Most people know Poverty Point Reservoir State Park for its large lake and rental cabins on the water. There is another body of water in the vicinity, however, with a wilder and more backwoods feel. Though it is not actually very remote, the bayou that runs alongside the state park is sheilded from the road and other development by trees, and its meandering natural flow is unimpeded in this section. This is Bayou Macon (pronounced like "mason"), and it makes a great one-day paddling trip. The bayou forms the park's eastern boundary, and the typical put-in is from a boat ramp managed by the park just off Poverty Point Parkway. You do not have to go through the park entrance to get there, but you are supposed to stop and pay the entrance fee for using the ramp.
Current is quite weak at normal flows, so the bayou can be paddled in either direction. The usual trip is to go downstream, but upstream is just as good, perhaps even better if you wish to leave the noise of the highway behind. Upstream from the boat ramp, Bayou Macon flows mostly through farmland and is farther from a road. Downstream of the boat ramp it parallels the Poverty Point Parkway, which sits just uphill and through the trees. Traffic is light on this road, though, so you may not even notice it. The distinct advantages of the downstream journey are oxbow lakes to explore and a logistically simple one-way trip option. You can set a shuttle at the boat ramp off US-80, south of Poverty Point, for a trip of approximately 6.5 miles that travels with the current the whole way. Alternatively, you can put in from this boat ramp and travel upstream to explore the lower half of this stretch. There is a collapsed lowhead dam just downstream of the ramp that makes a dangerous rapid, however, so be alert and don't miss the take-out.
While it is true that you're likely to see more the longer you are on the water, out-and-back trips of any distance are good for wildlife spotting and fishing. Alligators are common in the area, but they seem to prefer the habitat of the oxbow lakes over the bayou's main channel. The oxbows are old bends that the bayou used to flow through before they were gradually blocked off by natural sedimentation and abandoned as the stream changed course. Now they make small, calm lakes that wildlife, and especially gators, love. If you want to spot gators and other animals that you might not find in the bayou, visit the oxbows. If you'd rather not see gators, stay away. There is one oxbow on river left just over a mile below the put-in, but it is difficult to notice from the bayou, and you must take out and bushwack up the bank to reach it. Another, larger oxbow is another 2.5 miles downstream on river right. You may be able to paddle into this one if water levels are high enough; otherwise it's a short drag over muddy ground.
Bayou Macon flows for many miles before and after passing Poverty Point State Park, so this section is only one option of many for paddle trips. It makes a nice addition to any stay in the state park, or as a day trip destination all its own. You may aspire to a longer trip, even an overnighter, if you are up for it.
This paddle adventure was equipped by and published in collaboration with Bote Boards.