Experiencing the great outdoors can be the ultimate get away from your daily hustle. The immersion into nature, taking in the stillness or ingesting an abundance of wildlife, can truly set the mind at ease as another busy week approaches. Since Louisiana provides an abundance of hardwood forests, lakes, bayous, and creeks, the adventure into the great beyond is almost endless. There are no mountains to explore, but down in the Bayou State there are still tons of unique hiking trails for eager adventurers to take-in. Here are 15 hiking in trails in Louisiana that we love.
This trail located just below Alexandria in the small town of Woodworth is approximately 31 miles in length. Designated as a National Recreation Trail due to its outstanding scenic values this woodsy escape is for foot traffic only. Don’t worry. Hiking the entire 16-hour trail does not have to be done all at once. There are camping area along the way with water services and shelters. For those one-day hikers, State Highway 488 intersects right in the middle of the trail for an easy escape. Travelers of this trail rave of the beautiful wild flowers, its excellent maintenance, and the varied lengths one may take.
Located in Chicot State Park, this trail loops around a beautiful lake for approximately 19.2 miles. There is primitive camping along the way if you care to make it a two-day trip and simply experience the beauty of the lake with some rented boats. There are also lots bottomland hardwood forests, including stunningly submerged cypress trees along with a Louisiana selection of wildlife. Many species of birds, such as owls, can be seen throughout the trail and the lake itself attracts birds, fish and reptiles.
This park offers a 4.8-mile hiking trail in the woods and a 1.25-mile elevated nature trail through the swamps that both make for great day trip hiking. The trails both border Lake Pontchartrain and when you finish your hike of either or both trails feel free to bask in the sun on the beach. One trail has the ruins of an old sugar mill from 1829, where Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville founder of the city, sustained his fortune. The convenience of this trail is also a plus, as it is just a short 24-mile drive across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway from New Orleans.
This 3.3-mile trek is longest trail in the Lake Fausse Pointe State Park. Here guests may discover tons of vegetative areas in the bottomland swamp along with breathtaking sunsets at the Lake Fausse Pointe. Due to the low-lying state of the trail many area may be wet. However, to make up for that the park has installed bridges along the lowest lying parts, including a 525-foot bridge into a cypress swamp! Guests are also able to experience a three-quarter-mile Armadillo Ridge Trail and a 1.6-mile Cardinal Ridge Trail within the same park. Canoe and backpacking campsites are available if you care to hit all three!
Located in the Kisatchie National Forest in central Louisiana, the Backbone Trail is a hefty walk through the woods. It is about 7.6 miles-long, but many recommend parking at the Caroline Dormon Trailhead then walking up 2.5 miles to the Backbone Trail for easy vehicle access as that is where the trails end. It has some different hiking than in the southern parts of the state. Large pines cover the area, along with high ridges, some rocky terrain, and lots of forest wildlife. The trail is said to be easy to handle in the hot summer months, which in Louisiana isn’t always the case. The southern end of the trail has tons of scenery that includes a creek. Many hikers say they often take a detour along the hilly Turpentine Trail that is in the same area. Though since there are a few trails in the area make sure to not get lost!
This in-city trail is literally known as the natural escape in the heart of the city. Home to New Orleans’ highest natural point of elevation, Laborde Mountain, a whopping 43 feet above sea level, the forest also is host to eight distinct eco systems. It is located in New Orleans City Park off Harrison Avenue and was made as a destination for wildlife, vegetation, and peace. Most of the trail wraps around the woods that include beautiful oaks, palmettos, and lots of other vegetation marked by signs along the way. Signs also describe the various animals such as the amphibious and bird populations in the area. One of the best views is across the waterway to scout island, which the forest combines with to total over 60 acres of calming terrain.
This trail loops around Caney Lake in the Kisatchie National Forest and is located in the Caney Lakes Recreation Center. The two sections of the trail make for diverse views and wildlife. The Upper Caney Lake is quieter with lily pads and more of an irregular shoreline along the lake. The Upper Caney Lake is a little noisier and can attract water skiers in the summer months though it is twice as big. The hills provide for shady pinewood groves and the bottoms provide for that classic Louisiana boggy bottomland forest. Overall, this nationally recognized historic trail makes for a great day hike with an assortment of scenic landscapes.
Just outside the camping grounds of Tunica Hills are three outstanding trails each being about 3-4 miles long. Located in the gorgeous rolling hills just outside of St. Francisville, this area is loaded with upland hardwood forests that provide the perfect home for many forest critters. White-tailed deer, wild turkey, rabbits, chipmunks and many more forest inhabitants roam the area freely. This is also one of the most vibrant areas during autumn in Louisiana as many of the trees show off their vibrant fall colors and migratory bird, such as the worm eating warbler and Coopers Hawk are said to regularly visit the area. The three trails are located on the South Tract along with a nature trail that is better for families with small children as it is only 0.4-miles-long with a bench to sit on. A cool, clear creek runs under Old Tunica Rd in that area, and is perfect for a post-hike cool down!
This small, mostly gravel trail is easygoing and has bathrooms as well as a shower at the head of the trail. Opened in 2002 by BREC, this restored area was once a gravel mine that BREC and the Army Corps of Engineers restored into this pristine place to protect the local wildlife. As so, many native species of trees such as bald cypress, tupelo gum, and river birch trees can be found along the trail. The best-kept secret about the trail is that it opens up to a sandy area off the Comite River where you can post up, chill out, and even take a dip. Most of the water is only about knee deep but at some points it can be close to four feet allowing you to get a good soak. Located on the outskirts of Baton Rouge off Hooper Road, this easy path is a great way to take a break from the city.
This preserve has a 2.5-mile levee trail along the banks of Lake Martin in between Breaux Bridge and Lafayette. This lake’s location is rich with the diverse landscape that attracted the Acadians to the area so long ago. However, one of the greatest gems of this preserve is the fact that it is one of the largest nesting of wading birds in America and can be enjoyed by bird lovers from all over. It has been listed as a top 10 birding site by the Audubon Society with visitors often seeing little blue herons, snowy egrets, roseate spoonbills and many more types of native birds. Many also claim this is one of the best spots to see live alligators along with the occasional nutria and other swamp creatures. However, if the preserve would like guests to know that if you arrive during alligator mating season the levee trail will be closed.
This nature area has many hiking and nature trails that all culminate into the Barataria Preserve Trails. The majority of the trails are less than one mile long, so visitors will more than likely check out a few upon their visit. The Plantation Trail is the longest, sitting at 1.8 miles with views of old plantation irrigations, giant live oaks, and deer. However, the 1.4-mile-long Old Barataria Trail is said to be the least trafficked trail, and the Wood Duck trail has peaceful ponds and forest birds to view along its 0.4-mile-long stroll. Many of the walking trails in the preserve, such as the Bayou Coquille Trail and the Palmetto Trail, are wheelchair and stroller accessible though the scenery is just as good and the information posts are fascinating. The Marsh Overlook Trail is just that as it overlooks the serene Louisiana marsh landscape and alligators can sometimes be viewed during high water!
Located on the Saline Bayou National Scenic River Corridor in the Kisatchie National Forest, this point-to-point trail winds on down the bayou. A pleasant three-mile hike through central Louisiana terrain, the trail goes from Cloud Crossing Recreation Area to the Pearfield Launch Site. The bayou certainly has its own beauty and can spill out over the terrain during high water seasons. Wooden bridges are placed in the lowest lying areas for the convenience of hikers, typically surrounded by groves of cypress knees and their parents. Otters, wood ducks, and pileated wood peckers are some of the creatures seen throughout the area.
This trail has three different roadways to venture down though it mostly does make a giant 7.7-mile-long loop. An abundance of wildlife roams the area, as the hardwood and pine forests along with the waterways and lagoons in the area create a unique habitat for many creatures. Deer, bobcats, squirrels, foxes, and a diverse birdlife can all be spotted in the area. Taking the Old Stagecoach Road will lead hikers around various tributaries of the Calcasieu River. Overnight visitors are welcome.
This trail opened in 2003 in the Eddie D. Jones Park in Caddo Parish. The park itself has over 10 miles of hiking and biking trails in a deep wilderness setting, though the main loop is a 6.5-mile hike. The trails are lightly trafficked and very well maintained. However, that is not the best part of Monkey Trail. Besides maintaining the upkeep of the trails the park is also responsible for its Chimp Haven, A 200-acre chimpanzee sanctuary run by the non-profit group Chimp Haven, Inc. Many hikers say you can hear the chimpanzees all along the forest trail, making for a true Tarzan-and-Jane experience! The park also maintains an 82-acre Veterans Cemetery that guests can view after their hike if they like. Watch out for bikers, as well as horse riders on some of the trails since some of them intersect. The park suggests preparing for a deep woods experience by bringing snacks, plenty of water, and bug spray.
This light 1.9-mile trail is great for beginner hikers. Delving into the woods, this trail gets up to 535 feet in elevation making it the tallest natural point in the state. It is a short hike that is good for kids in the area as it is known to be clean and well marked. Plus, some say there is a notebook to sign at the top of the hill! The trail simply leads up, with two options to reach the summit, though either are too challenging. Nature enthusiasts can then make their way back down and back the same path when they are ready to end their cool morning or afternoon hike.