The 920-acre Devil's Backbone State Natural Area offers a visitor the opportunity for a quiet hike in a natural environment which has had little affected by modern human activity. The trail takes the hiker from the pavement of the Natchez Trace Parkway (located at milemarker 394 in Lewis County) out along the ridges of Tennessee's Highland Rim, down along a creek, and back again.
This inviting walk provides time for enjoying nature and quiet reflection. Chances are you will have solitude as the trail is not heavily used. The trail is a moderately strenuous loop with 200 feet of elevation change that is about 3 miles long. The natural area gets its name from the old nickname for the Natchez Trace. The 444 mile trip from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, TN was frequently a difficult one involving murderers and thieves, Indians and floods. Travelers attribute their trouble to the work of the Devil.
Devil's Backbone has many important values that make it a significant ecological preserve. Its single most important value is community diversity. Many of the upland vegetation types of the western Highland Rim occur here. These include: 1) White Oak-Northern Red Oak-Hickory Forest 2) Chestnut Oak Forest 3) Chestnut Oak-Black Oak Hickory Forest 4) Beech-Tuliptree-White Oak-Sugar Maple Forest 5) Chestnut Oak-Shortleaf Pine Forest 6) White Oak-Northern Red Oak-Tuliptree Forest 7) Scarlet Oak-Southern Red Oak-Mockernut Hickory Forest and 8) Sycamore-Tuliptree-Beech Forest.
Not many high quality examples of Western Highland Rim forest communities are known to exist because of present and past land use patterns. While Devil's Backbone represents second or third growth forest it is unlikely many other sites on the Western Highland Rim will be identified that better represent the region's upland vegetative types. The forested area outside the existing boundary provides an important buffer and creates a much larger landscape scale ecosystem. The integrity is further improved since there is little exotic pest plant invasion compared to many other areas in the region. Another value relates to its recognition as a Class 1 scenic-recreation area. It can support day use activities and provide education opportunities regarding natural area values without impairing sensitive ecological area. This opportunity is enchanced because of its location on the Natchez Trace Parkway. http://www.state.tn.us/environment/na/natareas/devils