Kentucky Border to TN 157 on Mt. Manuel Church Road, about 5 miles.
Mt. Manuel Church Road to TN 22 on TN 157, about 1 mile.
You can see how this brief stretch of TN 157 connects Mt. Manuel Church Road with TN 22 at the top-right of our Reelfoot map.
TN 157 to Samburg, on TN 22, about 4 miles.
Once you come off Mt. Manuel Church Rd, you leave the loess-capped uplands and enter onto the alluvial lowlands comprising the Mississippi River's floodplain. As you ride down TN 22, the loess cliff rises clearly and dramatically just to the east, while the flat lowlands, and in some places the lake itself, lie toward the west.
Reelfoot Lake State Resort Park with its Baldcypress swamps is very picturesque, with camping, boating and other activities offered.
Between Samburg and Dyersburg 25 miles to the south it's possible to travel very pretty backroads. However, the roads are poorly marked and constitute a maze. From Samburg if you go to Hornbeak on TN 21 and shoot south on what may or may not be signed as "S Main," and keep following the main road as it meanders and dips usually in a southerly direction, you may surprise yourself by eventually pulling into Dyersburg. Just keep going southward, all the way into Dyer County, to Dyersburg.
The best way to get from Dyersburg onto the road connecting with the pretty road described above in Obion County is to begin on the town's bypass, Byp 51 or TN 3. On the north side of town, look for the exit onto Millsfield Hwy, to Millsfield, toward the north. I'm not sure how it is signed, but it's the only large 4-lane between the TN 78 Exit and the Bypass's beginning on US 51. On this road pass through Millsfield, then just keep going across the little Obion River north into Obion County, and always stay on the main road heading northward, and hope to eventually end up in Hornbeak.
From juncture of BYP 51 and Business 51 one mile south of Dyersburg, go south 1 mile to Four Points, then Turn right (west) at the stoplight onto Unionville Road, and continue into Lauderdale County.
On Unionville Road 7 miles south of Four Points in Dyer County, turn right (west) onto TN 88.
On TN 88, go 3 miles west, then immediately before the road plummets down the loess cliff into the lowlands, turn left (south) onto the unsigned road at Porter Gap.
Continue 3 miles and turn right (west) onto Edith-Nankipoo Road.
A pretty stretch here with the loess bluff close to the west.
On Edith-Nankipoo Road continue 3 miles and turn left (south) onto Jeff Webb Road.
On Jeff Webb Road, continue 5 miles to triangular intersection with Arp-Central Rd.
Continued pretty hill country near the bluff's face, always just to the west.
On Arp-Central Rd continue 4 miles to Arp and intersection with TN 19.
On TN 19 travel west for 20 miles, to Keyes Point.
These 20 miles on TN 19 first take you through an upland agricultural area, but soon you find yourself dramatically descending the loess bluff into the lowlands -- the flat, swampy floodplain of the Mississippi River. Here you see enormous acreage of cotton and soybean. At Ashport TN 19 draws close to the river and you may find a small road leading to a boat-launch. TN 19 comes closest to the river, however, further down the road at unsigned Keyes Point, about 20 miles from Arp. Many fisherman may have their cars parked here, and if you also park (careful -- after a rain this can be a quagmire) and walk down to the river you will be impressed. Looking downriver to the west, you'll be gazing toward Osceola, Arkansas, just 3 miles away.
At Keyes Point continue south on Crutcher Lake Road and follow it as it bends back toward the east, passes Crutcher Lake spur Rd, and 10 miles from Keyes Point intersects with TN 87.
During the above drive you will pass along some very pretty lakes, then cross Cold Creek and immediately ascend back onto the Loess Bluff, entering Fort Pillow State Park as you do so.
On TN 87 go right (west) 2 miles, to the intersection with TN 207.
On TN 207, continue for 2 miles, following signs to the Ft. Pillow Visitor Center.
Fort Pillow State Historic Area offers about 23 miles of hiking trails and plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities (the Mississippi Kite frequents the bluff area during the summer), but the main attraction for most long-distance travelers who come here is to survey the site of important Civil War activities here. Our map shows the roads in and around the park.
Leaving Fort Pillow and reaching TN 87, it may be interesting for you to continue on TN 87 westward for about 3 miles, to where it ends abruptly and unceremoniously at a fine overlook across the Mississippi River, shown at the right. The gray area in the photo with red graffiti is the asphalt remnant of TN 87. Here the Mississippi is clearly in the process of even today changing its location, now eating eastward, up TN 87. To visit this fine place, one must park rather awkwardly in the weeds, at a highway barrier, then walk over a large area of broken beer bottles.
Follow TN 87 eastward for about 19 miles to US 51 at Henning.
In Henning you can visit the Alex Haley House Museum at 200 S. Church Street (901-738-2240). This is he boyhood home of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alex Haley (author of Roots). Maintaining much of its 1920s appearance, it contains Haley memorabilia, family artifacts, audio tapes and a gift shop. The front lawn is the final resting place of this master storyteller.
For about 17 miles follow US 51 south from Henning to Covington, and in downtown Covington turn right, (west) onto TN 59.
Midway this stretch in a landscape showing little evidence of loess, the highway crosses the Hatchie River, entering Tipton County.
From US 51 coming from the north, in downtown Covington turn right on TN 59.
On TN 59 go 11 miles west and turn right on Jamestown Rd, just beyond the community of Gilt Edge.
Go 2 miles to the end of Jamestown Rd., then turn left onto Detroit-Randolph Rd.
On Detroit-Randolph Rd. we finally return to our familiar loess-bluff landscape.
On Detroit-Randolph Rd. go about 3 miles to unmarked TN 59, identifiable because a yellow strip runs down the center, and turn right (southwest).
Follow TN 59 for 4 miles to the community of Richardsons, where the road forks. Take the left onto an unsigned road toward the southwest.
On this unsigned road continue a mile or so to an intersection and then go right, toward the radio towers.
Roads are not marked well in this area. Just keep going "straight" and you may end up taking the right roads. You may be able to follow MRT bicycle-route signs or signs pointing toward the radio towers, where regular highway signs are missing. Once past the radio towers, just keep heading south-southwesterly. At some point during this passage, signs appear declaring that we are on Herring Hill Road. About 4 miles south of the radio towers, the road turns to gravel, then three miles later asphalt reappears. This gravel road more or less announces the boundary between Tipton and Shelby Counties. About a mile after the asphalt reappears, you come to River Bluff Rd.
As soon as you enter Shelby County from the north you are in an area where many people who work in Memphis "live in country." The roads here are many and poorly marked. If arriving from the north and you think you might be on the right road, just "keep going straight" on whatever road appears to be the "main road," generally heading southwestward. Our next stop is Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, so if you see signs leading in that direction, take them. MRT Bicycle Route signs are often more helpful than local highway signs, for here we follow the bikers.
Meeman Shelby State Park is a pretty, heavily forested, hilly area with classic loess-zone topography. It is supposed to offer fine hiking opportunities, but during my visit its trails were overgrown, poorly marked, and the maps were misleading. It does have the basics you'd expect in any state park. We provide a map roads in and around the park.
From the Meeman-Shelby FSP entrance take Bluff Road one mile south to Locke, and turn right on Benjestown Road.
For several miles stay on Benjestown Road by keeping to the main road as it meanders through the hills and you pass several intersections. At some point Benjestown Road becomes North Circle Road. If now you see a large road heading eastward, take it, with the hope of finding TN 388, a large 4-lane, on which you will turn right and head south toward Memphis. We did not find maps of the area to reflect ground conditions so we got lost trying to find TN 388. Once you're on North Circle, just begin looking for ways to get east to TN 388.
On TN 388, continue south about 2 miles to the busy intersection with US 51.
Follow US 51 into Memphis. See the sights, then depart town on the south side on US 61 (not 51). US 61 appears to coincide with 3rd St. paralleling the river.
About 1.5 miles south of the Nonconnah River bridge (just after the intersection with I-55), go right (west) on Mitchell Road.
Stay on Mitchell Road for 3 miles, following signs to T.O. Fuller State Park.
T.O. Fuller State Park is a popular camping, swimming, picnicking and golfing area, with lots of grassy fields. On the park grounds (see the map at the site just linked to) lies the Chucalissa Indian Village, consisting of a museum and a reconstructed village.
From T.O. Fuller SP, return to US 61.
Follow US 61 southwest to the Mississippi Line and beyond.
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