Natchez Trace Trip Itinerary – Spring

Day 1 (Saturday)May 13, 2017

We start our 8 day bicycle adventure from the famous Loveless Cafe which is at the terminus of the Trace  just south of Nashville, TN.  We will have an early lunch at the Café including some of their “world-famous” biscuits to carb load for your first day of riding. Those joining  us in Marietta, GA will be transported by 15 passenger van to Nashville/the Cafe.  During the drive you will have time to get acquainted with your fellow touring cyclists.

After our early lunch we will put you on your bicycles and you will start your adventure  at the Northern Terminus of the Trace at Mile post 444 and ride to MP 386 as we make our way south towards our B&B in Linden for the first night.  This is one of the more hilly sections of the Trace.  Along the way you will have an opportunity to see the Double Arch Bridge,  the Gordon House & Ferry Site and Meriwether Lewis’s gravesite. We will be staying at the newly restored historic Commodore Hotel & Café in Linden, TN – “rediscover the magic of small town America”.  Mileage today is 58 miles and you will have climbed 2,700 feet.  Dinner is included.

Day 2 (Sunday)-May 14, 2017

After breakfast in town we will get back on the Trace to resume our journey. During our ride along the Trace today, we will explore  an area of the sunken Trace and the Wichahpi Commemorative Stone Wall just west of Florence , AL.  This incredible wall was built by Tom Hendrix in memory of his great, great-grandmother Te-lah-nay, a member of the Yuchi Indian Tribe which once lived along the Tennessee River.  Tom’s  commemorative tribute to her was  lovingly built by hand.  Although Tom passed away in 2017, the wall still merits a stop so you can be amazed by his feat.  After communing with the indian spirits we will head south again stopping by Colbert Ferry and Bear Creek Mound, the oldest prehistoric site on the Trace.  We will get off of the Trace at MP 302 for the day to spend the night in Belmont at the Belmont Hotel.  The Belmont Hotel is a Georgian style hotel built in 1924 and still has much of its original charm. This will be our longest riding day with mileage today of 84 miles and 2,600 feet of climbing.   Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included for today.

Day 3 (Monday)-May 15, 2017

Today our ride starts at MP 302 and heads south to MP 230 in Houston, MS.  On today’s trek we will pass the Pharr Mounds and the gravesites of 13 unknown Confederate soldiers.  We will take the 17 mile loop to see Elvis’s Birthplace and boyhood haunts and the Tupelo Visitor’s center. Once back on the Trace, our last stop will be the Bynum Burial Mounds before we exit the Trace for the night. Tonight’s accommodations are at the Bridges-Hall Manor B&B, a lovely Victorian era home, built in 1884.  Mileage today is 72 miles with 1,900 feet of climbing.   Continental breakfast, lunch and a dinner, catered by Carol, our hostess at Bridges-Hall Manor, are included.

Day 4 (Tuesday) -May 16, 2017

Today will be an easy recovery day as we ride down to MP 180 and French Camp Academy, a school that caters to the needs of children who come from broken homes.  This is one of the quieter sections of the Trace and a great day to just take in the natural beauty of the countryside.   At this point in the adventure you as we will have cycled more than halfway by the end of the day.  There is a gift shop, some museums, an  ice cream shop and a restaurant for an informal dinner. Mileage for today’s ride is 50 miles and 1500 feet of climbing.   Full southern breakfast,  lunch and dinner are included.

Day 5 (Wednesday)-May 17, 2017

On today’s ride we will make our way from MP 180 down to MP 115 where we will exit into Canton for the night.  Along the way we will stop at the welcome center in Kosciusko at MP 160, birthplace of Oprah Winfrey, travel along the waters of the Ross Barnett Reservoir and stop for a stroll through Cypress Swamp at MP122, one of the Top 20 sites on the Trace.  Our accommodations tonight are at the Hampton Inn as no B&B’s exist locally.  Before dinner at Two Rivers (voted best steakhouse in MS) we can drive around Canton and admire the homes or go to the Mississippi Crafts Center in North Jackson. Mileage today is 65 miles with 700 feet of climbing.  Full hot breakfast and  lunch  and are included.

Day 6 (Thursday)-May 18, 2017

After our continental breakfast at the Hampton, we will resume our journey.  Our travels today  will end in Port Gibson at mile post 40.  In order to stay safe, we will be taking the Jackson by-pass around Jackson, MS because of heavy traffic.  The by-pass is a lovely bike path that travels near the trace.  It starts at the Reservoir overlook and meanders near the Trace before getting back on.  As we head on down the Trace today to Port Gibson we will see more Indian Mounds,  and stop to visit at another Trace Top 20 site, the Sunken Trace, where if you pause to listen, you may imagine hearing the wagons and horses traveling through from days gone by.

Port Gibson, MS is the city declared by General Grant during the Civil War as “too pretty to burn”.  You will be charmed by our B&B for the night.  We will be staying at Isabella which is a Queen Anne  Victorian home built in 1880 and located on historic Church Street.  We will have time before dinner to take a stroll to see the other gracious antebellum homes on Church Street and to see the First Presbyterian Church with the gold “finger” steeple.  The steeple was erected in 1859 in honor of Reverend Butler who often pointed to the heavens during his sermons.  Our hostess at Isabella, Bobbye, is a great  cook and if we have 10 guests she will fix a wonderful dinner for us.  Mileage today is 75 miles with 1,700 feet of climbing.  Continental breakfast, lunch and dinner are included.

Day 7 (Friday)-May 19, 2017

Today before getting back to the Trace we will take the 21 mile loop out to Windsor Ruins and back.  Although only the Corinthian columns remain for this 4 story antebellum mansion built between 1859-1861, it is still a very impressive site.  Once back on the Trace, we have a full day of sight seeing.  The first Top 20 site will be Mount Locust at milepost 15.5.  Built in 1780, this is the only remaining primitive hostelry along the Trace.  At milepost 10.3 we will take a break at another Top 20 site, Emerald Mound.  This is the nations second largest Indian Mound. This ceremonial Indian Mound was used by the Natchez Indians between 1250 – 1600 before the ceremonial center was shifted to Grand Village in Natchez.  Todays ride will end at the Terminus of the Trace at milepost 0.  Our lodging tonight will be at Hope Farm, formerly the Spanish Governor’s Mansion. Built from 1774 – 1789, Hope Farm is one of the homes included on the Natchez Spring Pilgrimage of Antebellum Homes during March and early April.  The mileage  today is  61 miles with 1,200 feet of climbing.  Full southern style breakfast, lunch and dinner are included.

Day 8 (Saturday) -May 20, 2017

Before our departure we will be treated to a wonderful tour of Hope Farm.  Ms. Banta, our hostess at Hope Farm gives a wonderful presentation.  She is a delight to talk to and you will learn much about the history of Natchez from her.  We will then leave Natchez to head to Vicksburg where we will tour Vicksburg Military Park for the rest of the day. You can ride your bikes to tour the park but bear in mind that Vicksburg was built on the bluffs of the Mississippi River so do expect some hills in the park.  The restored Union Gunboat the USS Cairo is not to be missed.  We have dinner  tonight at the Walnut Hills Restaurant to round out the day.  Accommodations tonight are  at the Baer House.  A full southern breakfast and lunch are included.

Day 9 – (Sunday) May 21, 2017

We load up the van by 8 a.m. and head to the Jackson, MS  airport for those departing from there and then on to Atlanta.  We will stop for lunch somewhere around Birmingham and should be back at our point of origin by 6 p.m. Full hot breakfast included. Mileage back to Atlanta is 482 miles – about the same as you bicycled this week  :-)!