Fontainebleau State Park occupies a sprawling 2,800 acres on the north shore of Lake Pontchartain on land that was once home to a sugar mill. Today the ruins of the sugar mill are on prominent display to all park visitors in their central location adjacent to the park's visitor center. The park itself has a wide variety of additional features.
Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville, the founder of the town of Mandeville, in which the park sits, constructed a sugar mill here in 1829. It would operate for decades before ending its functional operation in 1852. These brick ruins still stand, and the ruins were a factor in the park's inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.
The park's variety of activities and areas of interest, along with its location about an hour from New Orleans, attract many visitors. Central among its activities are hiking on its 4.8-mile Bayou Cane Trail and its 1.2-mile Sugar Mill Nature Trail, which also leads to the Alligator Marsh wildlife viewing area at a wetlands marsh.
The large day use portion of the park includes expansive grassy fields beneath live oak trees draped in Spanish moss with numerous picnic areas and pavilions. There are playgrounds, a large seasonal water feature playground, a pond, cypress groves on a sandy shore of Lake Pontchartrain, changing rooms, and a pier that stands over the lake.
A large 143-site campground also sits within the park, offering camping options from tent and RV sites to luxury rental cabins. Most park features are within a several-minute walk of the campground. The park also has a large meeting lodge that can be rented out.
The Tammany Trace, a 31-mile rail-to-trail path for cycling or running, crosses the road to the park entrance gate, while the spacious roads within the park itself provide a flat course for cyclists or joggers. Nearly all features of the park, with the exception of the hiking trails, are ADA-friendly.
Park hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Entrance fee is $3 per person, and those 62 and over are free, as are children 3 and under. More information can be found by calling the park at 985.624.4443 or by visiting their website.