Bicycling the Natchez Trace

Each year hundreds of people bike the entire 444 miles or a section of the Natchez Trace Parkway. One of the most common questions asked in the planning process is which direction should we bike: North to South or South to North.

There are several factors to consider.

  1. Prevailing Wind - generally the wind flows west to east. The Trace actually goes southwest to northeast so biking South to North will put the wind at your back more often than in your face.
  2. Uphill or Downhill - the northern half of the Trace is hillier and has a higher elevation. Elevation at the northern terminus is 710 feet and the elevation at the southern terminus is 160 feet. So, there is approximately 550 feet more descent than ascent going North to South - an average of only 15 inches a mile! The more important question is: if you are biking the entire Trace, do you want to bike the hilliest section at the beginning or end of the trip.
  3. RV Traffic - the only large vehicles that you will encounter on the parkway are recreational vehicles. Commercial traffic is prohibited so you won't see semi-trucks. Most of the time RV traffic is light. But, in the fall there are a fair number of RVs heading south for the winter. And, in the spring the same RVs are heading back north for the summer. Ideally, you would like to bike on the opposite side of the road. So, a fall bike trip would be best going South to North and a spring bike trip would be best going North to South.
  4. Logistics - this can be a determining factor for those biking without a support vehicle. How will you arrive at your starting point and how will you get from the end of your trip back to your vehicle or back home? This is something we can help you think through the possibilities.

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