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TENNESSEE MRT

Download a TN MRT map. (57 KB pdf). This map is for general orientation purposes only. It indicates the current status of the route, whether completed with signs on the ground, proposed, or still under development. Check back to this page for segment descriptions as they become available.

Proposed segments are being planned and have been assessed as generally rideable. Cyclists should use atlases and other sources to identify road routes.

Segments under development are marked in red and indicate dangerous cycling conditions. Bicyclists should proceed with extreme caution.

Resources and Links

Mississippi River Parkway Commission -- An additional source of information for travelers to the Mississippi River regions is the website of the Mississippi River Parkway Commission.

 

Segment 1–Samburg/Reelfoot Lake to Dyersburg

You will leave from Samburg and follow Reelfoot Lake to the visitors' center on roads with little to moderate traffic and no shoulders. Then for 9 miles you will step down southwest on a series of small farm roads to the community of Ridgely and on to Hwy 181, the Great River Road, at 15m. At Hwy 104 go east 13 miles into Dyersburg.


Reelfoot Chamber of Commerce
Route 1, Box 140B
Tiptonville, TN 38079
(731) 253-8144

Dyersburg/Dyer Chamber of Commerce
P. O. Box 906
Dyersburg, TN 38025
(731) 285-3433

Sense of Place
Tennessee's MRT section is home to varied attractions, which range from the spectacular to the very quiet and subtle. The segments begins at Reelfoot Lake State park, formed around the lake that was established during the famous New Madrid Earthquake of 1811. This quake, thought to be the largest to hit North America, opened a hole that the Mississippi filled by flowing backward for three days. The park is a haven for extraordinary flora and fauna.

After winding south from the park over rolling Tennessee farmland, one of the smaller villages you will come to is Henning, TN. Here, decades ago, the young Alex Haley heard the family stories of ancestors' trips to America as African slaves. In the 1970's, Haley's book of these stories, "Roots', became a national bestseller and the movie a cultural phenomenon. Haley's boyhood home is open to the public.

Some say that the Mississippi Delta begins in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Cyclists may want to see this for themselves, and might also be interested in a side excursion to Graceland, Elvis Presley's mansion on the south side of town. Of course there's much more to see and do in Memphis, but the Peabody Hotel and Graceland are classic Southern places, and will certainly put you in the mood for your journeys in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Segment 2– Dyersburg to Ripley

You will leave Dyersburg on Hwy 104 and travel 13 miles back to Highway 177. Then continue south on this, the Great River Road, to Hwy 88 (11m). The next 14 miles are on top of the Chickasaw Bluffs on a winding 2-lane road with light traffic.


Sense of Place
For a 12-mile stretch of this segment you will travel on one of the four Chickasaw bluffs that rise high above the river floodplain in both Kentucky and Tennessee. Unlike in the northern states you will find few opportunities to see the river from these bluffs, composed of a very fine soil called loess. This soil was created over many millennia by dust blown across the prairies that in turn settled on the banks of the lower Mississippi. Extremely fragile and prone to erosion, these bluffs are covered with protective trees. At points there are clearings (unfortunately sometimes used as dumps) from which you will be able to look long distances over the top of wildlife preserves, past the Mississippi into Arkansas.

You will be traveling through lands that historically belonged to the Chickasaw Indians. Never very numerous, they were bold and aggressive in war and had almost destroyed Hernando deSoto's expedition in the 16th century. Later they were friendly with English traders, and eventually they would also try to be cordial in their relationship with the new American nation. In 1818, however, Andrew Jackson presented the tribal leaders with an ultimatum to cede this territory or face warfare in which they clearly could not hope to prevail. Rapid immigration from Virginia and North and South Carolina soon began. The westward expansion of the United States entered a new stage. The Chickasaws would lose all of their lands as well as their own national identity.

Segment 3– Ripley to Covington
You will leave Ripley and head west on Hwy #19, a 2-lane road with light traffic. Soon you will descend along a long, winding road, on which you should exercise caution, down the bluff and into the broad floodplain of the Mississippi. Hwy #19 becomes Crutcher Lake Road, and along this road you will, for about 30 miles, be in some of the most backcountry territory along the entire MRT. You will turn east on Highways #87 and #371, both 2-lane until you reach Hwy #51, a major 4-lane, divided highway. (Currently Hwy #51 provides the only way to cross the Hatchie River.) Almost immediately after you cross the Hatchie bridge, turn west at Leighs Chapel Road, then left on Flat Iron, which becomes Simonton into Covington.

Since the Mississippi occasionally floods, affecting the floodplain that this segment traverses, an alternate routing has been developed. Coming from Ripley toward Arp, you will come to Lightfoot Lucket Road (Hwy #87), at which point you will turn south along the crest of the bluff for the 10.9-mile ride to Hwy #371.


Ripley Chamber of Commerce
1103 East Jackson Ave.

Covington/Tipton Chamber of Commerce
P. O. Box 683
Covington, TN 38019

Sense of Place
Tennessee's MRT section is home to varied attractions, which range from the spectacular to the very quiet and subtle. The segments begins at Reelfoot Lake State park, formed around the lake that was established during the famous New Madrid Earthquake of 1811. This quake, thought to be the largest to hit North America, opened a hole that the Mississippi filled by flowing backward for three days. The park is a haven for extraordinary flora and fauna.


After winding south from the park over rolling Tennessee farmland, one of the smaller villages you will come to is Henning, TN. Here, decades ago, the young Alex Haley heard the family stories of ancestors' trips to America as African slaves. In the 1970's, Haley's book of these stories, "Roots', became a national bestseller and the movie a cultural phenomenon. Haley's boyhood home is open to the public.

Some say that the Mississippi Delta begins in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Cyclists may want to see this for themselves, and might also be interested in a side excursion to Graceland, Elvis Presley's mansion on the south side of town. Of course there's much more to see and do in Memphis, but the Peabody Hotel and Graceland are classic Southern places, and will certainly put you in the mood for your journeys in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.


Take Note

Designation or identification of the Mississippi River Trail is not a guarantee that the route will be safe for all riders under all conditions. The Mississippi River Trail descriptions are intended at this point for use by experienced long-distance bicyclists. Users ride at their own risk, and understand that they will commonly be sharing the road with motorized vehicular traffic. No liability, expressed or implied, is assumed by Mississippi River Trail Inc. for any result occasioned by use of these descriptive documents.

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