Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Natchez Trace Parkway: A Few Thoughts on Its Bike Friendliness

Before we move onto our next adventure getting out of Nashville and on to Bowling Green, KY, I wanted to note a few things about the bike friendliness of the Natchez Trace.  They really sell it as a great place to bike, and in general, it is.  However, there are some things you should know if you're doing a self-supported trip.  There are only three full-service (with running water) campgrounds on the entire Trace and a scant five bike primitive campsites that, as noted before, are not clearly marked.  Also, they should tell you to bring your own food...unless you really want to add miles to your trip.

Water along the Trace can also be an issue.  There are a few additional places besides the full-service campgrounds to get water, but if you don't plan correctly, you could be drinking water you've purified from a Mississippi stream (as our friend Julian had to).  Sorry, but the water in Mississippi was pretty brackish.

Finally, in the section where the drivers are most aggressive (Tupelo), there are no signs indicating that it is state law that drivers give cyclists three feet of room.  You'd think that if it were a problem area, they'd try to make it better for cyclists.  There weren't many Park Rangers driving about, which could help slow some of the drivers, and the few cops I saw were speeding along themselves, without lights ablazing, so I didn't think they were there to make the roads safer for us.

Yet despite all this, it was a really beautiful and pleasant ride.  All the Park Rangers that we spoke with were quite friendly and helpful.  We even got a bike story from one of them.  It's worth the trip, but forewarned is forearmed.

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