The tragic history that gives Trail of Tears State Park its name provides a sharp contrast to the peaceful, serene setting and the abundance of recreational opportunities enjoyed by visitors today. The 3,415-acre park is a memorial to the Cherokee Indians that lost their lives in a forced relocation, as well as a place for visitors to participate in a variety of outdoor adventures. The park is located on the site where nine of 13 groups of Cherokee Indians crossed the Mississippi River in harsh winter conditions in 1838-39. Thousands lost their lives on the trail, including dozens on or near the parks grounds. Legend says that Nancy Bushyhead Hildebrand died and was buried within the parks boundaries. The Bushyhead Memorial is a tribute to all the Cherokee who died on the trail. The parks visitor center features exhibits that interpret the forced relocation, as well as the parks many natural features. Today, numerous picnic sites are scattered throughout the park and campsites are available in a wooded area and near the river. Anglers can cast their lines in either the Mississippi River or the 20-acre Lake Boutin, stocked with bass, bluegill and catfish. The parks numerous trails offer opportunities for hiking, backpacking, primitive camping and equestrian pursuits. In winter, the bluffs and cliffs along the river are noted as roosting sites for bald eagles. An accessible overlook provides a majestic view of the river and beyond.
The first 1/3 of the trail was challenging to difficult with many hills and dry creek bed crossings - if one follows the red highlighted trail clockwise. the last part of the trail is actually a blacktop road. It is probably about a half mile. Other routes will avoid the blacktop. There was some vegetation leaning over the trail in some or more areas. long pants is suggested. Trail markers were nonexistent for about the first mile clockwise to the first 't'. Enjoy.
Amy L. on Trail of Tears State Park Pee-Wah Trail
Beautiful hike! Can't wait to do it again!