Gatlinburg ... a Practically Unplanned Adventure! June 27 - July 5, 2009
About This Page: This is a discussion on Gatlinburg ... a Practically Unplanned Adventure! June 27 - July 5, 2009 within the Globetrotting: General Trip Reports, part of the PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel; Just found the TR, Christie. I've never visited that area (or anything like it) so I will be reading with ...
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For those of you who have never been, I highly recommend it. While we focused on the outdoorsy aspects of the area, that's by no means all there is to do there. With all the sports, shopping, and museums there is definitely a way to satisfy everybody's tastes.
Originally Posted by pamcarey
Great start! This is really interesting. I don't really know anything about the Natchez Trace Parkway. What states does it run through?
It starts in Natchez, MS (in the Southwest corner of the state) and runs Northeast, going through the very Northwest corner of Alabama, and ending just south of Nashville, TN. A total of 444 miles, although there are plenty of highways that intersect it, so you can pick and choose which sections you would like to explore. Here is the official NPS website for it ( I should have included that in the beginning!) : Natchez Trace Parkway (U.S. National Park Service)
Feeling much better after our meal (and being able to make up a little more time ), we loaded up again and headed north. Our next stop was at the Black Belt Overlook, milepost 251.9. We had stopped here back in ‘06, but I didn't have my digital camera then, and Jay didn't take any pictures that I can remember. So I wanted to stop again just so I could take some pictures "of my very own". Of course I had forgotten that the view isn't as impressive as what it sounds like. But anyway here are the pictures:
The interpretive marker:
And the views, for what they're worth:
Jay didn't get out, he just let me take my pictures, and then we drove on. He did, however, want to know what that pink post-it note said that was on the sign. I had thought it might be something cool like somebody was doing a scavenger hunt of some type, but sadly nothing that exciting - just a Jesus advertisement.
Next we stopped at the Old Town Overlook, just outside Tupelo, milepost 263.9. You'll quickly notice that this site is not as impressive as it sounds either! But here are the pictures I took:
The interpretive marker:
A commemorative marker relating to the struggle to acquire lands and passage through various Indian nations (sorry it's so hard to read the first part):
Looking up the Trace from the Overlook
I kind of like this one for some reason ... (it was taken of the same general area as the picture above, just a slightly different vantage point)
Back behind the sign and the stone marker was an area where you could join up with part of the Natchez National Scenic Trail. (The sign said something about a creek, so I walked back there to see if you could see any water.) There are a few points along the Trace where a hiking trail has been constructed and maintained. Unfortunately they are not all connected so if you want to do this you would have quite a lot of driving to do! Plus, today it was way too hot for hiking, considering that part of the trail goes through open fields. It would probably be a nice outing on a cool fall day, though.
Jay noticed that the sign here also had a pink post-it note on it, so his curiosity got the better of him and he had to get out for a closer look:
For all you inquiring minds:
Just a couple of miles up the road we stopped at the Tupelo Visitor Center. This is the overall headquarters for the Trace, and they have really done a nice job with this facility. It is small, but has a lot of stuff inside. On the floor was a black line which represents the Trace. Along the line are circles. When you stand on one, it triggers a light to come on, which shines on the floor in front of you a silhouette of the name of that place on the map. Pretty cool. All along the wall were pictures to look at and buttons to push to learn about the history of the Trace. Joshua especially liked the main display panel - each button you pushed would play a different video. There was a small gift shop here but we didn't buy anything on this trip. Outside there were several people dressed in period (frontier) clothing, giving some demonstrations. I guess you could call it Pioneer Days or something like that. It would have been nice to have had extra time to look around at everything, but I wanted to keep us moving so we got back in the truck, and had a light snack for the road.
Because we had been moving along so leisurely at these last two stops, we had to skip over three short trails as well as another overlook point to try to make up some time (we were 55 minutes behind). Never fear, I'm sure you'll be reading about at least some of them the next time we head this way! But I felt it would be a shame to have to bypass all the trails in this section, so I chose Donivan Slough for us to walk, Milepost 283.3. Here's my pictures:
The interpretive sign in the parking lot:
To the left were these steps leading down to a picnic table (at the far back left) and the beginning of the loop trail:
The beginning of the trail proper:
I liked the reflection here:
And the ferns in this one:
The interpretive signs along this trail had drawings of the actual things you were looking at on the trail, which I thought was very nice. The tree they talk about on this sign is the one in the picture above.
Jay just couldn't believe the size of this fly he noticed, so he made me take a couple of pictures of it, one with and one without the flash. It would have been nicer to have something to show the size of it, but it was like a very large horsefly.
And I liked the way this mushroom was peeking out from among the leaves, with its bright color.
I told you we liked trees!
As is the case with most of these trails along the Trace, we finished much quicker than the time allotted on the guidemap/interpretive sign. So with that, and not stopping at all the other trails I had wanted to do, we were able to get right back on schedule. Finally we crossed into Alabama and were delighted as we approached Colbert Ferry, one of our favorite stops along the Trace. I'll pick up the story there next time!
Thanks. We have quite a few red-capped mushrooms in this area, but they are still nowhere near as common as the white-capped ones, which seem to be everywhere! It was the bright color that caught my eye, especially surrounded by the brown leaves.
We drove a little further to Colbert Ferry, milepost 327 to use the restroom and have a snack. I love how each time we stop here we explore a little further. In ‘04 we had our snack at the entrance to this area because that's where we saw some picnic tables. Then in ‘06 my Trace book mentioned a picnic area by the river which was "expansive". So we went that direction that time. Today we decided to drive the other direction - the sign pointing that way said "Old Ferry Site" so I wanted to go and see how much you could see from there. First we pulled off the road in a parking area that had this sign:
And here is the view along the tree row, the direction we were going to be walking:
I don't know what Jay's doing ... I think he was being funny, not thinking that I would really take the picture!
Along the short pathway were some signs that were in dire need of a cleaning :
And then we came into this clearing, which was the site of the home/inn:
The main sign had said something about a short trail, so we turned to the right and kind of followed along the edge of the clearing to look for it. At the far side, it looked like a path went into the woods but it wasn't an official trail and the hillside dropped off so we went back. Jay and Joshua found this cute little fellow sitting atop a stump in the clearing:
Checking along the opposite side of the clearing eventually turned up the entrance to the trail. Joshua was still looking at the little frog, so we had to wait for him to come join us:
Then we started out on our journey. I started snapping a lot of pictures, thinking this was going to be some really cool walk we were going on:
But then we got to a point where the trail was too grown up to continue any further. It looked like it had been quite some time since anybody had done any clearing along the trail, and there was too much poison ivy to fight with. So we turned around and headed back. When we reached the clearing, of course we walked the short way across to get back to the truck. Just after walking past a tree, I thought I heard a faint buzzing sound. So I stopped, backed up, and heard it much louder. Jay had gone ahead of me, so I called to him to come back and see if he could hear the same thing. As he got closer, he said Oh there's a big beehive above you in that tree! You can bet I got out of there pretty quick! At a safe distance I stopped and turned around to look - there was a huge swarm of bees around the hole in the side of the tree. Believe it or not, I had never been around a bee hive like that before. I knew Jay could get a better picture of this with his camera, so I asked him to go back and do so while Joshua and I waited a little ways off. Here's his pictures:
Here's more of my pictures now - Joshua standing in front of the tree row on the way back to the truck:
Well after that scare with the bees I was ready to move on. We drove down to the end of the road, where there was another parking area overlooking the river. This whole site is on the Tennessee River which has been dammed to create Pickwick Lake. It is obviously very popular with local fishermen and other boaters. Here's the pictures I took:
The interpretive marker which is completely lost on me ...
Perhaps there used to be something on the upper portion of the sign?
And the views:
The huge house on the other side of the river:
The next thing we did was drive back to the main entrance to use the restroom. I noticed that the ranger's station/visitor center/information desk area was still open. It never has been on our previous trips so we went in to look around. There were a few items for sale. We almost got a few things (I don't remember now what they were) but changed our minds. But while we were in there the ranger on duty went in the back and came back out with a Junior Ranger booklet for Joshua. That was very nice, and I was surprised to see that such an extensive booklet was free! It has several activities in it for kids of different ages. Lots of different kinds of things for them to do to learn about the Natchez Trace. Some of the activities were directly related to some of the stops along the way, and some were general. You had to complete the activities for your age group, then write a letter to the Superintendent, and once a Ranger looks over your booklet you can get a badge. It's too bad we didn't have this booklet before we started our journey, or we could have been working on it all along our drive. Even more disappointing was when I read that there are only 2 places along the Trace to show your booklet to a Ranger - Tupelo and Mount Locust, which is near Natchez. You can mail the booklet to them for verification, but I didn't want to do that. The good thing is that since we live along the Trace, and drive on it when we go to visit family in Natchez, we can turn it in at any time. So that will be an after-vacation project!
When we left the ranger station, they immediately locked the doors, so it was a good thing we stopped when we did or we would have missed it once again! Before leaving this area we drove down to the waterfront, but didn't stop because it was so crowded. Also because we wanted to get back on the road. This is a favorite spot for the Canadian Geese, and we took a few pictures of them:
I love how that one guy in the back is standing up so tall -
Yeah, it was definitely something I'd never seen before! There were only a couple of stickies on each sign. They looked clean and not faded, so they had probably just been put up that morning or maybe the day before at the earliest. Anyway, it just adds another interesting story to our trip!