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For hundreds of years before European settlers arrived in North America and up until recent times, explorers of all backgrounds used the ancient highway known as the Natchez Trace Trail. This historic landmark ran through Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The northern end of the trail went through Natchez Trace State Park, a 10,000-acre park within the larger Natchez Trace State Forest. The park sits right between Nashville and Memphis and is a popular getaway year-round. Visitors enjoy RV camping, fishing, boating, and hiking among the pines and hardwood trees. Park wildlife includes deer, birds, and black bear.
Natchez Trace State Park was built on land that the American government bought from farmers during the New Deal when the economy was in ruins and farmers were unable to grow anything on their property. This provided an economic stimulus for the farmers, and construction of the park provided jobs for many young men in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Some of their construction projects included the three man-made lakes within the park, a perfect location for fishing and swimming. Book an RV in Henderson County and stay at the park’s three peaceful campgrounds constructed by the CCC.
Natchez Trace State Park is a beautiful destination for hiking. There are numerous maintained trails of all lengths and difficulties. The shorter, easy trails include the Fern Trail and the Oak Ridge Trail. More challenging trails include the four-mile Cub Lake Trail and the 40-mile Red Leaves Trail if you wish to spend a night in the backcountry. All of these trails will take you through beautiful forests, across cold streams, and are abundant with wildlife like deer and birds. Natchez Trace is very popular with birders who come here to spot heron, tanagers, warblers, and over 100 other species. Some of the trails are multi-use for mountain bikers too. Natchez Trace State Park has a vast network of graded fire roads also open to mountain bikers.
The four lakes within Natchez Trace State Park attract all sorts of watersports. Cub Lake is one of the smaller lakes at 50 acres, but you can rent canoes, kayaks, and jon boats here. Pin Oak Lake is the largest lake at almost 700 acres and features two boat ramps, water skiing, beaches for swimming, and boat rentals. This is also the only lake where visitors can water ski. Brown’s Lake and Maple’s Creek Lake are maintained by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency rather than the state park, but boat rentals are still available.
Anglers have all sorts of options within the park. Browns Lake is one of the smaller lakes but is stocked with largemouth bass in the ten-pound range, worthy of that trophy. Sunfish, catfish, and bluegill swim the waters at Maples Creek Lake, and you can also find bass, bluegill, and catfish at Pin Oak Lake. There are fishing limits, and each lake is managed by different agencies and have different rules. You can rent jon boats at each of the lakes for fishing.
Natchez Trace State Park offers multiple RV camping opportunities. All campgrounds have picnic tables, fire pits with grills, water, and restrooms. Leashed pets are allowed in all campgrounds. In addition to the three main state park campgrounds, there's also an equestrian camp featuring 62 sites with electric and water hookups.
There are two campgrounds at Cub Lake. Campground One has 23 sites with water hookups and 20, 30, and 50-amp electric hookups. This campground can only accommodate smaller RV rentals up to 25 feet in length. This campground is open seasonally. Campground Two has 46 sites without hookups, but drinking water is available, and it shares a dump station with Campground One. This one is for even smaller RVs no longer than 20 feet.
The Pin Oak Campground is a larger state park RV campground with 77 sites, flushing toilets, and showers. All sites here have full-service hookups with 50-amp electric, sewer, and water. If Cub Lake can’t accommodate your rig, Pin Oak welcomes RVs up to 80 feet long. This campground is open year-round and has beach access to keep you cool on hot summer days.
There’s a lot to explore within and near Natchez Trace State Park. The park has an excellent museum at the visitors' center featuring exhibits about local history and wildlife. While you're there, you can book a spot on naturalist-led hikes to learn more about the park’s resources, including the hundreds of species of birds. Annual events include Ranger Camp, an Easter Egg Hunt, and the Fall Festival. Other nearby attractions include Civil War battlefields and additional state parks, like Johnsonville State Historic Park in New Johnsonville.
If you’re up for a longer journey in your rental RV, you can continue the historic Natchez Trace Parkway for 450 miles south to Natchez, Mississippi. You’ll find numerous outstanding RV camping and hiking opportunities along the parkway.
Natchez Trace State Park is right on Interstate 40, so you can find several gas stations within a couple of miles east or west of the highway. If you need to do any significant shopping, your best bet is likely Lexington, less than 15 miles to the south. Driving west on Interstate 40 will take you to Memphis and the city's infamous barbecue, or you can drive east to Nashville to visit the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame.