The Natchez Trace Parkway
Cycling the Natchez Trace Parkway
The Natchez Trace Parkway retraces the 444 mile historic route south to north from Natchez MS to Nashville, TN. The vast majority of the Trace - over 300 miles - is in Mississippi.
The Trace offers an unparalleled cycling experience for those looking for a relatively flat, enjoyable long-distance route. Intentionally, there are no gas stops, lodging or stores on the Trace itself, allowing you to enjoy the experience unencumbered. However, many townships are located in close proximity, just 1-2 miles off the Trace, while others are located up to 5-7 mile distance. There are countless cities and townships along the Trace which provide accommodation options, places to eat and drink, local bike stores, rentals and other points of interest and attractions to support your bicycle tour experience along this incredible route spanning much of Mississippi.
The convenient location and distance of the communities, and the variety of services offered provides a great deal of flexibility for how you can choose to experience the Trace by bicycle:
- tour the full length of the Trace from Natchez MS to Nashville TN;
- tour the full length of the Trace in the State of Mississippi from Natchez in the South to Tishomingo in the North;
- select a two to five day section of the Trace depending on the amount of time - and energy! - you have;
- select two or three communities from which to base yourself for 2-4 nights each - exploring the Natchez Trace Parkway immediately north and south of those communities, as well as other riding experiences. Our picks would be Natchez, Ridgeland and Kosciousko or Tupelo.
Whichever style you choose, make sure to experience the many sights of the surrounding townships and the National Park - those related to the Trace's history and development; and those which portray a unique character and narrative for the individual townships and communities.
We think you'll love cycling the Natchez Trace Parkway because:
- The entire Parkway is a designated bike route
- Commercial traffic is prohibited
- Commercial signage and development is prohibited
- The maximum speed for vehicles along the Parkway's entire length is 50 mph
- Numerous signs remind cars to share the Parkway with cyclists
- Generally, vehicular traffic is very light (except for the area around Tupelo and Ridgeland)
- The scenery is amazing and varied. The Trace is lined with forest, farmland, creeks and beautiful vistas
- There are numerous historical and natural attractions right along the full extent of the parkway, offering numerous rest stops
- Restrooms are located every 20 to 50 miles along the Parkway. Communities along the Parkway have businesses with restrooms as well.
- There are numerous side trails that take you to many other attractions of the various local communities and townships along the Trace
- There are many bicycle friendly places to stay, eat and drink
photo credits: NPS photo
The Natchez Trace Parkway trail map
If planning to ride the entire Natchez Trace Parkway through Mississippi, we recommend allowing at least a full two weeks (and more again if also cycling the Alabama and Tennessee sections). This will give you a chance to explore the many sights and attractions along the way; a day either side to arrive/depart and a rest day or two along the way, including to allow for the possibility of inclement weather.
The historically accurate way to ride the Trace is south to north, retracing the steps of those in history before you. You will also more likely have a tail-wind!
Routes along the Natchez Trace Parkway (southern sections)
In addition to the trail map for the entire 440mi Natchez Trace Parkway, we have also prepared the below trail maps for a bite-sized approach to each of the ten sections of the Trace, linking communities across Mississippi.
Routes along the Natchez Trace Parkway (northern sections)
Where to ride - other routes on the Trace
Where to stay
Bike stores and rental
Book a tour
The following listings offer multi-day, fully supported guided tours along the Trace in Mississippi. There are additional guided cycling tours offered in some of the communities along the Trace - single and multi-day experiences, and rides on and off the Trace.
Transport and Shuttle Services
There are year-round events and activities along the Natchez Trace; hosted by the various communities and destinations stretching the extent of the Trace across Mississippi. Here are some of our favourite picks to explore and experience by bike.
Local organizations and advocacy groups
Communities of the Natchez Trace
Cycling the Natchez Trace Parkway - your practical guide
When to visit
The Natchez Trace Parkway is an enjoyable year-round cycling destination, with the scenery changing throughout the seasons. Spring and autumn are the most popular times to visit, with summers hot and winters cool for cycling. From Spring wildflowers to autumnal hues, long summer days allowing you to explore further and open winter vistas allowing you to see deep into the forests, you may well want to choose to experience the Natchez Trace many times!
There are five bicycle-only campgrounds located along the Natchez Trace, with three of these located in Mississippi, at:
- Tupelo, milepost 266
- Witch Dance, milepost 234
- Kosciusko, milepost 160
One campground is located in Alabama, and the fifth in Tennessee.
The bicycle-only campgrounds provide primitive camping for bicycle tourists along the Parkway. Each Parkway campground provides tent sites, picnic tables, and fire grates throughout the year. Water is available throughout the year inside all Parkway restrooms - at campgrounds and elsewhere along the Trace. Water at other locations may be unavailable during winter months.
Please be advised that, due to the remote nature of some sections of the Parkway, cell phone service is not always available.
We recommend that all cyclists carry a first aid kit and basic spare parts (tubes, tyre levers etc). Report all incidents involving cyclists to the Natchez Trace Parkway at (800) 305-7417.
Mississippi State bicycle laws
Information about bicycle laws in Mississippi are available from the Mississippi Department of Transportation. In summary, they include:
- motorists must give at least three feet space when passing a cyclist;
- cyclists must ride single file;
- every bike must be equipped with both a front (white) and rear (red) light visible for at least 500 feet;
- bicycles are not permitted on any interstate or controlled-access highway;
- Mississippi does not have mandatory helmet laws; and
- Mississippi does not have laws prohibiting riding a bicycle on a sidewalk.
Cyclists on the Natchez Trace Parkway are also advised to wear high visibility clothing.