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Tennessee State Parks

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USA Parks
West Region
Natchez Trace State Forest
Natchez Trace State Forest Equestrian Center © Jim Oakley
Mockingbird ©
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24845 Natchez Trace Road
Wildersville, Tennessee   38388

Phone: 731-968-3742
Toll Free: 800-250-8616
Reservations: 800-250-8616
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.
History of the Area
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.

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1. Cub Lake Trail: A 2-mile loop trail around the scenic Cub Lake, offering views of wildlife and diverse plant species.

2. Overlook Trail: Short half mile hike leading to a beautiful overlook with panoramic views of Pin Oak lake.

3. South Hiking Trails Loop: Approximately 5 miles long; features forested areas, streams, bridges and opportunities for bird watching.

4. North Side Nature Area trails system includes several interconnected paths totaling about six miles in length through dense woods and along lakeshores.

5. Red Leaves Nature Trail is an easy one-mile walk that offers interpretive signs explaining local flora/fauna throughout its course.

6.Outpost Campground Pathway is approximately two-miles-long featuring mixed hardwood forests alongside campgrounds facilities

7.Pin Oak Lodge Walking Track provides a short but pleasant stroll near lodge accommodations within less than quarter mile distance

8.Southside Road Horseback Riding/Hiking path stretches over ten miles showcasing various landscapes from open fields to wooded hillsides

9.Woody's Run - This challenging mountain bike/hike trail covers nearly five rugged terrain filled with switchbacks

10.Red Fox Trot - An intermediate-level hiking/bicycle route spanning three-and-a-half-miles across varied terrains including woodlands

11.White-tailed Deer Dash- Covering four-and-a-half-miles this advanced level track traverses steep slopes demanding physical fitness

12.Gray Squirrel Scamper- At just under two miles it's perfect for beginners looking for gentle woodland walks or cycling routes

13.Raccoon Ramble -This beginner-friendly pathway spans roughly one-and-three-quarter milers providing serene nature encounters

14.Bobcat Chase- Intermediate hikers/cyclists can enjoy this almost three-mile journey amidst lush greenery

15.Coyote Crawl- Advanced adventurers would appreciate these tough four-plus mileage encompassing strenuous climbs/descents

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
October 7 by bhunt
park review stars; one to five Pin Oak is a beautiful lake for a campground. Great park.
September 24
park review stars; one to five one of the best we have ever stayed at.
August 16 An awesome stop along the way by Josh McDowell
park review stars; one to five Very clean area with friendly staff, we spent the day on a boat which are very inexpensive and a great way to shake off the vigors of road tripping
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From Nashville, take I-40 West towards Memphis for about 113 miles.

Exit at number 116 for TN-114 toward Parkers Crossroads.

Turn right onto Wildersville Rd/TN-22 S and continue to follow TN-22 S.

After approximately six miles, turn left on Natchez Trace State Forest Road.

You will reach the forest in less than a mile.

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Tennessee State Parks