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Walk Natchez!

After walking Natchez in 1852, the celebrated landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted wrote,

“But the grand feature of Natchez is the bluff, terminating in an abrupt precipice over the river, with the public garden upon it...on the very edge of a stupendous cliff.”

Overview

Walk Natchez!  is a planned walking and biking trail through the heart of historic downtown Natchez, to the edge of the 200-foot historic Natchez Bluff, and along the banks  of the mighty Mississippi below.

Hikers, bikers, joggers and strollers who use the trail will experience one of America’s most breathtaking vistas: a view of the Mississippi River that is second to none. 

This 5.6 mile public trail system will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Numbered and color-coded arrows embedded in the sidewalk correspond to an informational brochure for a self-guided tour. Kiosks emphasize historical, archaeological, and environmental points of interests along the way.

 

The Historic Spanish Promenade

Walking along trail
(Click for larger image)

The trails begin and end at the Gazebo on the historic Spanish Esplanade or Promenade - a narrow strip of green that fronts the town and skirts the edge of the celebrated Natchez Bluff. 

Established by the Spanish in 1790, this bluff top park is one of the oldest undeveloped public spaces in America.  For more than 200 years, this historic ground has been the front porch of Natchez.   What a view it is across the vast expanse of the Mississippi River to the flat lands of Louisiana and the endless West beyond.  

There are two distinct trails  -- a nature trail and a city trail.

The River Front Trail

The River Front Trail is a nature trail with three separate tiers, representing drastically different elevations and unparalleled views of the Mississippi. It features relaxation areas, vista points and shaded benches, as well as designated lighted areas for safety.

Roth's Hill Road. (Click for larger image).

First, the trail follows the brow of the historic bluff and then begins its deep descent down Roth’s Hill Road. Midway, the trail veers off on to a natural plateau surrounded by an undisturbed wildlife sanctuary that has been nestled in the belly of the vertical bluff side for generations. The Trail continues downward, tracing the natural topography of the near vertical 200-foot bluff, to the riverbank below.

 
Elevated Trails
(Click for larger image)
 
Banner & Lighting
(Click for larger image)
 

Following along the river’s edge, the lower level trails offers the closest view of the Mississippi and its torrid currents. Eventually, a 12-foot wide timber walkway meanders through a low lying bottom or wooded area in the flood plain to the foot of Learned’s Mill Road. A steep climb up Learned’s Mill Road leads back to the brow of the bluff, along the Spanish Promenade toward the town and the Gazebo.

The Historic Downtown Trail

The Historic Downtown Trail is a three mile trek through the historic city.   Natchez was laid out by the Spanish in 1790 and has a typical Spanish city plan:  square blocks within a square grid with a central park.

Downtown Map of the Trail
(Click for larger image)

The downtown trail covers the area from Broadway Street at the Mississippi River bluff to Martin Luther King Street and features a 19th century commercial district, as well as antebellum Greek Revival mansions and elaborate Victorian residences; State and National Landmark sites; the Natchez National Historical Park, including the National Park Service’s William Johnson House, home to an African –American proprietor and diarist prior to the Civil War.

The Historic Downtown Trail overlaps and coordinates with the planned Museum of Streets -- an outdoor museum whose “collections” are the buildings and streetscapes of historic downtown Natchez, the Bluff and Riverfront. 

The Museum of the Streets

This view of the romantic "Bridge of Sighs" that spanned Roth’s Hill road at the foot of Main street is an 1855 pencil sketch by William Marshall Merrick. Illustrations like this will be incoporated in the exhibits of the Museum of the Streets. (Click for larger image)

The Museum of the Streets displays will feature early sketches of Natchez, as well as the extraordinary collection of 19th and early 20th century photographs of streetscapes, commercial buildings, and residences taken primarily by the photographer Henry C. Norman.  Preserved by the late Dr. Thomas C. Gandy and his wife Joan, these photographs will be reproduced on stainless steel plates and installed at strategic historic locations to provide a “then and now” picture of what that very spot looked like in centuries past.

 

Other Museum of the Streets
HASTINGS-ON-THE-HUDSON, NY
Hastings Historical Society
BELFAST
Belfast Museum
Belfast Chamber of Commerce
RICHMOND HILL, CANADA
Town Hall
Local Voices Online
BIDDEFORD, MAINE
Boddeford Historical Society
THOMASTON, MAINE
Thomaston Historical Society
RIDGEFIELD, CT
Ridgefield's 300th Anniversary
WATERVILLE, MAINE
A Heritage Walking Tour of Waterville, Maine
   

 

Natchez Trails is a project of the City of Natchez, the Natchez Adams County Chamber of Commerce, the Natchez Downtown Development Association, the Historic Natchez Foundation and the Trails Committee of the Natchez Adams County Community Alliance.