Lincoln Parish in North Louisiana maintains one of the best urban parks to be found in the South. Surprisingly scenic and varied for its size, Lincoln Parish Park sits among upland pine and mixed hardwood forest in the hills near Ruston. There is a lake for fishing and paddling year round and swimming in the summer. More than 10 miles of trails are perfect for hiking, biking, and nature viewing. Picnic areas, playgrounds, and event facilities give more options for recreation, and a campground lets you enjoy it all multiple days in a row. The park is popular with locals as well as travelers passing through, and it is especially attractive to mountain bikers seeking exciting terrain in this region's normally flat landscape. Entry is only $2, and annual passes are available.
Louisiana is not famous for mountain biking, but this park actually puts it on the map for top destinations in the South. The mileage is not great, nor is the area huge, but builders have done a lot with the terrain. Ten miles of track are tightly coiled among rolling wooded hills. This main loop is of intermediate difficulty, and there are optional expert features here and there. There are a lot of small ups and downs, some switchbacks, some narrow sections, some steeps, and some technical bits. For the most part it is all curvy and fun. Portions of the route may seem bunched up and contrived, and they are, but this is for the sake of packing value into the space. A signed alternate route makes a beginner trail and adds some additional mileage to the park's total. All trails are open to hikers as well as bikers, so use caution and be courteous of other users. A trail that caters more to hikers than bikers is the Tree Trail, which has informative signs and tree species IDs along the way. A section of trail near the lake is paved, and it connects to the Tree Trail as well as the main loop.
A reservoir of a few acres in area provides fishing, swimming, paddling, wildlife habitat, and nice views. Stocked with bass and other species, and with plenty of grassy shoreline and docks, it makes a great day of fishing. There is also a designated swim area and sandy beach with seasonal lifeguards. Canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards have free range of the lake as well. A peninsula jutting into the lake has first-come, first-served picnic tables and grills available for free, and picnic shelters near the playground and swim area are available by reservation and a fee. This is also where the park's main parking lot is located, and the trail loop begins from here.
Sites of various types are available at the campground, ranging from rustic walk-in tent sites to pull-through RV sites with full hookups. The campground overlooks the lake and offers prime fishing spots, and the trail passes close to the campground for easy hiking and riding. Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring. There is a bathhouse with hot water showers as well as a group meeting center available by reservation. Camping fees range from $17 to $25 depending on the type of site. You can inquire about reservations by calling 318.251.5156.