The Natchez Trace Parkway, April 2018

My wife and I rode this in April of 2018. We started the ride on a Tuesday from Pasquo TN, where the Loveless Cafe resides (https://www.lovelesscafe.com/).  For this ride, we trailer-ed the motorcycle from Tucson to a local spot in Tennessee, where we parked and unloaded the bike to start the ride.

This ride totaled 888 miles, 444 miles south to Natchez, and then back to Pasquo, TN. We rode for 4 days, riding three hours south on day one, stopping in Tupelo, MS. The second day, we rode 5 hours to end the day in Natchez, MS. Then we repeated the same to head back north to Tennessee. Each direction, we stopped in Tupelo, MS.

After having an awesome breakfast at the Loveless Cafe, and have nice chats with others about riding the Trace, we started off around 10 in the morning. We hardly saw traffic during the entire ride. Most of day one, we saw no other vehicles for long periods. There were thick clouds that made us worry about rains, we had already trimmed an hour off the ride to get heading southward to avoid wet roads.  We heard, when we returned, we did the right thing. Heavy rains had hit the area just after we left.

The Natchez Trace is steeped in history. We chose to ride more than visit. But we did stop at 3 or 4 of the many historical markers along the way.  Being a parkway, the Natchez has no commercial traffic, no stops signs or traffic lights. The parkway is shared with touring bicyclists.  The shoulders are groomed, grassy and natural growth. Along the way we spotted several wild turkeys in the open grassy areas.

At the end of day two, the Trace ends in Natchez, MS. In Natchez, we stayed at the Natchez Grand Hotel, which sits directly on the Mississippi river. Natchez is a nice small town to visit, an adventure into history itself.

The weather was okay to good in the four days ride. We ran from cloudy skies at the get go, for about an hour. But then had sunny skies the rest of day one. Day two was perfect for riding, sunny, mid-60s temperatures, dry roads. Leaving Natchez on day three, we really never saw the sun behind thick clouds and misty rains. At one point we considered stopping early as it seemed it was getting worse and worse. But it didn’t rain hard enough to cause us to stop, or even use the rain gear. Day four was another perfect riding day. It was literally hit or miss on the clouds. The temperature never dropped below 62 and never higher than 79. This is perfect for touring riding.

At the center of the Trace, is Tupelo, MS. In Tupelo, there’s lots of tourism for Elvis fans, this place being where he was born and lived for the 1st eight years of his life. We stayed here twice, once on the way down and once on the way back.

Before riding out of Tupelo on the morning of day four, Friday, I stopped at the Honda of Tupelo to have the motorcycle looked at. The Goldwing normally has a ride, smooth as butter. But the day before I noticed it felt like it was dragging a bit. Larry, the mechanic there for more than 40 years, ended up changing the air filter and spark plugs. When he opened the bike to pull the filters, a 90 minute process on the wing, he found a mouse had been nesting in the filter. So, literally after “getting the cob webs out of the bike”, we hit the road at noon, much later than normal, but still enough time to end the 4 day trip in Pasquo, just in time to have dinner at the Loveless Cafe.

This ride is one of the better we’ve done. The Blue Ridge Parkway ride was a little better, however. (click here to see my blog post on that ride in September, 2016).   The 1st 200 miles, starting from the North end in TN, are superb. The roads are smooth as glass, traffic is light, the curves and hills are magazine perfect.  Riding into Natchez, MS, is a nice trophy for this ride. The town there is a good visit. However the traffic on the parkway picks up around Tupelo. There’s even an entrance and exit ramp to the I55 highway there. The parkway in that area is used a little more by local travelers, weekend boaters, pulling trailers to the reservoir near Ridgeland MS. The road gets a little straighter. During our journey, there was some resurfacing roadwork near the last 50 miles of the ride. If you’re time limited, riding the 1st 200 miles to Tupelo, and back to Pasquo, for 400 miles would be a nice ride.

All photos taken from the ride are posted online at Google Photos ( https://photos.app.goo.gl/Y1HA78mzvYhZyUhDA )

Along the Natchez Trace

Along the Natchez Trace

The Pharr Mounds, Natchez Trace

The Pharr Mounds, Natchez Trace

The National Park website for the Natchez Trace Parkway: https://www.natcheztracetravel.com/

Roadrunner Magazine had an article in the April magazine on the Natchez Trace Parkway, http://mailchi.mp/rrmotorcycling/april-touring-news-70901?e=1b75b72de0