Unwind at Natchez Trace State Park
The sky was blue and sunshine sparkled on the calm water at Brown’s Creek Lake at Natchez Trace State Park during my most recent visit. A pair of kayakers quietly worked their way along a heavily forested point while an angler on shore landed pan-sized bluegill for dinner. What more could you ask for? Well, there is a lot more.
The scenery here is particularly impressive because after the forest was cleared for farming the sandy fine clay soil eventually eroded terribly. Deep gullies appeared and farming became impossible. By the 1930s it must have looked like a moonscape.
The dramatic land reclamation evident today was part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” Two million loblolly pine, black locust and yellow poplar seedlings were planted during the spring of 1936. Workers built countless check dams for erosion control and lakes for outdoor recreation.
Along the shores of Cub Creek Lake are hiking trails, a swimming area, a picnic shelter, a boat dock with rowboats and pedal boat rentals, campgrounds, rustic cabins and a classic recreation lodge built during the 1930s.
The famed park is also the site of Tennessee State Parks 75th Anniversary celebration on October 27 from 3:00 p.m. till 8:00 p.m. Family friendly activities have a fall/historic theme that includes music-making, square dancing, hayrides and guided fall color hikes.
While you’re there, be sure to check out Pin Oak Lake, the largest of the four lakes at 690 acres. Ranger-led pontoon boat rides leave the dock to enjoy vivid fall foliage and savor the outdoors on weekends during October with the exception of October 27. Each cruise is free and carries nine people but you’ll need to reserve your seat for a morning or sunset ride by emailing Alisha.Weber@tn.gov.
Pin Oak Lake has an RV campground with 79 sites, five camping cabins, a modern inn with 47 single, double and suite units, swimming pool, restaurant, two boat ramps, hiking trails and 10 lake front villas.
Natchez Trace State Park, Wildlife Management Area and Forest together encompass 48,000 acres. Bird watching, backpacking, mountain biking on multi-use fire trails and ATV riding on designated trails are popular ways to experience the outdoors. There’s a regulation pistol firing range. Hunting is available on all the state forest and part of the park property with the same dates as state seasons.
I often travel portions of the Natchez Trace Parkway which follows the route of a famous wilderness road connecting Nashville on the Cumberland River with Natchez on the Mississippi River during the early 1800s. So I was especially curious about the park’s name.
I learned in the museum at the Natchez Trace State Park Visitor Center that traders referred to as “Kaintucks” sold goods that were floated down the Mississippi River before the invention of steamboats. They were forced to make the long trip home overland on the Natchez Trace with pockets full of coins and robbers lying in wait.
No wonder they looked for routes less likely to draw murderous thieves – like the western spur that traveled through what is now Natchez Trace State Park on the way to the western portions of modern-day Tennessee and Kentucky.
So come for a day, a weekend or a week to see for yourself what a terrific place this is to unwind!
For more information call 800-250-8616 or 731-968-3742 or click here.