I am walking in the woods on the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail. I’m in a world of slippery elms, black oaks, and chinkapins, strolling through the Tennessee forest. The last time I walked this trail I was an 8-year-old, holding the hand of my late father. We were singing at the tops of our voices.
There are horses on the trail today. I’m walking beside one such horse, a cocoa-brown animal named Danny Boy. The older man who rides Danny Boy is kind enough to keep pace beside me because he knows I am obsessed with his horse.
I have known this animal for approximately two minutes and I’m already professing my love.
I can’t think of a prettier place to be introduced to a horse than on the Natchez Trace footpath. This famous trail spans three states, stretches 444 miles, weaves from Mississippi to Tennessee, and dates back to 800 A.D., shortly before the birth of Mick Jagger.
Amazingly, much of this national treasure remains almost unchanged by history. But for some reason, the trail wasn’t
as well known in nearby Nashville like I’d expected.
For example, at my hotel I asked some employees where the Natchez Trace trailhead was located and they looked at me like I had boogers.
“The WHAT trail?” said a guy at the desk.
“The Natchez Trace?”
“You sure you’re saying it right?”
“I believe so.”
“Wait. Is that the nightclub where the waiters set the martinis on fire?”
You have to worry about America.
Either way, I finally found the trail. And I couldn’t be happier because the footpath is the same as it was when I hiked it with my father.
The Natchez Trace is the granddaddy of American trails, predating the United States itself. In fact, this trail was here before the Chikasaw, the Choctaw, and the Cherokee.
It gives me chills to think this trail existed during the same…