It would be fair to say that the trails in Louisiana are often overshadowed by the popular attractions on the West Coast and East Coast, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not exploring some of the incredibly scenic trail systems of Louisiana. From the hills of northern Louisiana to the swamps of southern and central Louisiana, the trails found here are diverse and rich in wildlife. Birders and wildlife photographers will be delighted by the ample viewing opportunities so frequently found along the trails. Mountain bikers can challenge themselves along the hills of the Caroline Dormon Trail or enjoy a smoother ride in Bonnet Carré Spillway. Get out there and find yourself completely immersed in the cypress trees and Spanish moss.
Offering up-close and personal views of the wildlife that inhabits the wetlands of southern Louisiana, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve has 2.3 miles of easy trail that all can enjoy. Visitors can often get a glimpse of a wild alligator during the warm season. You can learn more about the flora and fauna in the area thanks to the informative signage found along the pathways.
The 10.5-mile Caroline Dormon Trail stretches through the heart of Kisatchie National Forest. Open to hiking, backpacking, biking, and horseback riding, the Caroline Dormon Trail can be experienced in many different ways. The trail will take you through a rare longleaf pine forest and over some of the steeper hills found in Louisiana.
One of the longest stretches of single trail in the state, the 19-mile Chicot State Park Hiking Trail encircles Lake Chicot. The route follows the shores of the swampy lake and leads over the occasional steep hill, and it is open to hiking, backpacking, and biking. Backpackers can stay at one of the six established primitive campsites found along the trail.
Nestled in Chicot State Park, the Louisiana State Arboretum Preservation Area has 4.3 miles of trails surrounding the visitor center. These trails collectively give you a true Louisiana nature experience. If you visit, be sure to hike the short Bald Cypress Trail that takes you to an especially swampy portion of Chicot Lake.
Found just north of New Orleans, Tammany Trace is a hiking and bicycling path that runs around 31 miles through St. Tammany Parish. The trail was once a railroad turned into a paved pathway for the enjoyment of cyclists and runners alike. Bicycle rentals, bathroom facilities, and water fountains can be found along the trail. There are six different trailheads, making it easy to plan a trip that’s just the right length for you.
The Bonnet Carré Spillway Trail was originally intended for bikes, but it makes for a nice hiking path as well. The area is designed to alleviate flooding of the Mississippi River, but it has been turned into a technical bike course for those who are looking for a little more adventure. Built with obstacles, plank berms, and jumps, the Bonnet Carré Spillway keeps things interesting for bicyclists.
At about 2 miles, the Riverwalk Trail in Sam Houston Jones State Park passes through swamps and forests. Much like the rest of the hiking trails in Louisiana, this is a great place to spot wildlife. It’s not uncommon to see turtles, alligators, and herons while hiking along this pathway.