NATCHEZ TRACE STATE FOREST
The Forest is located in central-western Tennessee, in portions of Henderson, Carroll, and Benton Counties. It is approximately 30 miles east of Jackson and is bisected by I-40. The Forest originated from lands purchased by the Resettlement Administration and became a State Forest in 1949. At the time of purchase the land was severely abused by poor agricultural practices that caused severe erosion and resulted in a deeply gullied landscape. When the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Forestry Division took over management of the land, the emphasis for many years was on fire control and establishment of vegetation to prevent erosion. Loblolly pine, because of high rates of litter production, proved very satisfactory for that purpose and hundreds of acres of pine plantations were established. The Forest now consists of 67% hardwood types and 30% pines. Hardwood stands exceeding 60 years of age occur on 39% of the forest on land that was never cleared for agriculture or had been abandoned for farming. On the other hand, 57% support trees whose age are 10 to 60 years and probably originated on former farmland. Large areas have been salvaged as a result of approximately 7,300 acres of older age class stands being blown down to various degrees by a severe thunderstorm in 1999. There are 16 cemeteries, 62 historic sites, 1 prehistoric site, 4 ponds, and 1 primitive campsite on the forest. Hunting has been a traditional use of the forest. Other recreational uses include 28 miles of hiking trails, camping, picnicking, horseback riding and OHV use are allowed on certain marked forest roads.
Natchez Trace State Forest, located in western Tennessee, has a rich history that spans thousands of years. The forest gets its name from the historic Natchez Trace Parkway, a significant trade route and travel corridor used by Native American tribes, European explorers, and settlers during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Before European settlement, the land that now comprises the Natchez Trace State Forest was inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Natchez tribes. The Natchez Trace Parkway was initially an ancient trail created by the Native Americans, connecting the Mississippi River to the Cumberland River, serving as a major trade route.
When Europeans began exploring the area in the late 17th century, they encountered the Natchez Trace and recognized its importance for travel and commerce. French explorers, including Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville and Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, utilized and mapped portions of the Trace in their expeditions.
During the 18th and early 19th centuries, the Natchez Trace became a vital thoroughfare for pioneers and settlers traversing the wilderness from the Ohio River Valley to the Mississippi River. It served as a primary means of transportation and trade in the region, connecting various territories and communities.
With the advent of steamboats and the decline of overland travel, the importance of the Natchez Trace diminished. However, it regained historical significance in the mid-20th century with the establishment of the Natchez Trace Parkway, a scenic drive preserving the historic route. This federal parkway runs adjacent to the Natchez Trace State Forest and attracts visitors interested in the area's history and natural beauty.
The Natchez Trace State Forest itself was established in 1957 and covers approximately 48,000 acres of Tennessee's western Highland Rim. It serves as a recreational area for camping, hunting, fishing, and hiking, offering visitors a chance to explore and appreciate the region's natural resources.
1. Pin Oak Campground offers 77 campsites with water, electricity and a central service building.
2. Cub Lake Campground has primitive camping options for those seeking an authentic outdoor experience.
3. Wrangler Horse camp is perfect for equestrian enthusiasts offering horse:friendly amenities and trails.
4. Group Lodge #5 provides group accommodations including kitchen facilities, dining area, bedrooms and bathrooms.
5. Poplar Grove Youth Area caters to youth groups looking for rustic cabins or tent sites in the wilderness.