The Louisiana State Arboretum, found inside of Chicot State Park, was founded in 1961 and was the first state-supported arboretum in the country. The arboretum contains over 150 plant species that are native to Louisiana. You’ll find a lot of information about the various types of plant species both inside the visitor center and along the trails surrounding the arboretum. The scenery found along the trails near the arboretum is some of the best scenery found in any of the Louisiana state parks. You can start by taking the Bald Cypress Trail located directly behind the visitor center. This brings you to a truly gorgeous branch of Lake Chicot, where visitors can enjoy the unique landscapes found in this region.
If you’d like to extend your hike after taking some time to enjoy the views of the lake, continue on Bald Cypress Trail along the shoreline until it connects with Walker Branch Trail. Walker Branch Trail continues through the dense forest along sections of the lake. A large portion of the trail is an elevated boardwalk that allows visitors to get a little closer to the wildlife and surrounding nature. You can make this hike somewhat of a loop by continuing on Walker Branch until it intersects with the Wetland Trail, taking the Wetland Trail until it connects back with Walker Branch and retracing your steps back to the visitor center. While the trails are well-marked, you may want to ask for a map of the arboretum when you first enter the state park.
If you just had plans to visit the arboretum, you might as well explore a little more of Chicot State Park if you have the time. There’s a lot to do! There are great padding opportunities on the lake, many more miles of hiking trails, and a fun waterpark for the kids if you visit on a hot day! Campsites at one of the two campgrounds found in the state park can be reserved ahead of time through the park service. The south campground is more conveniently located, so you may want to start there.