Louisville Wheelmen

Louisville Wheelmen Newsletter -- March-April 1996

Mississippi River Trail Inaugural Ride


Roll along the mighty Mississippi River for the inaugural ride of the Mississippi River Trail, running approximately 185 miles from Memphis in the south to Reelfoot Lake in the north. This marked route is the first segment of the seven-state Mississippi River Trail, which eventually will run from St. Louis to New Orleans. The inaugural ride will take place on April 20, 1996, and will include several separate and distinct day rides ranging from 45 to 90 miles in length. These loop rides will begin in different locations along the route. Although unsupported and self-contained, ribbon-cutting ceremonies and other festivities are planned in each of the five counties through which the MRT runs and businesses along the route will be available to provide support in the form of food, lodging and the all-important “facilities.” In addition to the several designated day routes, there will be a 135-mile round trip overnight ride starting and ending in Memphis. All rides will be led by local bicyclists and riders may ride all or part of the route on their own. There is no registration fee for the ride; however, riders are required to register for the ride.

The Tennessee portion of the Mississippi River Trail is the first segment of a designated bicycle route developed under the auspices of the Lower Mississippi Delta Development Center that eventually will run from St. Louis to New Orleans. The Tennessee MRT runs along scenic back roads and features a dramatic succession of changing landscapes. From the winding forested roads north of Memphis, the route gently ascends the Chickasaw Bluffs before it passes into a landscape of tilled, bottom land farms. Passing near Alex Haley's boyhood home in Henning and through Fort Pillow Civil War Battlefield, the route moves closer to the Mississippi River. When the river is low, beautiful sandbars are available for picnicking and bird watching as well as for observing the great tows navigating turbulent waters. Once again the route climbs a second Chickasaw Bluff before passing onto a major river levee road. This leads to the rich ecological experience of Reelfoot Lake, created by the great earthquake of 1811-1812, when the Mississippi River briefly ran backward.

The route is identified by unique identification signs featuring the MRT logo and promoted by a not-for-profit umbrella organization, The Mississippi River Bicycling and Hiking Corridor, Inc. Membership in this umbrella organization will be important as a show of support for further development of the route. As the seven-state route develops, the organization will sponsor multi-state rides, festivals and other events to attract both national and international bicyclists and will produce a newsletter for MRT members.

For further information regarding this unique bicycling event, please telephone (901) 757-2271 or write to the Lower Mississippi Delta Development Center, 7777 Walnut Grove Road, Box 27, Memphis, Tennessee 38120 for a complete registration packet, including route maps, individual schedule of events, information on food, transportation and lodging information and other useful information.

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Copyright ©1996 The Louisville Wheelmen

last updated: 25 February 1996
by Duc M. Do