Mississippi River Trail - Road Running

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About

Summary

The Tennessee section of this 3,000-mile trail passes right through Memphis and offers an easy option for city dwellers to get in a run.

Written by

Cinnamon Janzer

Distance

3000.0 miles

Roughly 450 miles in Tennessee. The trail follows highways pretty much the entire way, so it’s pretty easy to hop on and off and customize the length of your run.

Destination Distance From Downtown

1.6 miles

Difficulty

1 of 5 diamonds

In the city, the trail is well-maintained and easy to navigate, but it gets much more confusing once you leave Memphis. If you went on a brief run, it would be easy, but if you went on to tackle the entire Tennessee section of the trail (or the whole trail itself), you’d really be in for a challenge.

Time To Complete

1 hours

30 minutes to several days

Seasonality

All Seasons

The trails is pretty obvious throughout, except for a section in the Tennessee countryside after it passes through Memphis.

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Fees Permits

No

Review

Intro

This trail is both mighty and easy peasy in equal measure. You can hop on it for a few miles around Memphis, notch it up to dozens of miles between Memphis and neighboring towns, or even tackle the entire Tennessee section of the trail. It’s really what you make of it, and that’s the beauty of the Mississippi River Trail.

What Makes It Great

While the trail makes its way through all kinds of sights and sites across its 3,000-mile expanse, the Tennessee section of the trail is undoubtedly special. The Mississippi River Trail closely follows highways the entire way, save for a country-side filled section of the trail just outside of Memphis, so running the trail in Tennessee will give you a different experience than on any other section of this mega trail.

The trail enters the Volunteer State in Obion County from Kentucky and meanders its way through historic scapes like Reelfoot Lake State Park which was formed during the epic quake of 1811 that centered near New Madrid, Tennessee, and the home of Alex Haley near Henning. You’ll also pass through natural beauties like the Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge and the beautiful Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, filled with trees that have won local and national awards, believe it or not. The trail crosses over the Loosahatchie River and into Memphis where you can barbeque and blues it up to until your heart’s content. Once the trail exits Memphis via Mud Island, the route becomes a little less clear, but is considered to run along the side of the fourth Chickasaw Bluff and eventually land on the border of Arkansas.

The sheer variety of things to do and landscapes to experience is what makes the Mississippi River Trail stand out so much among the rest in Tennessee and across the country.

Who is Going to Love It

Because of the length, you can really get in as many miles as you want. You could put in some speedwork or get in a scenic long run along the Mississippi. The flat and well-maintained path makes the mileage and your pace the main challenge on the trail.

Runners who don’t love to wander into the woods but prefer to be nearer to civilization on their route will be happy too—the whole thing follows highways (save for a section to the south of Memphis), so you can keep that lonely feeling at bay while still basking in solitude.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

While there’s no official start or end to the trail, if you’re looking to hop on it at Memphis, the city’s downtown has some of the lowest parking rates in the country, so it’s entirely possible to find a place to leave your car without breaking the bank.

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Location

Mississippi River Trail

35.131913, -90.067482

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