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Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana

02.09.18

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Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana

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  • Moonrise over the visitor center as seen from one of the primitive campsites at South Toledo Bend State Park Campground. - Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • One of the primitive tent sites with a great view of the reservoir at South Toledo Bend State Park Campground. - Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • Caroline Dormon Trail in Kisatchie National Forest makes for good backpacking.- Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • A creek crossing near the southwest trailhead of Caroline Dormon Trail. - Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • Some campsites at the Chicot State Park Campground come equipped with a deck overlooking the forest. - Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • The north campground at Chico State Park Campground is a little more RV-friendly and easy to navigate. - Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • A hiker stops to look downstream along the Chicot State Park Hiking Trail.- Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • A sign signals a trail intersection to get to the backcountry campsites at Chicot State Park. - Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • Lake Chicot Cypress Trees. - Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • Spanish moss adorns the trees along Lake Chicot Water Trail.- Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • Enjoying the setting sun from Lake Bruin Water Trail.- Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • Stunning sunset over Lake Bruin. - Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • Kisatchie Bayou Campground is one of the more remote and peaceful campgrounds in Louisiana. - Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • A group of turtles out enjoying the afternoon sun along the Lake Chicot Water Trail. - Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • A stand-up paddleboarder enjoying the Lake Chicot Water Trail. - Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • The scenery found on Lake Chicot is truly special.- Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • Bright yellow signs clearly guide paddlers up and down the Lake Chicot Water Trail. - Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • Beautiful cypress swamps along the Bald Cypress Trail at the state arboretum. - Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • Vines cling to the trees out above Lake Chicot near the arboretum. - Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • One of the many boardwalks in the arboretum trail system. - Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • Visit Catahoula in the winter for the best chance at birdwatching! - Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • Small ferns growing on the branches of Live Oak trees at Chicot State Park.- Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • Who wouldn't want to stay at this cabin at Chicot State Park?- Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • Gorgeous sunset over Lake Bruin State Park.- Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
  • Gorgeous sunset over Lake Bruin State Park.- Adventurer’s Guide to Central Louisiana
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Contributor

Some of Louisiana's biggest outdoor attractions are found in Central Louisiana. Both Kisatchie National Forest and Chicot State Park are within a 50-mile radius of Alexandria, the proverbial center of Louisiana. Expanding that same radius to 100 miles will also include South Toledo Bend State Park and Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge, both of which are excellent fishing destinations.

Paddling

You could easily spend a three-day weekend enjoying all of the activities at Chicot State Park, which is located between Alexandria and Lafayette. Lake Chicot, the main attraction of the park, is an excellent place for paddlers to get out and enjoy some time on the water. The forested lake keeps the winds minimal and slows down motorized boats, keeping them from creating large wakes. Hop on the Lake Chicot Water Trail for 8 miles of iconic Louisiana cypress tree habitats. One of our other top choices for paddling in Central Louisiana would be Lake Bruin State Park, which is home to Lake Bruin Water Trail. Here you can weave your way through the cypress trees that line the shores of Lake Bruin.

Hiking

Nestled within Chicot State Park is the Louisiana State Arboretum, which hosts several scenic hiking trails and a very informative visitor center. If you’re looking for a longer trek than what’s offered at the state arboretum, you only need to drive less than a mile to access the Chicot State Park Trail, which is 19 miles long. Those who like some steep hills on their hikes should check out Tunica Hills Wildlife Management Area Trails located in St. Francisville.

Backpacking

Looking to do some backpacking in Louisiana? The Caroline Dormon Trail in Kisatchie might be your answer. The trail stretches 10.5 miles through the longleaf pine forest that largely makes up the national forest. Connect the Caroline Dormon Trail with the nearby Backbone Trail and/or Sandstone Trail to make your backpacking adventure a multi-day experience. Alternatively, you could do the 19-mile Chicot State Park Trail loop that wraps around Lake Chicot. This 19-mile loop has six primitive campsites that all sit at the water’s edge.

Camping

One of the best state parks for camping in Louisiana is the South Toledo Bend State Park Campground. Whether you’re RV camping or tent camping, this state park is covered with beautiful forests that grow all the way to the edges of the bluffs that overlook Toledo Bend Reservoir. Chicot State Park Campground also has some scenic camping with two campgrounds as well as backcountry primitive campsites for backpackers. Primitive campers who like camping in remote locations might consider camping at Kisatchie Bayou Campground in Kisatchie National Forest. The remote nature of Kisatchie Bayou makes for some great stargazing.

Fishing

Toledo Bend reservoir in South Toledo Bend State Park is also one of the best places to fish for bass in the country! The reservoir is a nationally-recognized destination for bass fishing tournaments. Be sure to stop by the gorgeous visitor center while visiting South Toledo Bend State Park. Both excellent fishing and bird watching can be experienced at Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge, which is about an hour and half northeast of Alexandria. Central Louisiana has a lot to offer for outdoor enthusiasts!

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21 Adventures Explored
21 Adventures Published

Published in collaboration with Louisiana Travel

With year-round hunting, fishing, and countless other opportunities for outdoor recreation, it is easy to see why Louisiana's nickname is "Sportsman's Paradise.” Sure, that’s a lot to live up to. But with thousands of hiking and biking trails, beautiful State Parks, and one of the largest game preserves in the United States, Louisiana is the ultimate playground for all outdoorsmen. Our vast expanse of coastal wetlands and countless birding trails make our state a habitat for many rare and endangered species and a natural paradise for bird watchers as well. Come step into the wild outdoors of Louisiana.

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