Natchez Trace Bike Tour - Lizard Head Cycling Guides
 
101 Bobtail or Box 855, Ophir, CO 81426 Phone: 970.728.5891
Email: info@LizardHeadCyclingGuides.com

Natchez Trace Bike Tour

nt-trail

The Natchez Trace Parkway is truly one of North America’s hidden gems. With it’s vast stretches of twisty roads with little vehicle traffic, it’s tremendous scenery over ridges and through isolated hollows, it’s undulating terrain with no big climbing, and it’s myriad small friendly towns steeped in history, it’s no wonder that the Natchez Trace (also known simply as the “Trace”) is a destination for many cyclists looking to reconnect with nature while pursuing their love of cycling.

The Natchez Trace, also known as the “Old Natchez Trace”, is a historical foot path that extends roughly 440 miles from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee. The “Trace” was created and used for centuries by Native Americans, and was later used by early European and American explorers, traders, and emigrants in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Today, the trail is commemorated by the 444 mile Natchez Trace Parkway, which follows the approximate path of the old Trace.

Natchez Trace Bike Tour: Highlights

Natchez Trace Parkway

Natchez Trace Parkway

The Trace in autumn

The Trace in autumn

Double Arch Bridge

Double Arch Bridge

Natchez Trace Bike Tour: Dates

Potential tour dates are listed below and not all tour dates will run. Lock in your preferred tour date early as unopened tour dates will be closed. Please see the Spring/Autumn Tour Calendar and the Summer Tour Calendar for confirmed departures. Any unopened date can be a Custom Week (9 riders required). Please contact us via email or call 970.728.5891

Autumn 2017 Tour Dates:

  • October 13 to 19, 2017 Fall Foliage Tour (Book Now!) – TOUR A GO!
    Sign-Up Now for Free Bike Rental!

Please note that the following tour dates are for 2018.

Spring 2018 Tour Dates:

  • April 21 to 27, 2018 Spring Bloom Tour (Book Now!) – TOUR A GO!
  • April 30 to May 6, 2018 Spring Bloom Tour (Book Now!) – TOUR A GO!

Autumn 2018 Tour Dates:

  • October 14 to 20, 2018 Fall Foliage Tour (Book Now!)
  • October 22 to 28, 2018 Fall Foliage Tour (Book Now!)

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Natchez Trace Bike Tour: Overview

Reptile Rewards

Tour Length: 7-Days Cycling/6-Nights Lodging
We also offer an 8-Day/7-Night version of this tour with reduced daily mileages. Please contact us for more information.

What is the Difference Between the 7 and 8 Day Natchez Trace? The 7-Day and 8-Day Natchez Trace tours are very similar. The 7-Day mileage averages approximately 64-miles/day and the 8-Day 56-miles/day. The 7-Day tour cost is $2,740 and the 8-Day is $2,950 (1 more day of lodging and meals on the 8-Day). Overall we feel the 7-Day tour’s lodging flows better than the 8-Day version and it is better to spend an extra 8th day enjoying Nashville post tour!

Arrival Airport: Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport – BTR)

Departure Airport: Nashville, Tennessee (Nashville International Airport – BNA)

Total Miles: 300 to 444 miles, additional mileage options available. (Can I keep up on this tour?)

Pre-Tour Shuttle: On the day prior to the start of Natchez Trace tour (Day 0), a pre-tour shuttle is available when reserved in advance (cost is $70/pp). The shuttle leaves the Hampton Inn & Suites Nashville-Airport in Nashville, TN at 7:00 a.m. and arrives approximately 9-10 hours later in Baton Rouge, LA. If you are flying, the Hampton Inn offers a complimentary shuttle from Nashville International Airport. If you are driving, we recommend that you leave your vehicle across from the Hampton Inn for long-term parking at the The Parking Spot for retrieval upon our return to Nashville at the end of the tour.

Ability Level: 2/3 (Intermediate to Advanced)

Tour Cost: $2,740 per person. Group discount of $200 per person for groups of 4 or more.
Please see our Tour Discounts Policy.

$200 Early Bird Discount for 2018 Tour Registrations Made Prior to November 1, 2017!
Must mention or use Discount Code EARLYBIRD2018 when making your reservation.

Single Room Supplement: Add $425 to the Tour Cost for a private room each night of the tour (6 nights).

Tour Includes: 7-Days of guide service, 6-nights of lodging, all meals, entry fees, energy food, liquid refreshments, shuttles and mechanical support. Alcoholic beverages, bike rental and massage therapy are additional.

Lodging for 6-Nights: (subject to change)

Road Bike Rental: Lizard Head Cycling Guides is proud to rent Scott CR-1 Pro and Scott Solace carbon road bikes with full Shimano Ultegra components for only $250/week, or $150 for 3 or 4 day tours. Both the CR-1 and Solace models are sub- 17 lb comfortable, high performance bicycles geared for climbing hills. In addition we also have electric bikes available for rental at $375/week. And finally we have a selection of straight bar road bikes and kids bikes in our rental fleet. Just let us know what you need and we can probably find it.

Please also see this blog post for more information on bike rentals.

Electric Bike Rental: We now have a limited selection of SCOTT electric bikes that can be reserved for our tours. These are road bikes with straight bars that make the slowest rider the fastest rider in the group. Rental Price is $375/week.

Couples Bike Rental Discount: Sign up as a couple and receive one free bike high performance rental per couple ($250 value).

Tandems and Recumbents: Lizard Head Cycling Guides happily accommodates both tandem and recumbent bikes on its tours.

Meals On Tour

Lizard Head Cycling sources our favorite restaurants in each town that we visit. Our guides focus on establishments that offer fresh and local ingredients. Guests choose whatever they desire to eat off the menu: including appetizer, salad, entree and of course dessert... yum! :) Also, while on tour if a guest wants to dine early before the group and go to bed, this is fine. We understand that on some days sleep is the most important post ride element.

Lunches on Tour: Lizard Head Cycling Guides prepares healthy lunches to keep you going. We will serve you fresh organic fruits and veggies, salads, hummus, sandwich fixings, nuts, gourmet cheeses and of course plenty of salty/sweet snacks such as chips and cookies. We pride ourselves on being able to cater to specific dietary requests, so rest assured that you will be able to get the nutrition that works for you during the week. Gluten Free, Dairy Free or a someone who loves it all – we will keep you well fed during the tour!

Overall Route Map

Ability Level: Can I Ride This Tour?

How Fit do I Have to Be?
If one month prior to the tour, you can ride 2 to 3 times a week equalling a total of 75 or more miles a week, you'll do just fine. We like to jokingly say that "one is ready for a Lizard Head Cycling Tour when they are finished with tour" and this is true! The only way to simulate a week long bike tour is to go on a week long tour.

Our average rider age is 55 years. These are bike tours, not races so we take our time to stop, take pictures and see the sights. We have all day to reach our destination and most riders take "bumps" at some points. We offer reduced mileage options for each day. Of course if someone wants to ride E.F.I. (Every Freaking Inch), we love to show them all the extra climbs, loops and hidden canyons that can be included!

Do the Bump!
Daily mileage options allow cyclists of varying abilities to enjoy this tour. One of our favorite options is to give cyclists a "bump" via the support vehicle, or a 10 to 20 mile lift down the road representing an hour of pedal time. After the bump the rider is "off the front" and riding at his or her own pace without feeling they are being left behind the group. They'll then have time to linger and take in the spectacular scenery. All cyclists come together in time for lunch. Afterwards, cyclists can take another bump and/or continue riding.

Seamless Mileage Options
Lizard Head Cycling Guides designs multiple mileage options for each tour – something we're well known for in our business. This technique is similar to heliskiing in that one does not ski everything, they ski the best. :-)

Slow or Fast?
Many cyclists who sign up for our tours have worried themselves silly about not being able to keep up, but then they're surprised to find that all the worrying was about nothing. They do just fine! Slow and Fast only exist relative to other cyclists. Speed does not matter as long as one is moving on the bike. As long as one is moving, they are truly going fast enough.

If you have questions about your ability to ride this tour, please contact our office via email or call us at 970.728.5891 - we'll more than happy to guide you!

Please also see this blog post for more information.

Natchez Trace Bike Tour: Itinerary*

*Tour itineraries are subject to change and modification based on the group, available accommodations and other unforeseen circumstances including weather, wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, landslides and/or other acts of nature. Please view this itinerary as an outline as to what to expect on this tour.

Day 0: Arrival in Baton Rouge

Guests fly into Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport – BTR). Guests can also drive to Baton Rouge for the start of the tour, but they will need to make their own arrangements for getting back to their vehicle in Baton Rouge from Nashville, Tennessee at the end of the tour.

NOTE: If you want to drive to Nashville and shuttle with Lizard Head to Baton Rouge, please see the note above concerning the Pre-Tour Shuttle for more information. The meeting hotel in Baton Rouge is the Spring Hill Suites Marriott. Guests are on-their-own for pre-tour and post-tour accommodations. The Spring Hill Suites offers a complimentary airport shuttle to the Baton Rouge International Airport.

Day 1: Natchez to Sunken Trace
46 Miles with up to 2,260 feet of climbing

We begin our first day with an early morning gathering in the Spring Hill Suites Marriott parking lot to load gear into the support van and then make a 2 hour journey north to the small town of Natchez, Mississippi, one of the oldest and most important European settlements in the lower Mississippi River Valley. Upon arrival in Natchez, we unload bikes, saddle up and then ride to the start of the Natchez Trace Parkway at it’s southern terminus to begin our week-long journey north.

Today’s route is the lowest mileage of the week so that riders can stretch their legs and get warmed up for the week ahead. At mile marker 10, we will make a short divert from the Trace to view the Emerald Mound Site – an ancient ceremonial mound built by ancestors of the Natchez Indians that dates from the period between 1200 and 1730 A.D.

After Emerald Mound and back on route, riders will soon make another quick divert to Mount Locust Historic Home, one of the oldest surviving structures in Mississippi. While riders take a tour of this house, guides will prepare a gourmet lunch in the parking area. After lunch, we finish the day by meandering our way along the Trace past the small town of Port Gibson, Mississippi (the town General Ulysses S. Grant proclaimed was “too beautiful to burn”) and end the ride at the Sunken Trace – a preserved portion of the deeply eroded Natchez Trace foot path.

From Sunken Trace we shuttle a short distance to Vicksburg, Mississippi to first do a short driving tour around the historic Vicksburg National Military Park and then afterward, check into the nearby Anchuca Historic Mansion and Inn. Guests will have time before dinner to stroll this small town or to relax at the inn after the adventures of the day.

Elevation Profile: 46 mi +2260 ft / -2270 ft

Day 2: Sunken Trace to Ridgeland
62 Miles with up to 2,370 feet of climbing

This day begins with a hearty breakfast and you might need these extra calories since our mileage increases. After a short shuttle back to the Trace and once again back on the bikes, we will soon make an early morning stop at the Rocky Springs Site to temporarily trade cycling shoes for walking shoes as we take a short hiking tour of the old Rocky Springs town site and a small portion of the original Old Natchez Trace foot trail.

After our short hiking break, we remount the bikes and continue to thread our way through the dense ancient hardwood forests, past open pastures and cotton fields. At mile marker 89, we will make a stop to explore the Clinton Visitor Center where guides will prepare another healthy lunch for riders to refuel. The Center is constructed with period materials and period architectural details including a porch and “dogtrot” and has the look and authentic charm of one of the 19th century farmhouses once located along the Natchez Trace.

After departing the Center, we finish the last 13 miles of our journey and leave the Trace to check into our lodging for the night in Ridgeland, Mississippi.

Elevation Profile: 62 mi +2370 ft / -2185 ft

Day 3: Ridgeland to Kosciusko
62 Miles with up to 1,295 feet of climbing

On this third day of the tour our mileage stays the same as the previous day, but since this is one of the flatter portions of the Trace, we only gain half as much elevation, so this is a great day to spin. Departing our hotel, we make our way back to the Trace, though this time we will not ride on the parkway itself, but for the first five miles on a newly created bike path system adjacent to the Trace. Finally back on parkway, one of the highlights of this morning’s portion is the ride along the Ross Barnett Reservoir for about 10 miles.

At mile marker 122, we will make a stop at the Cypress Swamp where a boardwalk trail leads over the murky waters through a tupelo and bald cypress swamp… but make sure to watch for alligators!

By the end of the day we arrive in Kosciusko, Mississippi – the town where Oprah Winfrey was born and lived until age 6 – and find our lodging for the night at the Maple Terrace Inn. Riders check into their rooms, refresh after the day’s ride and then enjoy a well deserved authentic Southern meal.

Elevation Profile: 62 mi +1295 ft / -1175 ft

Day 4: Kosciusko to Houston
77 Miles with up 2,345 feet of climbing

Today presents a longer riding day than the previous two, so we will leave a little earlier giving riders plenty of time to pedal along enjoying the scenery of the Red Clay Hills before settling into the bottomlands near the headwaters of the Big Black River. The miles will seem to zip by along this quiet section of the Trace, with only a few minor hills and minor changes in the uniform surroundings. A short climb up to the Jeff Busby overlook is highly recommended as it is one of the highest points in Mississippi.

Our destination for the evening is the Bridges Hall Manor, an 1884 Victorian style Bed & Breakfast in Houston, Mississippi, where our lodging, dinner and post-ride relaxation await. But don’t forget to give a snack to the local welcoming committee on the way into town!

Elevation Profile: 77 mi +2345 ft / -2470 ft

Day 5: Houston to Belmont
70 Miles with up to 2,585 feet of climbing

The section of the Trace we ride today was once very important ground to early American Indian races and we will pass several of their burial mounds along the way. After breakfast and departing the Bridges Hall Manor, we continue north on the Trace and soon make a stop at the Bynum Mounds – six burial mounds and an associated habitation area built between 100 B.C. and 100 A.D. Then later in the afternoon we will make a stop at the Pharr Mounds – a complex of eight dome shaped Tumulus burial mounds built between 100 and 200 A.D.

At mile marker 266 just past Tupelo, Mississippi, we will stop at the Parkway Visitor Center and Headquarters for lunch and then press on to end the riding at the Jourdan Creek pullout. From here we shuttle to our destination of The Belmont Hotel, a restored 1927 Georgian style hotel in Belmont, Mississippi.

Elevation Profile: 70 mi +2585 ft / -2565 ft

Day 6: Belmont to Meriwether Lewis National Monument
Standard, 92 Miles with up to 4,240 feet of climbing
Lower Mileage, 65 Miles with up to 2,300 feet of climbing

There is typically one day during a Lizard Head tour that we designate the “Queen Stage” which is defined as follows:

“The stage of a multi-day bicycle tour which includes the highest point reach of the whole tour. Also usually, but not always, the hardest and/or longest stage of the tour.”

Today’s stage of our tour could certainly be defined as the Queen Stage with it’s 90+ mile length, 4,240 feet of climbing and reaching the highest point along the entire Trace to 1,100 feet above sea level… but have no worries! This is the Trace and while these numbers seem intimidating, there are no steep climbs and all you need to do is keep those pedals turning. However, we will also offer a lower mileage option of around 65 miles.

Since this is our longest day, we will need to begin early in order to get out onto the Trace with plenty of sunshine to spare. Shuttling a short distance from Belmont, we begin the riding and the scenery remains world-class, from the wooded ridges to the steep hollows carved by brooks cascading over rocky stream beds. We will pedal across three states today starting from Mississippi, passing through Alabama and finally ending in Tennessee.

We end the ride at the Meriwether Lewis National Monument and then shuttle to our accommodations at the Commodore Hotel in Linden, Tennessee. Today’s accomplishments will be well earned!

Elevation Profile: 92 mi +4240 ft / -3690 ft

Day 7: Meriwether Lewis National Monument to Northern Terminus
55 Miles with up to 3,960 feet of climbing

The final day of the tour has arrived and we have saved what we think is the best of the Trace for last! Following breakfast we will shuttle a short distance from Linden to the Meriwether Lewis National Monument. Here while riders check out the monument to a great American explorer, guides will get the bikes ready for the final leg of the Trace. Soon on their bikes, riders enjoy the magnificent scenery along the twisty turns and rolling hills on this final section of the Trace.

At mile marker 438 you will see the gracefully designed Double Arch Bridge. While the view from the bridge is incredible, you may want to first make a small diversion off the parkway about a half mile before the bridge to catch it’s impressive architectural view from below.

Soon after the bridge riders reach the northern terminus of the Trace to end the riding and also for a photo opportunity to archive your accomplishment. Well done!

From the northern terminus, we shuttle a short distance to the Loveless Cafe for a quick bite of authentic Southern cuisine and the best biscuits you will ever have! After lunch, the tour concludes with a 25 mile transfer to the Nashville International Airport.

Elevation Profile: 55 mi +3960 ft / -3990 ft

Natchez Trace Bike Tour: Logistics & FAQs

Bike Shipping

Lizard Head Cycling recommends shipping with BikeFlights.com. Bikes can be shipped either to our partner bike shop in each meeting town for professional assembly or directly to the meeting hotel for self-assembly. Bike boxes can generally be left at the meeting hotel during the tour. Bikes shipped across the continental US should be shipped 8 days prior to your tour.

Ride Difficulty: This custom tour is designed for ADVANCED to INTERMEDIATE cyclists with various levels of fitness. Each day there are additional mileage options for advanced riders.

Tour Support: A 15-passenger van and trailer that carries luggage, food and equipment will support this tour.

General Tour & Cancellation Policies

Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with all of our tour and cancellation policies, which can be found by clicking here.

Travel Insurance

Lizard Head Cycling Guides highly recommends clients purchase Travel Insurance through MH Ross Travel Insurance. A policy can be purchased individually through the sales link below or Lizard Head Cycling Guides can also set-up a policy for its clients.

The estimated cost for a 50-year old buying insurance for a $2,500 tour ranges from $100 (standard plan) to about $200 (cancel for any reason plan).

Lizard Head Cycling Guides Custom Sales Portal Link is:

https://www.mhross.com/index.php/consumer/portal/LIZA0855CO

  • The best options for our clients are either the Asset or Bridge plans.
  • The Asset-Plus & Complete plans both include a Cancel-For-Any-Reason option.
    • As a result these plans cost more.
    • The Cancel-for-Any-Reason option is only available when insurance is purchased within two weeks of initial deposit.