October 27-31, 2014 – Here we go through all the attractions I saw within Mileposts 400-300 of the Natchez Trace Parkway. I always took my time and saw as many side attractions and historical sites as I possibly could during the whole 444 mile scenic drive. Fall Hollow Campground at Milepost 391 is where I stayed and went back in the car to explore this section.
Milepost 442 – Northern Terminus – I entered the Parkway from the Nashville side, heading south. There was a nice big pull-off here great for getting this picture and I thought the road ahead looked pretty good even though I’d heard the fall colors are not at peak yet.
Maybe not at peak overall, but there are still vibrant outbursts here and there and I thought Kismet and Serendipity looked pretty good among these fall colors.
Milepost 438 – Birdsong Hollow and Double Arch Bridge was my first sightseeing stop. There is a pedestrian lane so that you can cross or just get out far enough to see the view from there. There’s a large parking lot on the right and I had no problem getting the motorhome in and out of it. I must say, though, that the roads are not crowded yet, although I’ve heard they will be as this is such a popular leaf-peeping place.
And here’s the view from the left side. The height of the bridge here is 145′, but it sure seems higher than that when you’re standing here looking down. I got dizzy and had to step back! That road on the right has a large pull-off that I heard about where you could get good pictures of the double arched bridge. After crossing the bridge, there’s a sign directing you to TN Hwy. 96. At the bottom of the hill there is a parking area with a view looking up at the entire length of the bridge.
And here’s that view. I’ve always been fascinated with bridges and this is a really neat one. Also appropriate for my first stop since it is the nation’s first double arch bridge. It won the Presidential Award for Design Excellence the year after it was completed in 1994.
Only problem after that was there was no place for me in my 35′ motorhome and toad to turn around, so I turned right onto a highway going parallel to the Parkway, and then saw that would take me into Leiper’s Fork, the next stop I had planned anyway, so I just continued on.
Milepost 428 – Leiper’s Fork – I read that this village was settled by pioneering families in the 1790s and still has many late 19th century buildings and homes. So I decided I at least wanted to drive through it. I was told not to miss a country style meal at Puckett’s Grocery, but there was definitely nowhere to park the RV, so I continued on to my destination campground at Fall Hollow Campground and figured I’d come back in the car when I had more time and room.
Here’s Hwy. 46 going past Puckett’s Grocery. I just have to say, this place held no real interest for me. I never saw any evidence of the 1790s and when I asked about a visitor’s center to get more info, I was told there was none here and it was really part of Franklin, TN, another 10 minute drive, but I decided to pass on that. I ate at Puckett’s and it was good for sure, but I can’t say for sure it was worth the 30 mile drive back.
Milepost 426 – War of 1812 Memorial – The U.S. Army cleared this section of the “Natchez Road” in 1801-02 and continued clearing southward with the consent of the Chickasaw Nation.
The monument says it memorializes the War of 1812 soldiers buried along the Old Natchez Trace trail and the service of volunteers that helped establish American independence. I thought the tree here was one of the most beautiful I’d seen so far. The fall colors of the trees are a definite attraction in themselves!
Milepost 411.8 – Water Valley Overlook – I stopped at every overlook and most of them were well worth it, like this one. No problem parking or getting through in the motorhome.
Milepost 408 – Gordon House Historic Site and Duck River Ferry – Built in 1818, the Gordon House is one of only two surviving historic buildings on the Parkway. You can’t get inside the house, but it’s a nice scenic area and a 1/2 mile scenic trail will take you to the Duck River where the ferry once ran, but there’s nothing left of it to see. There’s good parking for RVs in the lot around the main lot and info center.
Milepost 405 – Jackson Falls – The trail is short (900′) and is paved the whole way and has handrails, but it’s still pretty steep. But the falls are beautiful down here, with an amphitheater effect and it’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular walks along the parkway. Parking lot is plenty big enough for RVs.
Milepost 403 – Old Trace Walk – I love that there is so much of the Old Trace preserved and that you can walk or drive on portions of it. There are signs with interesting tales of people who made this area their home and reminds us of when this was a sprawling wilderness “where only Indians, outlaws and wild animals were at home.” Before their tragic forced removal by the government along the Trail of Tears, the Chickasaw tribe permitted establishment of inns at intervals through their lands but allowed only Indians as proprietors. There was such a stop called “Sheboss Stand” where an Indian husband who spoke little English would answer questions only by pointing to his wife and say, “She boss.”
I enjoyed every one of these walks that I did. The peace and quiet and muted colors were so calming to my soul. There is a sign by a pull-off here (between Mileposts 403-404) with a large sign saying “Old Trace Walk” that invites you to imagine the ordeal of early 1800s travelers who had to make 20-30 miles a day on foot or horseback. Today, a 10-15 minutes stroll will take you to the end of the trail and provide a change of pace from driving. I highly recommend getting on some of these. The sunken paths make it easy to imagine all the footprints, horses hooves and wagons that went before.
Milepost 401 – Tobacco Farm – I enjoyed the stop here and walking through the barn where they actually had tobacco drying. I laughed to myself when I thought it stunk and I was glad I quit smoking. 🙂 There is a two mile stretch of the Old Trace behind the barn that you can drive on and get back to the Parkway.