The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444 mile National Scenic Trail that stretches from an area southwest of Nashville all the way to Natchez, Mississippi. Not only is the Natchez Trace a history lovers dream, but it is also perfect for those who love beautiful scenery and road trips. There are so many historical and recreational stops on the Natchez Trace Parkway!
Honestly, it can be overwhelming when you realize that there are approximately 90 marked stops on the Natchez Trace Parkway.
Of course, everyone is going to have their own opinion about which they think are the best…but in this post I am going to share mine! I have tried to include a variety of historical, recreational, and cultural places in this list.
Obviously this list does not include every stop. Some of the stops on the trace are simply signs explaining what was once in that particular location. You will be able to drive through and read the sign without even leaving the car.
At some of the stops you will spend 5 minutes and at others you could spend an hour or much more. Some stops on the Natchez Trace Parkway involve reading and learning and others involve physical activity.
You definitely do not have to pull over at every site along the parkway to have a great time on this road trip. It’s ok to pick and choose!
The stops on the Natchez Trace Parkway will be labeled by their mileposts. You will find these mileposts on the east side of the parkway.
Even though there are some great cities with some really fun and interesting things to do that are just off of the trace I am not going to include those in this post.
However, for the purposes of this post I will only be including the stops that are directly on or just off of the parkway.
My list of stops on the Natchez Trace Parkway goes from north to south because that is the direction that we traveled!
Here are some more ideas to help you plan your entire road trip on the Natchez Trace Parkway.
The Best Stops on the Natchez Trace Parkway
Milepost 444: The Loveless Cafe
The Loveless Cafe is only a few hundred yards from the end (or beginning) of the trace. This is a delicious and historical restaurant famous for their biscuits.
Milepost 438: Double Arch Bridge
An incredibly picturesque double arch bridge spans Birdsong Hollow. (Don’t you love that name?) As you are driving the trace you will see a pull over for Birdsong Hollow which will give you a view of the bridge from above. You can even walk across the bridge.
If you take the exit toward Leiper’s Fork you will come to a parking area that will allow you to see the bridge from below. Both views are amazing.
Milepost 437.2: Timberland Park
Timberland Park is a very pretty and not too heavily used park. It has a cozy interpretive center where you can find a map of the trails in the park.
Milepost 427.6: Garrison Creek
We stopped here to eat our picnic lunch. This is a sweet little area, with a gurgling creek and picnic tables. There were kids playing in the water while we were here and I think this would be a great stop if you are traveling with children.
There are also horse and hiking trails at Garrison Creek.
Milepost 407.7: The Gordon House
This is a must see! The Gordon House is one of the few remaining original structures on the trace from its glory days. It is a small but stately brick structure which was built in 1818 to be the home of Captain John Gordon and his family. Gordon was also the ferry operator who took travelers across the Duck River.
Milepost 405.1: Baker Bluff Overlook
This is an overlook with a pretty view of farmhouses, fields, and woods.
While here you will see a sign pointing down a trail to Jackson Falls. As I was doing my research I continuously saw these Baker Bluff and Jackson Falls together and made the assumption that this was only one stop.
I was wrong!
We took the trail thinking that this was the only way to Jackson Falls. Unless you are looking for a fairly difficult hike with some very steep hills do not do what we did!
Enjoy the overlook and then continue driving on down the parkway to…
Milepost 404.7: Jackson Falls
Jackson Falls is a gorgeous spot. There is a steep but short paved walk down to the falls. It is worth it! This is one of the most popular stops on the trace and you will find bathrooms and a picnic area here in addition to the trail to the falls.
Milepost 401.4: Old Trace Drive at the Tobacco Barn.
This is a stop where you will see an old tobacco barn and have the opportunity to get off of the new paved parkway onto the old trace. It is an easy one way drive that will connect back up with the paved road.
This little drive gives you an opportunity to imagine that you are in the past traveling by wagon or horseback or on foot…all from the comfort of your car.
Milepost 400.2: Sheboss Stand
You might enjoy taking a drive through this stop on the Natchez Trace Parkway to read the sign for a funny story of one of the “stands” that used to be along the trace. The stands served as inns and stores for weary travelers and almost none…including this one…are still standing.
Milepost 391.9: Fall Hollow Waterfall
First walk down a paved path to an overlook where you can see the top part of the falls. The more adventurous can proceed on down the short but steep dirt trail to see even more falls and cascades as well as pretty pool of water at the bottom. Fall Hollow really is a magical place.
Do watch your footing as the trail can be a little slippery.
Milepost 385.9: Meriwether Lewis Death and Burial Site
Here you will find the grave of Meriwether Lewis and the ruins of the Grinder House. The Grinder House was one of the stands along the trace. It was also where Meriwether Lewis died (under mysterious circumstances) while traveling the trace.
The cause of his death is still a great mystery. You can read more about it here.
There is a Meriwether Lewis Visitor Information Center here but it is only open seasonally. Unfortunately it was not open during our trip but when open it has exhibits about Meriwether Lewis and a ranger on hand to answer questions.
Milepost 382.8: Metal Ford and Buffalo River
A short walk will bring you to the place where travelers of old would ford the Buffalo River. It gets its name from the stones on the bottom which looked like metal.
Milepost 355: The Dragonfly Emporium
The Dragonfly is a cute shop just off of the trace near Collinwood, Tennessee. It has locally created arts & crafts, select antiques, jewelry, gift items and a coffee bar. It is a great place to get a snack and something to drink as well as to use their wi-fi.
Milepost 364.5: Glenrock Branch
A walk down a short trail will lead you to pretty creek with a limestone bluff bend and a shaded picnic area. You might want to bring your coffee and baked goodies from Dragonfly Emporium here for a little picnic.
Milepost 338: Wichahpi Commemorative Stone Wall
In my opinion this place in Alabama was the most fascinating stop on the parkway.
It is also called Te-lah-nays Wall. This wall, the largest un-mortared stone wall in the nation, was constructed by Tom Hendrix over a period of 30 years in memory of the journey of his great-great-grandmother Te-lah-nay. She was taken to Oklahoma when the Indians were removed from the area, but made her way back to Alabama.
Her path home, like the wall, was neither straight nor easy.
You can read more about the story of both Te-lah-nay and Tom Hendrix here.
Milepost 330.2: Rock Spring and Colbert Creek
Stepping stones lead over a clear spring-fed creek to an approximately 1/2 mile loop trail. The trail is easy to walk and will lead you past the spring fed pool. It has interpretive signs about the vegetation and wildlife in the area. This is also a great place to rest your feet in the cold water.
If you happening to be traveling the trace in the fall this is a particularly important stop.
The creek is intermittently dammed by beavers which has created an impressive wetland area. The edges of the wetland support the orange jewelweed, a plant which happens to attract hundreds of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds each fall.
Milepost 327.3 Colbert Ferry
Another stand used to be located here as well as the spot where George Colbert operated a ferry across the Tennessee River. There is a story (that I have a hard time believing) that Mr. Colbert once charged Andrew Jackson $75,000 to ferry his Tennessee Army across the river.
A short stroll will take you to an overlook where you can see the bridge that now takes travelers across the Tennessee River.
Milepost 304.5: Tishomingo State Park
The Natchez Trace Parkway actually travels right through the middle of this incredibly scenic state park in Mississippi. You can take a driving break at Tishomingo State Park to hike, canoe, fish, or even play disc golf.
Milepost 286.7: Pharr Mounds
Built about 2,000 years ago, the Pharr Mounds is a complex of eight dome-shaped mounds, spread over 90 acres. Cultures around the world and across time have built monuments and lasting memorials like these.
The modern Chickasaw feel a kinship with Pharr mounds and consider them sacred.
Milepost 269.4: Confederate Gravesites.
The truth is that nobody really knows exactly who was buried here in this stretch of 13 graves alongside the old trace.
Tradition holds that they were Confederate soldiers who marched, camped, and died along the Old Trace. Was there a skirmish here? Were they sick? Who is really buried here?
Milepost 266: Parkway Visitor’s Center
You will definitely want to stop by the Parkway Visitor’s Center. They have a movie that you can watch about the trace as well as a variety of information and exhibits. Rangers will be on hand to answer questions.
The visitor center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Day.
Milepost 261.8: Chickasaw Village Site
This site is on land that was once a Chickasaw fort and village. Although nothing is really left here you can use your imagination to envision what it might have looked like with the help of interpretive signs and artist renderings along a pathway.
Milepost 232.4: Bynum Indian Mounds
What was interesting about this location was that you can walk right up to and around these ancient Indians Mounds. This is the site of the oldest Indian mounds on the trace.
Milepost 193.1: Jeff Busby Park and Overlook
There is a campsite, bathrooms, and picnic areas at Jeff Busby Park. The overlook stands on the summit of a large hill, and provides a scenic view of the Parkway and the forested areas around it. Take the Little Mountain Trail to overlook. The hike is about 1.5 miles round trip.
Milepost 180.7: French Camp Historic Village
This is the only place with lodging and food right on the trace. You can stay at the French Camp bed and breakfast or eat at the Council House Cafe. There are several other historic buildings at this site including the Colonel James Drane House.
NOTE: There are a couple of stops south of French camp that were destroyed during recent tornadoes in Mississippi. This includes River Bend and Cypress Swamp at milepost 122. They were still closed on our trip so I am not including them in this post but I wanted you to be aware that they exist for when they, hopefully, reopen.
Milepost 105.6: Ross Barnett Reservoir
You will drive a pretty stretch of the parkway right alongside the Ross Barnett Reservoir. It appears that many people just pull right off of the road into the grass and do a little fishing. I’m not sure if this is actually allowed just pointing out what we saw. Stop at this milepost for an slight overlook view of the lake.
Milepost 54.8: Rocky Springs
Such an interesting stop on the parkway. Rocky Springs was once a thriving community that took its name from the nearby water source.
Settlement of the area began in the late 1790’s and continued until about 1860, reaching a peak of approximately 2600 people. Poor land management, yellow fever, the Boll Weevil and the Civil War brought an end to the settlement.
Today there is a campsite and bathrooms.
Drive past the camping area straight through to the back where you will find a place to park and a half mile loop walk with signs that explain more about the town as well as see how the poor farm management caused the land to erode.
Be sure and visit the remaining church and graveyard on top of the hill.
Milepost 41.5: Sunken Trace
Here you can see a portion of the trace that was deeply eroded from many years with thousands of walkers, riders, and wagons. travelers. This especially happened where the ground was relatively soft with loess soil.
Milepost 15.5: Mount Locust Historic House
Mount Locust is the only surviving “stand” or inn of the more than 50 that once served travelers on the old Natchez Trace. This was a fascinating place! You can walk through the house and see typical furnishing from the area.
They have recently discovered the foundation where the old kitchen used to stand. There is a graveyard where more than 46 enslaved people were buried.
A ranger is on site to answer questions. This site is not open on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Milepost 10.3: Emerald Mound
Emerald Mound is the second largest Indian Temple Mound in the US. They were used by the forerunners of the Natchez Indians for burials and ceremonies. This 35-foot-high mound covers eight acres and measures 770 feet by 435 feet at its base. Two secondary mounds sit atop the primary mound, bringing the total height to approximately 60 feet.
Hope you have enjoyed learning more about the stops on the Natchez Trace Parkway!
We spent four days driving the parkway and found it incredibly interesting and relaxing. You will probably want to visit some of the cities along the trace. Such as Leiper’s Fork, Muscle Shoals, Tupelo, Jackson, and, of course Natchez, Mississippi.
Thanks for stopping by!