More than a scenic route, the Natchez Trace Parkway offers adventure for all in Mississippi

The Natchez Trace Parkway follows a route along the original Natchez Trace, a bustling trade route with origins spanning back to the 1800s. Throughout the year, families make their way through Mississippi, meandering down the Trace stopping to take in the views, hike, bike, camp and explore nature.

Tishomingo State Park encompasses 1,530 acres at the far Northeast corner of the state. With trails ranging in distance from ¾ to 3 miles and featuring scenic natural springs, waterfalls, rocky creeks, streams, cliffs and rock walls, Tishomingo is sure to enchant all ages. Bear Creek runs throughout the park and can itself be explored by canoe on one of the float trips offered. Haynes Lake, a 45-acre fresh water lake, offers ample opportunity for fishing. Make camp at one of the 15 primitive campsites, 62 RV campsites or seven furnished cabins.

Jeff Busby Park includes an 18-site campground, picnic tables, restrooms, trails, exhibits and an overlook atop Little Mountain - one of the highest elevations in Mississippi. On a clear day, you can see views up to 20 miles away atop Little Mountain. Near the top of the mountain is a half mile-long nature loop trail for exploring.

As visitors make their way to the Southern terminus of the Natchez Trace, favorite stops for photo opportunities include Cypress Swamp at Milepost 122, Windsor Ruins at Milepost 30 and Emerald Mound at Milepost 10.3. Cypress Swamp offers visitors a self-guided half-mile tour on a raised boardwalk over a stunning water tupelo/bald cypress swamp. Keep a sharp eye out as you might see an alligator or two while you’re there.

Windsor Ruins is located about 10 miles southwest of Port Gibson. The ruins consist of 23 standing Corinthian columns of the largest antebellum Greek Revival mansion ever built in the state. The mansion stood from 1861 to 1890, when it was destroyed by fire on the third floor from a lit cigar. The 2.1-acre site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and was designated a Mississippi Landmark in 1985.

Emerald Mound, built between 1300 and 1600 A.D., is the second largest Indian temple mound in the United States. The mound is 35 feet tall, with two smaller mounds on top, and was once a ceremonial gathering place for tribes from outlying villages. To see it, exit the Natchez Trace Parkway at Mississippi Highway 553 and go west one mile.

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