Call: 504-834-7000 or 800-899-8553
‚ÄčEmail: 

Nashville & the Natchez Trace

Discover the Natchez Trace

Nashville & the Natchez Trace 
By Melinda Bourgeois 

There are so many amazing places to see around the world that we sometimes forget what's right in our backyard. The U.S. offers incredible diversity for the luxury traveler and active adventurer alike.  Melinda, our owner, has just returned from a drive trip to Huntsville, Nashville, and the Natchez Trace and shares her experience. 

I recommend: 1-night Huntsville, 2 -3 nights Nashville, 1 night in northern Alabama (Muscle Shoals), and 1 night in the Jackson area.  To appreciate the Muscle Shoals area, make sure to watch the documentary about how everybody from Percy Sledge to Mick Jagger actually recorded in this town. 

A little history... what is the Natchez Trace?

Originally home to 3 majors Native American Indian tribes:  Choctaw, Chickasaw and the Natchez. The Native Americans blazed the trail and improved it further, until it became a relatively well-established path. It was then designated by President Jefferson in 1803 as a mail route and a road was built between Nashville and Natchez, though believed to be a military move to protect the Mississippi River access.  It was also the path used before the invention of steam power, the Mississippi River's south-flowing current was so strong that northbound return journeys generally had to be made over land, and the Trace was the path used.

Top Stops Trace

The Natchez Trace is 444 miles from right below Nashville, TN to Natchez, MS.  Mile Markers (MM) is the easiest way to understand Trace & mileage, all very well marked along the way.  See below for map of top 30 spots,

Here are some of the few "best" stops" along the way. Best depending on your interests:  Indian history, incredible landscape, Civil War history, hiking or picnicking. 

  • Modern Marvel:  Double Arch Bridge (MM 438)
  • Waterfall: Fall Hallow (MM 391.9)
  • Old Trace: Meriwether Lewis (MM 385.9) or Rocky Springs (MM 54.8)
  • Picnic Area: Glenrock Branch (364.5)
  • History:  Windsor Ruins (MM 30)
  • Civil War History:  Confederate Graves (MM 269.4)
  • Indian History:  Emerald Mound (MM 10.3) 
  • Mount Locust – One of the original stands left from the frontier days in the early 1800s and is one of the most significant historic sites in the South. (MM 15.5)
  • Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center – Milepost 266.0
  • Meriwether Lewis Site – The famous explorer Meriwether Lewis led a dramatic life and died a mysterious death right here (MM 386)
  • Tobacco Barn and Old Trace Drive – The two mile drive on the Old Trace has spectacular views of the forest as well. (MM 401)

Huntsville & Lynchburg

We chose to drive straight up to Huntsville and stay at Monte Sano State Park cabin though rustic, beautiful views and all the necessities for a one night stay.  Enjoy the hiking, the Japanese Garden and the CCC Museum in the park.  Plenty of  other hotel options in Huntsville, Alabama.  I do highly recommend visiting the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.  

Lynchburg - one hour north, small quaint railroad town with a 19th century courthouse surrounded by gift shops, coffee houses, and Jack Daniels tour (make reservations ) very interesting and recommended.   

Food wise throughout Tennesse and Northern Alabama is very southern:  BBQ, Collard Greens, & Biscuits.  Worth a visit Cafe Loveless & Punkett Grocery. 

 

Nashville

Nashville, Tennessee, is definitely country music and all that goes with it—cowboy hats and elaborate, custom boots, songs about heartbreak and crying over beer.  Loved staying at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, it's an absolutely stunning hotel, but if you choose to stay downtown, definitley worth a visit. 

  • Nashville Hop On Hop Off Trolley Tour
  • Grand Ole Opry - a MUST! 
  • Fun! Downtown Nashville Pub Crawl Walking Tour
  • Civil War Tour with Lotz House & Carter House 

 

Muscle Shoals Studio 
The sleepy town of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, would become the unlikely destination for America’s greatest recording artists, churning out classic hits like Percy Sledge’s ‘When A Man Loves a Woman’; ‘I Never Loved A Man’ by Aretha Franklin; ‘Brown Sugar’ by The Rolling Stones; and ‘I’ll Take You There’ by The Staple Singers. On the bank of the Tennessee River, and about 1/2 hour drive from the trace.


The President James K. Polk Home & Museum

Few people have accomplished more in their political career than James K. Polk. As a U.S. Congressman, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Governor of Tennessee, and by age 49, President of the United States, he had his wife Sarah by his side acting as his closest advisor. Together they changed America, doing much to expand its boundaries from Atlantic to Pacific.