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Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails

Greater New Orleans, Louisiana

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Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails

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  • The Barataria Preserve Visitor Center (open daily from 9am until 4:30pm) is also the trailhead for a network of trails that travel through the swamp and to a wildlife overlook area.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • The 1.1 mile Palmetto Trail travels across a boardwalk suitable for strollers and ADA-friendly, passing through a wetlands swamp environment.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • At a fork, a trail signed as the Visitor Center Trail heads to a flat overlook at the border where swamp meets marsh.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • The Visitor Center Trail is a short spur from the Palmetto Trail.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • A frog along the Palmetto Trail.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • The boardwalk Palmetto Trail packs in the most punch in terms of scenery and ambiance of the preserve's swamp trails.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • A snake along the Palmetto Trail.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • The trail passes through many of its namesake Palmettos along its 1.1 mile course.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • A snake swims across one of the marshes.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • Several different trails from the Visitor Center make up the trails leading to the Lower Kenta Canal.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • At a parking area, the Bayou Coquielle Trail heads deeper into the bayou. Visitors can park and start this trail, or shuttle cars here from Visitor Center parking area and the beginning of the Palmetto Trail.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • Bridges and long scenic straight sections of the Bayou Coquille Trail.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • Several viewing platforms are placed as an aside to the primary Bayou Coquille Trail.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • An alligator suns itself along the Marsh Overlook Trail.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • The plank boardwalk that makes up the Marsh Overlook Trail.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • An egret stands in the Lower Kenta Canal along the Marsh Overlook Trail.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • The Marsh Overlook Trail.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • The Marsh Overlook Trail.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • A bridge along the Marsh Overlook Trail.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • The plank walkway of the Marsh Overlook Trail.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • A tall bridge crosses the Lower Kenta Canal at the far end of the Marsh Overlook Trail.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
  • An alligator in the water of the Lower Kenta Canal.- Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve Wetlands Trails
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Beautiful examples of swamp trails, Lots of diverse wildlife, Visitor Center
Cons: 
None
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Region:
Greater New Orleans, LA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Highest point: 
14.00 ft (4.27 m)
Net Elevation Gain: 
2.00 ft (0.61 m)
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
None
Permit required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
4.60 mi (7.40 km)
Total elevation gain: 
16.00 ft (4.88 m)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
12.00 ft (3.66 m)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Several trails spread out from the visitor center at the Barataria Preserve location of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, though probably the most popular and most scenic is a series of trails leading from the visitor center to a wildlife overlook area frequented by birds and alligators. The entire network actually consists of three differently-named trails, and each connect and each has unique attributes. 

The first is the Palmetto Trail that begins right behind the visitor center. The trail follows a smooth wide-plank boardwalk for about 1.1 miles through a dense and shady swamp. Look closely and some of the wetland wildlife such as frogs or snakes may become noticeable. The trail is generally flat and smooth, making its length ADA- and family-friendly. It eventually reaches a second parking area that is located about 0.5 miles northwest of the visitor center on LA Highway-45. From this parking area, hikers can enter the Bayou Coquille Trail, which heads straight down a flat path that approximately parallels Bayou Coquille. Here, several spurs from the trail lead to viewing platforms with interpretive signage. The Bayou Coquille Trail continues for about 0.5 miles and ends at a platform overlooking a marsh.

This platform is the beginning of the Marsh Overlook Trail. The Marsh Overlook Trail area is known for having the most likely sightings of alligators in the preserve. The trail follows alongside the Lower Kenta Canal, a wide waterway used by hunters and trappers to access the further reaches of the area in the past.

All-in-all, following these trails from the visitor center to the end of the Marsh Overlook Trail would be about 2.3 miles (4.6 miles round trip). Hikers can cut some distance off by beginning their hike or shuttling to the second parking area. 

Each hike has its strong points. Of the three, the Palmetto Trail is the only one with an entire length that is ADA-friendly. There are no amenities at the second parking area.

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