Cyclists call the Natchez Trace Parkway a road of glass (referring to the smooth surface of the road), through the lush southern landscape. Because the parkway ride is uninterrupted by traffic lights and it has no turns to map, cyclists can focus on relaxation and the pure joy of riding. Many cyclists also choose to ride the parkway to feel its connection to history. Many avid cyclists consider the Natchez Trace as a "bucket list" item. Cycling clubs along the parkway sponsor organized rides throughout the year.
Motorists and cyclists share the same space on the parkway. Unlike modern public highways built primarily for automobile transportation, the road through the park has no paved shoulders, and each lane is two feet narrower than the current modern standard. Posted speed limits are lower than on comparable public highways. Both bicycles and automobiles have the same right to occupy the park road. The numerous curves, changing angles and directions of sunlight on the curves, and shadowing effect of foliage present unique challenges for drivers on the parkway. Drivers who travel long distances on the road or who travel the road often may not be as alert as other drivers. While riding on the parkway, you are encouraged to make yourself visible to motorists as much as possible.
Consider these safety features to make yourself more visible:
High-visibility yellow or green clothing improves visibility, whereas black, dark green or other dark or natural colors can act to camouflage you in the natural landscape. Notice the difference in the visibility of the two cyclists in the photo at the top of the page. Even if you wear bright, non-natural colored clothing, low angles of sunlight in the mornings and evenings may prevent motorists from seeing you.
Flashing 180 degree lighting set at proper angles on both the front and rear of the bike may provide some additional visibility.
Cyclists, particularly those in reclining cycles, often add flags in a high visibility color to make themselves more visible.
There is no certainty that even if you take all precautions possible, a motorist will see you. Though motorists are required to observe the three-foot passing rule, be alert for motorists, particularly in more heavy-traffic areas such as Ridgeland, Tupelo, Clinton, and the Franklin/Nashville area where larger numbers of motorists use the park road to commute. An off-road multi-use trail is available for cyclists in the park through Ridgeland.
Natchez Trace Cycling works with the National Park Service and Adventure Cycling Association to study and improve safety conditions on the parkway. The goal is to make a visit to the park a safe and enjoyable experience for motorists, cyclists, hikers, and every other visitor.
Cyclists staying overnight on the parkway are encouraged to plan their trips to use designated campgrounds found on the Natchez Trace Parkway map.
Bicycle-only Campground Sites include:
Groups and clubs along the Natchez Trace Parkway sponsor organized rides throughout the year. Several rides support Natchez Trace Cycling.
Organized rides include the following:
Sponsored by the Attala Cycling Club, the ride for 2021 will be on August 14th. It starts in Kosciusko, Mississippi and runs to French Camp and Little Mountain. Visit Website to Register.