Missed the first installment of this series?
We woke up bright and early for our first full day on Parkway. It was just a short jaunt from Natchez State Park to the city of Natchez and the southern terminus. Judging by the NPS map, it looked like there was a lot that we were going to need to leave time for at the middle and end of the trail, so we decided that we would really log some miles today (sorry, but not really missing out on much by speeding through the spine of Mississippi).
Destination: Jeff Busby State Park (mi 193)
Planned Stops: Emerald Mound, Mount Locust Inn, Sunken Trace, Rocky Springs Town Trail, French Camp
Soundtrack: 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson (audiobook)
The boys were excited to revisit the first stop on the Parkway, one we'd explored during our first trip to Natchez: Emerald Mound. It was just as cool the second time around.
Mount Locust was the next stop, but a few miles up the road. A historic inn for Trace Travelers, there is an old house that you can peek into and see what kinds of things it may have been filled with at the time, there's a short path back to a cemetery and a section path through the woods that lets you approach the inn as travelers would have.
Can't pass by the most iconic section of Old Trace - the sunken part - without stopping for a picture. Or, in the case of the boys, without stopping to see if they could scale the sunken walls.
Very cool site of a now abandoned town. There's not much left to see except for a lot of kudzu, the occasional well and - eerily - an old safe. But it's a very cool walk through the woods and just knowing that it was once a town and is not...nothing...adds an element of spook that thoroughly enchanted the kids. After walking the town trail, we found a good spot to spread out our picnic blanket, enjoyed lunch, then tucked the kids into the car for a nice long drive.
We skipped everything between Rocky Springs and French Camp - about 140 miles worth of stuff. The Engineer is an obsessive sign reader and it pained him to pass each of the many pull-offs where we could have read something about the native tribes that used to live here, or the flora and fauna, or - worst of all - Civil War troop movements that occurred at that section of the trail. Glad we skipped all of that to leave time for French Camp, though. It was a doozy of a 1812 traveler's stand, with multiple historic buildings and outbuildings to explore. We stayed as long as possible before heading just a few miles up the road to snag a campsite.
The Natchez Trace Parkway features three free campgrounds, but the spots are on a first come / first serve basis. They do not have hookups or showers, but they are clean and nicely laid out and come on, you can't beat that price. We learned over the course of this trip that early April is the seasonal return migration of Quebecois to Canada after a winter in the southwest. We squeezed into the flock of RVs and set up our tent and enjoyed the sound of French conversation and the kids petted every passing dog.
Next up is Day 3 of our Natchez Trace Parkway adventure! Did you ever chance a vacation at a spot you weren't exactly sure you'd like? How did it turn out? Sharing is caring! Leave a comment and tell me about it. :)
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