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Mississippi River Riding Trail

Listed under Cycling in Plains Midwest, United States.

  • Photo of Mississippi River Riding Trail
  • Photo of Mississippi River Riding Trail
  • Photo of Mississippi River Riding Trail
  • Photo of Mississippi River Riding Trail
  • Photo of Mississippi River Riding Trail
  • Photo of Mississippi River Riding Trail
  • Photo of Mississippi River Riding Trail
  • Photo of Mississippi River Riding Trail
Photo of Mississippi River Riding Trail
Photo by flickr user Trailnet
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This journey, if completed in it’s entirety would take you from the Mississippi’s headwaters near it’s source to it’s mouth in the Gulf of Mexico and through ten American States in between. It is intended that there will be pedestrian access, or cyclist friendly roads along both river banks, however at the moment many portions of trail are incomplete.

The trail begins in the pine forests of Itasca State Park then continues on to the city of Bemidji then through the farming, golfing flat lake country around Brainerd. It’s more difficult to follow the river precisely closer to it’s source but the trail leads through a series of picturesque small American towns before hitting Minneapolis and St. Pauls.

The terrain in Iowa flattens out more than the bluffs of the trails start. This is one of the most significant stretches of the river historically. It winds through woods and more farms past the Effigy Mounds National Monument and the Indian carvings it protects. The trail becomes more rolling around Dubuque County where the landscape is all green hills into the city itself, in good repair historically. Past this the river is quieter and the land flat farmland again and into Missouri where the landscape begins to take on the look of the delta plains and levee systems to come.

The route passes through Hannibal, Mark Twain’s home town then continues on towards continental St. Louis then Memphis and into Arkansas, where the scenery is even flatter and the farms grow cotton and rice.

The Arkansas stretch of the route is the quietest as far as civilisation goes, with empty farmland for kilometre upon kilometre. Into Louisiana the river becomes the dominant feature of the countryside, the only other features more farms and huge levees.

After Natchez the pace of life begins to pick up again as you head through archaeologically significant Poverty Point (an ancient earth works.) towards New Orleans through river towns and resort towns and historic towns. One of the most interesting features of this end of the trip are the above ground cemeteries which signal that the river is reaching it’s most swollen.

After New Orleans it’s plantation country with vast colonial mansions and graceful sweeping ruins then the churning estuary itself.

Written by  Kim Marsden.

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