of each chapter is to connect their respective communities to the parkway. Chapters give members opportunities to get involved with the work of the association in their area. The work is divided among areas of interest in history, recreation, education and nature and conservation. Chapters may also take on development of projects in their area along the parkway.

Chapters are divided among five geographic regions.



To learn more about specific chapters, clink on the tabs for specific chapters on the right.



IMG_1879Natchez Trace Parkway Meriwether Lewis To view lesson plans on “Becoming Old Hickory” developed by Dr. Tom Watts, please click HERE.

This page is under development.  We are seeking educators to help develop lesson plans to enable students to gain the most from the natural and historic resources along the Parkway.  To participate, please contact us at info@natcheztrace.info and check back often to see new information on this page.

Becoming Old Hickory


(With Credit and Thanks to NTPA Mid-Miss. Chapter Member Dr. Tom Watts)
2011 Mississippi Social Studies Framework


 Domestic Affairs

2. Understand how technology, geography, and social conflict has impacted the development of the United States.

b. Cite evidence and evaluate the importance of improvements in transportation and communication (e.g., steamboats, railroads, canals, telegraph, etc.) in the development of American society. (DOK 3)

c. Describe the purpose, challenges, and economic incentives associated with westward expansion, including the concept of Manifest Destiny (e.g., the Lewis and Clark expedition, accounts of the removal of Indians, the Cherokees’ Trail of Tears, settlement of the Great Plains and the territorial acquisitions that spanned numerous decades. (DOK 2)

 Global Affairs

 3. Understand how geography and politics have influenced the historical development of the United States in the global community.

 a. Examine the exploration and colonization periods of the United States using social studies tools (e.g., timelines, time zones, maps, globes, graphs, political cartoons, tables, technology, etc.). (DOK 2)

 c. Analyze U.S. foreign policy in the early period prior to reconstruction. (DOK 3)


5. Understand the interaction of individuals, families, communities (microeconomics), businesses, and governments (macroeconomics) and the potential costs and benefits to the United States economy.

 a. Compare and contrast the economic factors that led to the development of America (e.g., exploration, colonization, immigration, sectionalism, industry in the North vs. agriculture in the South, tariffs, etc.). (DOK 2)

b. Analyze and evaluate the causes and effects of the Industrial Revolution, Westward Expansion, and immigration on the United States (e.g., inventions, railroads, canals, roads, gold rush, etc.). (DOK 3)


 6. Understand the purposes and principles embodied in the ideals and values of American society.

 a. Evaluate the value and the challenge of diversity in American life. (DOK 3)

 b. Assess the importance of certain character traits in a democracy, such as civility, nationalism, freedom, authority, justice, equality, responsibility, etc. (DOK 3)

 Learning Objectives:

The students will be able to: 1) Use a variety of readings, including primary sources about Andrew Jackson, the Natchez Expedition and the Natchez Trace to understand the consequence of the Natchez Expedition to the politics and sectionalism during War of 1812; and how Andrew Jackson received his nickname “Old Hickory”. 2) Use Natchez Trace and other maps to compare and contrast the changes of historical sites for the Natchez Expedition in 1812 – 1813 to Today.

Teaching Material:

  1. “Becoming Old Hickory” – General Andrew Jackson’s Natchez Expedition Questions for the Natchez Trace Field Trip in April 2013.
  2. Map of the Territory of Mississippi, 1798 – 1817.
  3. Map of the 1802 Mississippi Territory
  4. Map of State of Mississippi 1822
  5. A portion of Colonel John Coffee’s Personnel Status Report for March 8, 1813 at Washington, Mississippi Territory (outside Natchez). Coffee commanded the Tennessee Volunteer Calvary Regiment of approximately 600 men. This is three (3) weeks prior to the return to Tennessee by General Jackson and his Tennessee Volunteers by way of the Natchez Trace (Also called Columbia Trace).
  6. President James Madison’s Proclamation of War against Great Britain after Congress approved the Declaration of War on June 19, 1812.

 Teacher Overview:

General Andrew Jackson’s Natchez Expedition
(December 1812 – April 1813)

The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States and those of the British Empire. The United States declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions brought about by Britain’s ongoing war with France, the impressments (forcing of American merchant sailors into the Royal Navy), British support of American Indian tribes against American expansion, outrage over insults to national honor after humiliations on the high seas, and possible American desire to annex Canada.  The United States’ Congress declared war on Great Britain in June 1812.

Tennessee Governor Willie Blount was asked by the Secretary of War to send 1,500 troops for the defense of the lower Mississippi region and an expedition under the command of Andrew Jackson, Major General of the Tennessee militia, was outfitted in December 1812.

The troops were mustered in at Nashville on December 10, 1812 and departed in early January 1813. The expedition consisted of two volunteer regiments, under Colonels Thomas Benton and William Hall, and one regiment of volunteer mounted gunmen under Colonel John Coffee. Coffee’s men rendezvoused at Columbia, Tennessee and marched overland into the Mississippi Territory (NOTE:  Coffee’s Cavalry moved down the Natchez Trace, or “Columbian Highway” as it was officially known, now the present-day states of Alabama and Mississippi). The rest of the expedition comprised a flotilla that went down the Cumberland, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers, camping at their final destination near Natchez in mid-February 1813. After lingering there for several weeks, Jackson received orders from the Secretary of War that his services were no longer required and that he was to dismiss his troops. An angry and frustrated Jackson decided to march the army home at his own expense and, by his determined stance, acquired the sobriquet “Old Hickory” along the way (NOTE:  The Army Returned along the Natchez Trace, stopping along the way, using the “Stands” as hospitals, such as Brashear Stand near Ridgeland, MS.  During this return journey, the ailing but defiant Jackson would receive his nickname “Old Hickory”, when he gave up his horse to sick Tennessee volunteers.)  The Many of the men who were part of this expedition were called to join the first campaign of the Creek War in September 1813.

NOTE:  (A journal of the Natchez Expedition can be found in John Spenser Bassett, ed., The Correspondence of Andrew Jackson – Volume I, Washington, DC, 1926).

Student Instruction:

Divide the students into groups and hand them the instruction sheet, copies of the maps and the Natchez Expedition of 1813. Be sure that they understand that the light brown/ lines on the topography map indicate levels of elevation, the roads are in red and black (often dashes), and the red shaded areas are the city boundaries and that the small black squares indicate buildings.

Student Task:

  1. Locate the Natchez Trace on each of your maps. Use a green colored pencil to “trace” the Natchez Trace.
  2. Locate Leflore’s Bluff/Jackson, Mississippi on the 1801, 1820 and Territory of Mississippi 1798 – 1817 maps and using a red colored pencil draw a small circle around the village of Leflore’s Bluff/city of Jackson. Jackson is not on the maps.  Using the maps for comparison, look for the Pearl River and the Big Black River and look for the 32nd parallel. Using your best judgment, draw a circle where you think Leflore’s Bluff/Jackson should be.
  3. Now look at the modern map of the Natchez Trace Parkway and locate Madison, Mississippi on the north side of Jackson. Please be sure you note the compass rose so you know which direction is north.
  4. Read the information handouts on the Natchez Trace, the Natchez Expedition and the Andrew Jackson
  5. During the field trip to the Natchez Trace in April, students will take the General Andrew Jackson’s Natchez Expedition on the worksheet questions and answer the questions.

Teacher Closure: Ask the students to imagine that they were one of the Tennessee Volunteers with General Jackson. How would they feel about being away from home, being lead by General Jackson? Ask the students what they could imagine mapping and maps could be like 200 years from now.

Student Assessment: During the field trip to the Natchez Trace in April, students will take the General Andrew Jackson’s Natchez Expedition on the worksheet questions and answer the questions.

Suggestions for re-teaching: Visit the Natchez Trace Parkway to see a portion of the Trace near the school where Andrew Jackson camped with his men during the return from the Natchez Expedition.

Extension: Have the students write to their local, state or national archives or historic society and find out if they can find additional information about the War of 1812 in the Southeast United States, Andrew Jackson and maps that represent the War of 1812 period of history.

Primary Sources, Readings and Material:

Andrew Jackson Gains His Nickname. Washington, D.C.:  National Park Service.  November 13, 2012.  http://www.nps.gov/natr/historyculture/andrew-jackson-gains-his-nicknames.htm

Bassett, John Spenser, ed.  The Correspondence of Andrew Jackson, Volume I. Washington, DC: Library of Congress. 1926.

Jackson, Andrew. “Tennessee History”Masonic Research. tennesseehistory.com. 2012.  http://www.tennesseehistory.com/class/Jackson.htm.

Kentucky Volunteer Unit Roll, War of 1812.   Washington, D.C.:  Library of Congress. 1814. http://www.americaslibrary.gov/aa/jackson/aa_jackson_icon_2_e.html

Further Reading and Connections with Andrew Jackson and the War of 1812:

A Guide to the War of 1812.  Washington, D.C.:  Library of Congress. 2012. http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/1812/

Benn, Carl. The War of 1812. New York: Routledge, 2003.

Borneman, Walter R. 1812: The War that Forged a Nation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2004.

Heidler, David S., and Jeanne T. Heidler, eds. Encyclopedia of the War of 1812. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1997.

Hickey, Donald R. Don’t Give Up the Ship!: Myths of the War of 1812. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006.

Hickey, Donald R.  The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict.  Urbana: University of Illinois Press.  1989.

Meacham, Jon.  American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House.  New York: Random House.  2009.

Langguth, A. J. Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought the Second War of Independence. New York : Simon & Schuster, 2006.

Remini, Robert V.  The Battle of New Orleans. New York: Viking. 1999.

Remini, Robert V. The Life of Andrew Jackson.   New York: Viking.  1988,

Stagg, John C.A. Mr. Madison’s War: Politics, Diplomacy, and Warfare in the Early American Republic, 1783-1830. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1983.

For Younger Readers

Childress, Diana. The War of 1812. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Co., 2004.

Greenblatt, Miriam. War of 1812. New York: Facts on File, 2003.

Haberle, Susan E. The War of 1812. Mankato, Minn.: Bridgestone Books, 2003.

March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845

Andrew Jackson’s family moved from Ireland in the 1760′s. His father was killed shortly before Andrew was born, so his widowed mother raised Andrew and his two older brothers in the home of a relative.

 When he was thirteen years old he joined the Continental Army as a courier*. He and his brother were captured by the British. Once when he refused to polish the shoes of a British officer, the officer hit him with a sword and left scars that would remain the rest of his life. There were inward unseen scars also as a result of the war because he lost his older brother, and his mother also died during the war as a result of cholera.

When he was fifteen years old he received an inheritance from his grandfather in Ireland, but being young and inexperienced he was unable to handle the windfall and spent the entire amount in a week’s time.He studied law and became a lawyer at the age of 20. He headed west to Tennessee to seek his fortune. His destination was Nashville and there he met Rachel Robards, a young woman who had married at age seventeen and was estranged from her husband. She thought her husband had obtained a divorce and she and Andrew ran away to Natchez, Mississippi and married. Unfortunately, she was mistaken about the finality of the divorce. They returned home after six months only to find out they were not legally married. Her husband then sued for divorce on the grounds of adultery, the first such case in the state. When the divorce was final she and Jackson were married a second time, this time legally.

In 1796 he served in Congress as a State Representative from the state of Tennessee. 

In 1805 there was a dispute over a bet on a horse he had with a Mr. Erwin. A duel ensued between Jackson and Mr. Erwin’s son-in-law Charles Dickinson. It was agreed that Dickinson would shoot his pistol first. His shot hit Jackson and wounded him, but he didn’t die. Jackson’s first attempt to fire failed, and he took dead aim again and fired a fatal shot at Dickinson. The man survived for a few hours, but subsequently* died. The bullet would remain in Jackson the rest of his life and cause him a lot of pain and trouble.

In 1812 the United States declared war on Great Britain. Andrew Jackson was the commander of the Tennessee militia. Their mission was to defeat the Creek Indian warriors who had sided with the British. At one point Jackson’s soldiers threatened to mutiny*. He said he would kill them if they left. Previous threats had been carried out, so the mutiny did not occur.

In March 1814 he cornered the Creek Indians in Alabama. Not one of the 1,000 Creek Indians surrendered, but all were killed in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend

. The Tallapoosa River ran red with the blood of those who had been slaughtered. Sam Houston who fought alongside Jackson agonized over the events that took place that day.

Andrew Jackson was known as “Old Hickory”. He was as tough as a hickory stick and had an unbending will. Yet there was a soft side to him also. On a march he preferred to walk with the troops and let the wounded soldiers ride on the horses.

The British were threatening New Orleans. It was here that the last major battle of the War of 1812 would take place. Jackson teamed up with the French privateer and pirate, Jean Lafitte and the free blacks of New Orleans. He had about 4,500 men and was outnumbered three-to-one by the British. The British thought it was going to be easy to defeat the American troops there, but they were surprised when Jackson and his troops stood their ground. The British would lose hundreds of men, but Jackson only had 8 soldiers killed and 13 wounded. After 1815 the British left the Americans alone.

Support Association Projects



 The Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit,  volunteer organization. Funding is needed for development and for ongoing maintenance of the cellphone tour of the Natchez Trace maintained by the Association. 

The Association receives royalties from the sale of the “Images of America” historic photo book Building the Natchez Trace Parkway, on sale NOW at parkway bookstores, at independent book stores along the parkway, at national book chains and from the Arcadia Publishing web site.  You may support the cellphone tour by purchasing a copy of the book.



Who We Are

IMG_0730The Natchez Trace Parkway Association works closely with the National Park Service to encourage people to explore, complete, support and protect the  parkway.  The Association is a non-profit organization chartered in the state of Mississippi and registered in the states of Alabama and Tennessee.  Our board is composed of directors from all three states, and we have invited the Chickasaw Nation and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians each to appoint a board member to represent their nations. The IRS has given the association a tax-exempt determination as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity.  The Association is registered with the states of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee to solicit charitable contributions to create a fund to support the work of the Association in its support of the Natchez Trace Parkway.  More information about specific goals and projects is located on the “Goals” tab under “Support Association Projects” on the left.

The Association was founded in 1934 to mobilize the effort to create the Natchez Trace Parkway.  The completion of the parkway road in 2005  achieved a major goal.  Today the Association is focused on completion of the visitor amenities, interpretation and programming to complete the park portion of the parkway.

We have formed five chapters along the Natchez Trace Parkway:  Southern Mississippi, Ridgeland-Membership-Meeting1Mid-Mississippi, Northern Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee.  Each chapter is taking on projects in their area.  The mission of the chapters is to connect communities to the parkway, and help people understand how the Natchez Trace Parkway provides resources to enrich their lives.

We are working with the National Park Service and OnCell Systems to develop a cell phone and smart phone tour of the parkway.  New technology is making it possible to provide information in innovative ways.  The tour will give the visitor the experience of having a park ranger riding along with them to interpret the sites.

IMG_1014We are developing a living history program to use the important history of the Natchez Trace to teach younger generations.  The bicentennial of the War of 1812 is providing an excellent opportunity to partner with similar organizations to bring the trace history to life.

We are supporting efforts to restore historic resources along the parkway, as well as encourage new interpretive centers to engage the visitor.   The park will not be completed until the sites are restored, opened and interpreted.

We are planning events for cyclists to take advantage of the parkway as part of the national bike trails system and for hikers to take advantage of the 66 miles of National Scenic Trails along the parkway.  We support protection of the view from the parkway to make certain that future generations will continue to enjoy the parkway experience.

After almost 80 years, the association that worked to create the Natchez Trace Parkway is still working to complete the park, and to make it a world-class experience for all who visit it. We encourage you to join us.

More information about the Association is available on this site.  To join, please click the  “Become A Member” tab.  To donate to the work of the Association, click on the “Donate” button on the tab on the left.