Mississippi has a wondrous wealth of paved and unpaved bike trails. But one of the greatest joys of biking in Mississippi, has to be the opportunity you’ll have to immerse yourself in our country’s history while experiencing the scenic vistas, off-road detours and colorful towns you’ll find along your journey.
Stretching from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee, the Natchez Trace is the crown jewel of Mississippi’s bike-friendly roadways. The 444-mile recreational road is managed by the National Park Service and is truly unlike any other scenic route in the country, thanks to its historic sites and numerous markers that tell the story of the Trace’s 10,000-year history.
The siege of Vicksburg marked a critical turning point in the American Civil War, with the town being famously declared as “the key to the Confederacy” by Abraham Lincoln. Today, the Vicksburg National Military Park features 1,325 historic monuments and markers that follow the park’s bike-friendly 16-mile tour road. Expect a hilly ride, with curvy descents and short, steep climbs.
The Longleaf Trace is a 44-mile Rails-to-Trails conservancy project, built along an abandoned section of the Mississippi Central Railroad, going from Prentiss to Hattiesburg. Trailheads along the Trace mark the locations where small-town train stations and depots once stood. While in Hattiesburg, be sure to experience Mississippi’s civil rights history with a detour along the city’s 1964 Freedom Summer Trail.
The Chisha Foka Multi-Use Trail is a 10-mile paved path that runs through historic Choctaw homelands. Chisha Foka, which was the original name of the Choctaw territory, means “among the post oaks” in the Choctaw language. The trail system travels through Natchez Trace woodlands and features scenic overlooks of the Barnett Reservoir, historic sites, and interpretive markers.
The Tanglefoot Trail is Mississippi’s longest Rails-to-Trails conversion. The 43.6-mile paved trail weaves through the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area, following lands traversed by Chickasaw tribes and Meriwether Lewis and tracing the path of a railroad built by Col. William C. Falkner, the great-grandfather of Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner. Natural features include fields, forests, meadows and wetlands.