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Natchez Trace State Park
A few weeks ago, I took my son Marshall and a student of mine, Robert, to ride at Natchez Trace State Park in Wildersville, Tenn. For those of you who have never heard of Wildersville, it is located in the midwestern part of Tennessee.
I didn’t have a clue of what to expect from the park, as I’d heard very little about the horse amenities there. But upon arrival, I realized very quickly that the park is vast. It has a network of paved two-lane park highways running from one end of the 40,000 acres to the other, with roads branching off leading to various park destinations.
Most state parks that I have stayed at are well kept and offer plenty of amenities, but Natchez Trace might be right there at the top of my list. There is a lodge with hotel rooms, buffet restaurant (on certain days), a lounge, swimming pool, and meeting rooms.
Just down the hill from the lodge is one of several lakes available to fishermen and boaters. There is a store on the property where one can buy drinks, ice, snacks, and park merchandise, and there are several RV campgrounds and cabins available throughout the park.
I was pleased to see that they offered top notch equestrian facilities. There is an equestrian RV campground, complete with hookups, a shower house, dump station, and even a playground for the kids. The campsites are mostly shaded and it’s not hard to find a level one. Tie rails are provided at the campsites as well.
You’ll find the barn and day use parking area just a stone’s throw down the road from the campground. The facility offers a 13-stall barn (with water and feed trays that open to the barn aisle for filling), lights, water, a paddock, and restrooms. Up the hill by the trailer parking there is a series of long iron pipe hitching rails and a horse washing station.
The horse trailhead is located further up the hill in the back of the equestrian area. The trail is a 13-mile series of loops that branch into smaller loops. The trail is well marked and is mostly sandy footing. The terrain is what I consider to be beginner level with a hillside path here and there. If you pick up a trail map on your way into the park, you’ll see that the equestrian trails join up with gravel forest roads that additionally provide hundreds of miles of riding and exploring.
The trails offer plenty of shade for those warm summer days while the forest roads are partially shaded. I think it worth noting that the deer flies, gnats, and horse flies are plentiful during the warm season, so don’t spare the fly spray, especially around the ears, and if you have ear covers, use them.
Natchez Trace is an exceptional place for any horseman, but as a family man, it’s one of my favorites because it offers so much to all members of the family (including the non-riders). We parked our trailer at the day use parking area and kept our horses in the barn while we stayed at one of the available lakeside cabins in the park. Our days were spent riding earlier in the day, then eating lunch at the restaurant, and exploring the rest of the park in the afternoon before finishing the evening by a fire.
Our time spent at Natchez Trace State Park was amazing and we all agreed at the end of our weekend that we’ll be back to spend time there again.
For more information on Natchez Trace State Park and other horse campgrounds in the state of Tennessee, please visit www.tnhorsetrails.com.
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