Hiking Hit List
09/26/2016 07:00AM ● Published by Robert Frey
Gallery: Hiking Hit List [10 Images] Click any image to expand.
By Amanda Jean Elliot
In just weeks the temperatures will cool and eventually the leaves will change. And all across Louisiana there are trails short and small, challenging or relaxing waiting for your willing feet. Read on for a list of can’t-miss spots of beauty nearly in our own backyard.
Chicot State Park
3469 Chicot Park Road
Ville Platte, LA 70586
Covering more than 6,000 acres of rolling hills, Chicot State Park is a quick trip perfect for day hikes as well as fishing, picnicking and birding. The park includes a fish-filled 2,000-acre reservoir as well a bevy of campsite (nearly 200) along with backpacking sites and primitive camping options, a playground and rental pavilions.
If a more lux trip is your speed Chicot offers 15 deluxe cabins and 2 lodges.
Louisiana State Arboretum
1300 Sudie Lawton Lane
Ville Platte, LA 70586
(Located within Chicot State Park)
The Arboretum Visitor Center is located within Chicot State Park and offers great trails for hikers of all ability as well as activities for the entire family.
Trails from the area include:
Walker Branch Trail — 1.5 miles
Backbone Ridge Trail — 1.25 mile
Paw Paw Loop — 1.25 miles
Wetland Trail — .7 mile
Baldcypress — 500 feet
Third Saturday of the month — Nature for Kids, 10 a.m.
Children will learn about a new nature topic each month and will make a related craft to take home with them. Topics could include: reptiles, astronomy, insects and many more.
Sept. 10 — Hummingbirds, 2 p.m. Join the Arboretum staff to learn how to attract hummingbirds to your yard with flowers and feeders.
Sept. 17 — Compass Scavenger Hunt, 2 p.m. Come to the nature center and learn how to use a compass and read a map. Visitors will then embark on an adventure through the Arboretum using a map and compass, and finding various features of the Arboretum.
Sept. 24 — Squirrel Day, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Bring the children to learn about squirrels and hunters safety with Acadiana Resource Conservation and Development Council.
Lake Martin And Cypress Island
1264 Prairie Hwy
St Martinville, LA 70582
Located near Breaux Bridge just a short way from Lafayette and covering approximately 9,500 acres of beautiful cypress-tupelo swamp and bottomland hardwood forest habitat is the protected area of Cypress Island.
Beginning the fall and carrying into the spring a 2.5-mile walking levee trail is open and even suitable for children.
The 2.5-mile walking levee trail is open from the fall to the spring and is suitable for children. The trail is closed during alligator nesting season from June through October so fall is the perfect time to hit the trail safely. While the trail maybe closed in September the preserve area is beautiful and will be open during daylight hours and the rookery area (closed from February through the end of July) will be open in the fall as well along the southern end of Lake Martin. Lake Martin has been listed as one of the Top Ten bird watching spots in the country by the Audubon Society and the area has epic sunsets year round.
Lake Fausse Pointe
5400 Levee Road
St. Martinville, LA 70582
Located in the Atchafalaya Basin, Lake Fausse Pointe State Park is a 6,000-acre site that was once home to the Chitimacha Indians and is now home to three different hiking trails and a slew of camping spots.
Trails at Lake Fausse Pointe
Trail A — 3/4-mile nature trail
Trail B — 1.6-mile nature trail
Trail C — 3.3-mile nature trail
There is also a 7-mile canoe trail.
Lake Fausse point has rentals for boats and kayaks as well as campsites just for those who want to paddle in and out as well as deluxe campsites and other primitive sites. Give them a call for information on the different types of cabins available year round.
Kisatchie National Forest
The state’s only national forest is located near Alexandria and covers more than 604,000 acres across seven parishes with hidden bayous, cypress groves and pine.
The trails are diverse and the offerings are broad at Kisatchie. Just ask hiker Kari Walker who enjoys hitting the trails with her family and friends or Alexis Romero who has camped and hiked up the state’s longest trail located in Kisatchie.
“Some of my favorite places are up in Kisatchie Forest like the Wild Azalea trial which is the longest in Louisiana — 26 miles,” Romero says. “And it changes as you walk. You go from piney areas to lower creeks and by Lake Kincaide. In the fall the leaves change and it’s really pretty and the weather is really nice.”
The beauty of the Kisatchie trails are that they can be hiked in smaller sections if a two or three-day trek isn’t your cup of tea.
Campsites at Kisatchie are available whether you want to sleep along the long trails or do a less primitive spot where you can pull everything out of the car nearby.
Fontainebleau State Park
62883 Hwy. 1089
Mandeville, LA 70448
Located near the New Orleans area, Fontainebleau State Park is a 800-acre park on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain with two trails and more than 400 species of animals and birds along with spots for camping and a lodge along with cabins.
It’s a favorite spot for Walker who has fond childhood memories of time spent at Fontainebleau.
“Fontainebleau State Park really has nice bathrooms and I grew up going there,” she says.
Trails at Fontainebleau State Park:
4.8-mile hiking trail
1.25 mile nature trail
Acadiana Park Nature Trail
Located in Lafayette off of East Alexander Street, Acadiana Park Nature Station is a 150-acre tract of land with 6 miles of hiking trails in the midst of the city and includes the François Coulee (also known as the Dan Debaillon Coulee).
François Coulee drains from west to east near the northern edge of the park and in the fall the coulee is encrusted with a small floating aquatic plant called duckweed and fishes that include bowfin and spotted gar.
The Acadiana Park Nature Station includes a boardwalk, which is wheelchair accessible. There are many dirt trails including some across the canal. Some trails are in a bottomland hardwood forest, which means there may be standing water after heavy rainfall.
State Park Hiking Trails:
Bayou Segnette: (888)677-2296
Bogue Chitto: (888)677-7312
Chicot: (888)677-2442 Fairview-Riverside: (888)677-3247 Fontainebleau: (888)677-3668 Grand Isle: (888)787-2559 Hodges Gardens: (800)354-3523
Jimmie Davis: (888)677-2263
Lake Bistineau: (888)677-2478
Lake Claiborne: (888)677-2524
Lake D’Arbonne: (888)677-5200
Lake Fausse Pointe: (888)677-7200
North Toledo Bend: (888)677-6400 Palmetto Island: (877)677-0094
Poverty Point Reservoir: (800)474-0392
St. Bernard: (888)677-7823
Sam Houston Jones: (888)677-7264 South Toledo Bend: (888)398-4770 Tickfaw: (888)981-2020
For those looking for a diverse offering of trips from hiking and camping to hitting the water and even fishing, Pack and Paddle offers a bevy of choices each month. Check them out at packpaddle.com for more trips throughout the fall as well as pricing and details for each excursion.
September 3: Lake Charlo - An Urban/Wilderness Paddle
September 4: Louisiana Hooked Kayak Fishing Trip
September 4: Bayou St. John - An Urban SUP Adventure
September 8: Kayaking 101 - Basic Skills for Flatwater Kayaking
September 11: Hobie First Cast Kayak Fishing Trip
September 16: Harvest Moon Evening Paddle and Supper at Lake Martin