County Road 11: The Natchez Trace

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RANKIN COUNTY, Miss. (WTOK) -- County Road 11 is taking you on a special autumn road trip for some great adventures. This time we take a short trip along the Natchez Trace.

The Natchez Trace in Rankin County (Photo Source: WTOK-TV)

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444 mile National Park that runs from Natchez, Mississippi to just south of Nashville, Tennessee. Nearly three-quarters of those miles run through the Magnolia State

"There are opportunities to learn about the history of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee," said Amy Genke, a park ranger in Ridgeland with the National Park Service. "There are opportunities to get out of your car and walk on some short nature trails."

The Old Natchez Trace was a series of paths carved out of the landscape by large animals, American Indians, European Explorers and American settlers. Over time, the paths were originally linked and used for transportation, communication and trade.

Over in the Jackson area, there's several spots to take in such as the Reservoir Overlook, where Mother Nature is just now beginning to show out. There's also Boyd Mounds Site, a 100 foot long ancient mound that archaeologists have found the remains of 41 burials.

One of the favorite stops is the Tupelo-Baldcypress Swamp, which features a trail leading through an abandoned channel. You'll see all types of vegetation and trees and it's a great place to enjoy God's handiwork as well.

"I honestly feel that the Natchez Trace Parkway is one of the hidden gems of the National Parks Service," said Genke. "It's just one of those areas that not a lot of people know about."

There's literally a little bit of everything on the Trace. Historic properties, old Civil War battlefields, countless numbers of plants, over 200 animal species, as well as hiking and horse trails. Perhaps the best part is the unmatched scenery you get as a bonus for taking the road less traveled. You can also get from Point A to Point B by traveling the Trace, but take this advice.

"To really get the experience of the Parkway, you need to slow down and take your time," said Genke.

Perhaps the best part of the Natchez Trace Parkway is the unmatched scenery, especially this time of the year. It gives us a chance to slow down, take a break and enjoy what's here in our own back yard. Sometimes, it's much better to take the road less traveled.

Natchez Trace Parkway was authorized by Congress in 1938 and was the 9th most visited unit in the national park system last year.

If you'd like to learn more about the trace, you can call 1-800-305-7417.

You can also visit www.nps.gov-natr.