Lake Chicot is part of the 6,400-acre Chicot State Park in Louisiana. Lake Chicot occupies 2,000 of those acres, and it offers some incredible paddling opportunities among other outdoor activities. The lake is found just 45 minutes south of Alexandria in the rolling hills of Evangeline Parish. The state park conveniently offers both flat bottom boat rentals and canoe rentals that can be rented for an entire day. The boat rentals can be paid for and picked up at the entrance station of the state park. The paddle trail stretches 8 miles from north to south and is marked by easy-to-see yellow signs.
Getting on the water is made easy enough with three boat launches: one on the north landing, one on the south landing, and the less-used east landing boat launch. There are several other places in the state park where you could easily get a boat into the water, but the north landing is recommended. The water here is clear, and as soon as you get in the water you'll see a sign for the water trail that takes you south through a maze of cypress and tupelo gum trees draped in Spanish moss. The sounds of various birds and amphibians can be a delightfully intoxicating auditory experience. It really is like stepping into another world that is quite peaceful.
The wildlife viewing on Lake Chicot is great. Birders would have an excellent time on this water trail with several types of large bird species that frequent the lake. The state park is home to an abundance of reptiles, including alligators. You might even catch some of the mammals found in the state park coming to the lake shore for a drink on hot days. If you’re looking for that good Louisiana swampy experience, take a detour from the water trail and head toward the Louisiana Arboretum, going underneath the bridge that crosses a section of the central eastern portion of the lake. A GPS device is encouraged if you plan to get off the trail.
Chicot State Park has much to offer in addition to paddling, including fishing, hiking, camping, and nature photography. The Louisiana Arboretum found within the state park is definitely worth checking out before you leave the state park.