Lesson Plan

Planning the Trek

Grade Level:
Fourth Grade-Eighth Grade
Civic Engagement, Design, Family Life, Geography, Health, History, Mathematics, Physical Education, Physical Fitness, Recreation / Leisure / Tourism, Social Studies, Transportation
30 minutes or more
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
MS Objectives:
3, 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d, 3f, 3h, 5, 5c

1, 2
legend, Map Key, boatman, Kaintuck, math, trip planning, mapping, measuring, distance, map skills


Students will use maps to locate specific points and measure the distances between those points. Students they will pretend they are mapping out a trip along the Natchez Trace. They will determine how long it would take to drive (easy), walk (hard), bike, and ride the Natchez Trace Parkway today. They will compare their answers to the average time it took historic boatmen to travel the Trace.


Enduring Understanding: Math can help us to better understand our relationship with the world around us.

Essential Question: What factors make it quicker to hike the Natchez Trace today rather than in the early 1800's.

The students will be able to:

1) locate various places on Natchez Trace Parkway

2) Identify landmarks on a map

3) measure distances between points on a map.

4) Use personal judgment to plan a successful trip.


The old Natchez Trace was a hard place to walk. A very fast journey would take about two weeks. Most people took much longer; some people died or were murdered before they completed their journey. A healthy person in good shape can walk 15 or 20 miles per day. Today An experienced bicyclist might travel 50 miles per day. The speed limit on the Natchez Trace Parkway is 50 miles per hour. Horses can average 35 miles on good trails.


1.) Instructions

2.) Natchez Trace Map

3.) Bicycling Tracking Sheet

4.) Car or Motorcycle Tracking Sheet

5.) Hiking Trip Tracking Sheet

6.) Horseback Riding Tracking Sheet

7.) Scissors and tape to put the 4 sections of map in proper sequence


Student Task: The students will determine the number of stops (nights) or the number of hours it takes to travel the Trace. The students may be assigned only the hiking option, or all of the options.

Student Instruction:

1.) Map a trip along the Natchez Trace.

2.) Depending on the teacher assignment, you will hike, bike, ride or drive.

3.) Hikers may hike no more than 20 miles per day. You may hike less than 20 miles.

4.) Bikers may bike no more than 50 miles but may bike less.

5.) Riders may ride no more than 35 miles but may ride less and drives must travel no more than 50 miles per hour.

6.) You will need to stop and spend the night at a town or campground.

7.) On your tracking sheet, write the name of the stop and the mileage you traveled that day. When you are done, count the number of stops you made. This is how many nights you spent on the Natchez Trace.

Teacher Closure: Lead the students in a discussion about what factors make it quicker to hike the Natchez Trace today rather than in the early 1800's.


Participation in the activity and follow-up discussion.

Park Connections

Makes students more familiar with the Natchez Trace Parkway and the ways they can travel the parkway and trails.


1.) Play the Trekking the Trace Classroom Game

2.) Visit the Natchez Trace Parkway and see how long it takes your school bus to travel from one point to the next.


Legend, map key, boatmen