A little more than halfway from Memphis to Nashville on the I-40, off of exit 116, lies a Tennessee State Park that will forever hold a special place in our hearts. Tennessee’s Natchez Trace State Park is 48,000 acres of natural beauty featuring four lakes, a swimming beach, hiking trails, a wrangler camp, 250 miles of horseback riding trails, a shooting range, and more.
Char and I stayed in one of the rustic lake cabins when we visited the park on our first honeymoon (of many honeymoons… every time we go out of town, we call it a honeymoon). It was one of the most restful, peaceful, and romantic trips of our life. We went in the month of November when no one was out at the beach, no one was boating on the lakes, and hardly any one was even hiking or riding horses. We were pretty much alone in the park, staying in a small rental cabin. It was perfect.
Our rustic cabin at Natchez Trace State Park included a wood burning fireplace, a complete kitchen, a large deck, a great view of the lake, and a bedroom that we did not use. That’s right, we didn’t use it. When we arrived, Char threw herself backward on the bed and decided it wasn’t as comfortable as the couch pull-out bed in the cabin’s living room. Plus, the couch pull out bed was right in front of the fireplace so we had the extra coziness of a warm fire at our bedside.
We took almost nothing with us on the trip. Just a few groceries, a few changes of clothes, some books, and my iPod with portable speakers. We spent our time pretty much free of electronics – just light jazz music from Johnny Hartman, John Coltrane, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and other favorites playing from the iPod. We spent our time just being with each other.
We didn’t let the cold stop us from taking a few hikes through the woods, either. The park houses several old cemeteries with hiking trails leading to them. Anyone who does rubbings would find themselves enjoying these hikes. There is also a geocaching hunt as well at Natchez Trace State Park.
In addition to the hikes, we took a few drives through the park. We kept seeing signs telling us how to get to the Pecan Tree. Why was this pecan tree so important? We had to check it out! We drove and drove and drove for quite some time, following the signs to the tree, and finally arriving at the rotten trunk of a fallen tree that had been struck by lightning. At one time, it was billed as The World’s Largest Pecan Tree. Now, it was a rotten stump. We took some pictures and kept on exploring.
We ran across a pack of wild Beagle puppies. We kept trying to grab one to take home as a pet but they were too scared. Instead, we fed them our lunch and watched them play for about an hour.
It was freezing cold and we were hungry… but we just couldn’t move from that spot watching the puppies play and enjoy their food.
We finally continued with our explorations. The park is a great destination in any season. In the spring, the hiking and horseback trails are plentiful and will keep you busy and exercised. In the summer, there is boating and swimming, volleyball and camping. And even in the fall and winter, as we found, it’s a great place to rent a cabin and have a romantic weekend getaway.
To view our photo gallery from our trip to Natchez Trace State Park, click here.