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Getting to and from the Natchez Trace

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Getting to and from the Natchez Trace

Old 12-22-18, 05:51 PM
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madsen89
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Getting to and from the Natchez Trace

I'm in the process of planning next year's tour that includes the entirety of the Natchez Trace Pkwy. There's lots of advice/idea/suggestions regarding the Trace so not asking about that here. What I am interested in is getting to and from the endpoints. I'll be starting out in St. Louis and riding to the northern end outside of Nashville. What I do when I finish at the southern end is still unclear but I was thinking of pedaling to Texarkana and taking the train back home to Chicago from there. I'm looking for route suggestions for both legs.

The reason I plan to go to Texarkana and not back to Jackson, MS to catch the train is that I have a goal to pedal in all 50 states and picking up LA and TX would be really nice since I'm so close. I'm not opposed to missing TX or a portion of the Trace if there are other great alternatives. I just don't have time to pedal all the way back to Chicago so I have to end where I can pick up a train. This will also be my first time traveling through the southern US. I haven't yet decided on whether or not I would camp or CC tour though I am leaning toward fully loaded camping. This would also take place in early May so I hope to avoid most of the heavy tourist season.
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Old 12-22-18, 11:45 PM
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I usually finish up by train but i have rented cars, even U-Haul trucks one-way to get back home after completing a trip.

It is a pretty bike ride from Natchez to McComb, MS. Catch the train there. I would not do the Texarkana route from Natchez and expect to have any fun. I live in Louisiana and also hope to bike to all lower 48 states. I have 35 so far. Guess what I don't have yet. Yep, Texas. Right next door. It's doable, people do it all the time. Never heard of anyone enjoying it. If you don't care about having fun on vacation, go to Texas through Louisiana on your bike.
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Old 12-23-18, 07:56 AM
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What is traffic like on Natchez Trace? Is it loaded with RVs? I've read a little about the Trace, but never found any commentary on this... yet.
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Old 12-23-18, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by NoControl View Post
What is traffic like on Natchez Trace? Is it loaded with RVs? I've read a little about the Trace, but never found any commentary on this... yet.
The NTP is not loaded with anything really. Traffic can be heavy at "rush" hours near Jackson and Tupelo but easy to avoid those hours. Commercial vehicles are not allowed, not even a pickup truck with a tool box attached to the bed. And the Trace doesn't really go anywhere a motorist would want to get to in a timely manner, so most RVers exit ASAP. Most of the good stuff is park-and-hike to get to and most RVers just aren't those kind of people. No water parks, nothing for kids to do. And the campgrounds ON the Trace are primitive for the most part. Running water, toilets, no showers. And the speed limit is 45mph I believe.

I have never been bothered by traffic there, except Tupelo area I hit at a dumb time of day. I've biked it 3x, motorcycled is once, driven it a few more. Pretty place. Very calm, mostly remote.
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Old 12-23-18, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
The NTP is not loaded with anything really. Traffic can be heavy at "rush" hours near Jackson and Tupelo but easy to avoid those hours. Commercial vehicles are not allowed, not even a pickup truck with a tool box attached to the bed. And the Trace doesn't really go anywhere a motorist would want to get to in a timely manner, so most RVers exit ASAP. Most of the good stuff is park-and-hike to get to and most RVers just aren't those kind of people. No water parks, nothing for kids to do. And the campgrounds ON the Trace are primitive for the most part. Running water, toilets, no showers. And the speed limit is 45mph I believe.

I have never been bothered by traffic there, except Tupelo area I hit at a dumb time of day. I've biked it 3x, motorcycled is once, driven it a few more. Pretty place. Very calm, mostly remote.
Thanks, JB. Nice assessment. I am much obliged.
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Old 12-23-18, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
I usually finish up by train but i have rented cars, even U-Haul trucks one-way to get back home after completing a trip.

It is a pretty bike ride from Natchez to McComb, MS. Catch the train there. I would not do the Texarkana route from Natchez and expect to have any fun. I live in Louisiana and also hope to bike to all lower 48 states. I have 35 so far. Guess what I don't have yet. Yep, Texas. Right next door. It's doable, people do it all the time. Never heard of anyone enjoying it. If you don't care about having fun on vacation, go to Texas through Louisiana on your bike.
Thanks for the advice. I hadn't considered renting a car, but I'll look into it. I can certainly try for TX at a later date. Perhaps a better choice would be to ride down to New Orleans and pick up the train there. The closest stations to Natchez that allow bikes to be carried on are Jackson, MS and Hammond, LA. If taking a car back, Baton Rouge becomes a good option too.

I'm at 35 as well, but that includes DC and HI.
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Old 12-23-18, 01:11 PM
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Old 12-23-18, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by madsen89 View Post
Thanks for the advice. I hadn't considered renting a car, but I'll look into it. I can certainly try for TX at a later date. Perhaps a better choice would be to ride down to New Orleans and pick up the train there. The closest stations to Natchez that allow bikes to be carried on are Jackson, MS and Hammond, LA. If taking a car back, Baton Rouge becomes a good option too.

I'm at 35 as well, but that includes DC and HI.
Ha! Nice. When I was touring in the NE it would have been easy to skip RI, but I spent three days going out of my way to get it "just in case" I could get all 48 some day. Imaging just getting RI from New Orleans now! I would give up that dream fo sho. As it is I am not that devoted to the idea but at least it is still an option and something to dream of.

In a pinch you could ship the bike UPS/FedEx from McComb and take the train yourself, in fact, if you boxed the bike yourself I can not imagine Amtrak telling you NO to bringing it as luggage. I have always found Amtrak to be very accommodating with bikes. There is so much luggage space on a train and no weight restrictions like airplanes.

It is an easy bike ride from Mobile to Hammond as well, and also very easy to get from Hammond to NOLA by bike. So you have options.

Cheers

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Old 12-24-18, 10:11 AM
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Did I miss the northern approach route recommendation? I'd start with Adventure Cycling's Great Rivers South and adapt if necessary.
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Old 12-24-18, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Did I miss the northern approach route recommendation? I'd start with Adventure Cycling's Great Rivers South and adapt if necessary.
I've done the NTP that way. Land Between the Lakes to the northern NTP terminus is pretty easily done. I have my old route maps online somewhere. Will post if I think about it later.
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Old 06-15-19, 02:28 PM
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Thanks for all of the great advice.

For various reasons, the trip didn't happen this year, but it is most definitely on my list for another year, perhaps 2020. When I do it, the current plan would be to take the train from Chicago to NOLA, follow the ACA Great Rivers South route to IL where I would pick up the TransAmerica for a short bit and take the train home from Carbondale, IL I might just keep riding through IN to home, but that might be outside my time limit.
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Old 06-15-19, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by madsen89 View Post
Thanks for all of the great advice.

For various reasons, the trip didn't happen this year, but it is most definitely on my list for another year, perhaps 2020. When I do it, the current plan would be to take the train from Chicago to NOLA, follow the ACA Great Rivers South route to IL where I would pick up the TransAmerica for a short bit and take the train home from Carbondale, IL I might just keep riding through IN to home, but that might be outside my time limit.


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