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Henderson Swamp Paddling

Atchafalaya National Heritage Area

Eastern Acadiana, Louisiana

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Henderson Swamp Paddling

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  • High water levels allow for maximum exploration.- Henderson Swamp Paddling
  • There is a paddle trail, but markers are far apart and hard to spot.- Henderson Swamp Paddling
  • Seemingly endless cypress trees.- Henderson Swamp Paddling
  • A great egret fishing near the shore.- Henderson Swamp Paddling
  • Some houseboats have fallen to abandon.- Henderson Swamp Paddling
  • Remains of a houseboat in the swamp.- Henderson Swamp Paddling
  • Paddleboard fun in the cypress grove.- Henderson Swamp Paddling
  • Nesting osprey and another in flight.- Henderson Swamp Paddling
  • Cypress leaves begin to bud out in early spring. - Henderson Swamp Paddling
  • Tree density ranges from wide open to very tight.- Henderson Swamp Paddling
  • Moving softly on calm water in a shady grove.- Henderson Swamp Paddling
  • A deep and dark grove.- Henderson Swamp Paddling
  • Trees become sparse farther out in the lake.- Henderson Swamp Paddling
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Deep cypress groves. Fishing spots.
Cons: 
Interstate noise.
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Region:
Eastern Acadiana, LA
Access: 
Vehicle
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Site characteristics: Water: 
Lake
Motorized watercraft allowed: 
Yes
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
General Day Use Fee
Portage required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Put-in location (lat, long coordinates): 
30.315125, -91.786994
Shuttle required: 
No
Take-out location (lat, long coordinates): 
30.315125, -91.786994
Total Distance: 
3.00 mi (4.83 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Typically multi-day: 
No
Water difficulty: 
Easy / Class A
Water temperature: 
140.00 °F (60.00 °C)
Current Local Weather:
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Paddle Description

Paddle Description

Pro Contributor

Louisiana's Atchafalaya Basin is the largest river swamp in the entire country. Travelers along I-10 may know it only as the really long bridge—the interstate is elevated for nearly 20 miles to cross the swamp and its rivers—but this huge and diverse ecosystem deserves more than a fleeting glimpse from above. To really experience the swamp, you have to get in it. There are ways to access many of the Basin's various regions, but one of the simplest is at the boat ramp in Henderson. The body of water here, known as Henderson Lake or Henderson Swamp, is but one pocket of Atchafalaya's vast network of waterways. This is the same vicinity as many of the famous swamp tours near Breaux Bridge, so it's a proven hotspot for wildife spotting and fishing.

Kern's Landing is the ramp to begin from. It is privately owned, so be sure to pay the $2 canoe launch fee. You will first paddle out on a dredged arm of the lake lined with shrubby vegetation and hardwood trees, but the scenery doesn't take long to get really good. As you go farther, water and cypress groves take over. To your left, you will soon be staring into a seemingly endless forest of pure cypress. Straight ahead are the open waters of Henderson Lake. The mixed density of the cypress forest makes a patchwork of dark groves and sunny clearings, so you can choose to paddle among lots of trees near the shore or fewer trees out in the lake. These are nice alternatives to have because you can seek shade on hot days, sun on chilly days, and retreat from choppy water on windy days. The swamp is filled for much of the year, but when it's not you'll have slightly fewer options. At low water levels you'll be restricted to the lake's edge and lagoons, but the scenery is no less impressive, and your chances at seeing wildlife may actually be better with less water. You might spot any of the basin's more than 250 bird species, many kinds of turtles, fish, and maybe an alligator.

You will pass dilapitated old house boats in the swamp. Most of them appear to be abandoned, possibly after hurricane damage or simply years of disrepair. You will also see the I-10 bridge to the north as it begins its long aerial traverse of the basin. These manmade features detract from the natural setting somewhat, but they are all part of the long and continuing history of humans' interaction with the environment in Atchafalaya, which is a designated National Heritage Area as well as a National Wildlife Refuge.

This paddle adventure was equipped by and published in collaboration with Bote Boards.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

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(7 within a 30 mile radius)

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