Unwind & Untangle
New Albany’s 44-mile Tanglefoot Trail stretches further
than the average outdoor excursion
Review by Casey Hilder
For those seeking arelaxing way to work out this summer, New Albany’s Tanglefoot Trail might be the perfect solution. This 44-mile trail, which opened in 2013, offers a scenic route from the tiny town of New Albany all the way to Houston, Mississippi, with plenty of sights, sounds and shopping in between.
Tanglefoot Trail, located in the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area, preserves the abandoned railroad corridor assembled in part for the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad by Col. William C. Falkner beginning in 1871. The asphalt trail offers multi-use recreational opportunities as it winds through six communities — New Albany, Ecru, Pontotoc, Algoma, New Houlka and Houston and three counties - Union, Pontotoc and Chickasaw.
“It’s had a huge economic impact on our town,” says Sean Johnson, Executive Director of New Albany Marketing & Tourism. “The trail has really put us on the map and given us a foothold on tourism tax revenue in the city.”
The path itself is relatively gentle, with a fully paved level incline suited for most cyclists flanked with scenic rolling hills, snaking through several quaint communities such as Ecru, Mississippi, a town founded by William Faulkner’s grandfather that borders Pontotoc and Union County. The trail also passes through the old stomping grounds of Ishtehotohpih, the last of the Chickasaw rulers who bore the title of king. Hernando De Soto traveled along the route of the Tanglefoot Trail as he made his way toward the Mississippi River, as well as famed explorer Meriwether Lewis.
“It was an old Chickasaw trail that turned into a road that turned into a railway,” Johnson says. “It’s really a trail through history. Wherever you look, you’re gonna find some history on this trail”
New Albany is locally famous for its bustling antique market at stores like Blue Rose, Re-Designing Women and the Riverside Flea Market. However, the Tanglefoot Trail has provided the town with new opportunities through group runs, cycling and self-fashioned “shopping trails”.
“We have started to see a lot of people taking the trail to Houston and then antique shopping their way back to New Albany,” Johnson says. “It’s definitely a unique way for visitors to see what we’ve got to offer down here.”