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.