Ridgeland has so much to explore, both inside and out. For the outdoor lover, cycling has become a popular hobby amongst those in Ridgeland, specifically along the trails of the Natchez Trace. Keep reading to learn what attracts so many people to the Natchez Trace trails each year to make this one of the most traveled National Parkways in America.
Natchez Trace History
Today, The Natchez Trace is an unhurried route that people can enjoy for both its cultural and natural history. The Natchez Trace was once a primitive trail carved out by Native Americans from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. This trail stretching over 400 miles served as a helpful pathway to many, including Meriwether Lewis and Andrew Jackson, until the popularity of the steamboat in the early 1800s became the best mode of travel.
In 1938, the Natchez Trace was preserved by Congress as a National Park to commemorate its history and preserve the trail. The Parkway now runs alongside the original trail, surrounded by scenery such as forest, canebrakes, ridges, and swamps. There are also several recreational sites along the way for picnics such as the Yockanookany picnic area, Ratliff Ferry, River Bend picnic area, and Cypress Swamp.
The Natchez Trace Century Ride
Every spring, Ridgeland, Mississippi holds one of the largest cycling events in the state with over 700 cyclists to travel the length of the Natchez Trace trail. This year’s ride will take place on May 5th at 7 a.m. at the Ridgeland Recreation Center at Old Trace Park. Cyclists will be able to choose from distances of 25, 50, 62, and 100 miles, each stretch including “energizer” stops filled with food and fun every 10-15 miles. This is a scenic bike ride perfect for all ages and ability levels. At the finish line is “Ridgeland Rockin’ after the Ride” which includes more food, entertainment, music, and door prizes. Among the door prizes is the chance to win a new bike.
If you love cycling and the outdoors, this is one event you’ll want to be a part of!
Aside from the Natchez Trace Century Ride, the Natchez Trace trail is always available to ride throughout the year either alone, with friends, or family. Just be sure to always review the safety information before heading out. Also, consider joining an informal weekday ride with other cyclists!
Natchez Trace Trail Tips
What to Bring
- Water to keep you hydrated for a day
- Food such as Cliff bars to keep you energized
- Phone in case of emergencies
- Insect repellant
- Map of the trails
- Park service’s emergency phone number (800.300.7275)
North to South or South to North?
When looking at which direction you want to travel, consider:
- Wind Direction- you’ll want the wind blowing at your back rather than in your face.
- Uphill or Downhill- North to South is more downhill than South to North but it also depends on whether you start at the tips or not.
- RV Traffic- RVs will be going South in the fall for winter and North for springtime so consider planning opposite of RVs for less traffic on the trail.
- Logistics- how and where will you be arriving and leaving the trail?
Where to Gear Up
If you don’t already have the proper cycling gear, there are two great shops to stop by: The Bike Crossing at 115 W Jackson St, Suite 1-D and Indian Cycle Fitness at 677 S Pear Orchard Road. At these two great shops, you can purchase the best bike for the trail, get repairs done on your bike, and even be fitted for the perfect bike for your build and riding preferences.
The main Natchez Trace trail isn’t the only trail you can explore in Ridgeland. The city built a Multi-Use Path for cyclists, joggers, walkers, etc to serve as an alternate path in the event of heavy traffic or a new view of scenery. The path is over 14 miles long and runs parallel to the parkway from Harbor Drive to Rice Road to Highland Colony Parkway. Side trails will lead you to shops and businesses to enjoy along the way. View the map here before setting out on your trip so you know what to expect.
Ridgeland, Mississippi is known for its wide array of outdoor activities. Aside from cycling the Natchez Trace trail, you can also hike, camp, kayak, and explore in the area. Of course, if you ever feel the need to wander back indoors, you can find plenty of entertainment such as shopping and dining to add balance to your Ridgeland excursion. If you have any questions or need to find a place to stop along the way, be sure to visit Ridgeland Visitors Center at 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 6006 or call (601) 605-5252.
We’ll see you on the trails!