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Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous

03.26.18

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Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous

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  • Black Bayou Lake.- Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
  • Paddling among leafless cypress and tupelo on Black Bayou Lake.- Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
  • Huge old-growth cypress on Chemin-a-Haut Creek.- Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
  • Paddling among the ancients on Chemin-a-Haut Creek.- Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
  • Alligator catching some early spring sunshine near Bayou Macon.- Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
  • Late day outing on Bayou Macon.- Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
  • Stunning sunset over Lake Bruin. - Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
  • The cypress trees line most of the eastern shore of Lake Bruin. - Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
  • A group of turtles out enjoying the afternoon sun on Lake Chicot.- Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
  • A stand-up paddleboarder enjoying the Lake Chicot water trail. - Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
  • Tree density ranges from wide open to very tight in Henderson Swamp.- Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
  • Paddleboard fun in Henderson Swamp.- Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
  • Wildlife is abundant along Lake Martin, including these red-eared sliders sunning themselves.- Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
  • Paddling out on Lake Martin's calm surface.- Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
  • Admiring spring green on the cypress limbs in Sam Houston Jones State Park.- Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
  • American alligator in Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge.- Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
  • Palmettos and Spanish moss overhanging the water near Franklin Canal.- Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
  • Late afternoon light on Cane Bayou.- Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
  • Heading out onto Lake Pontchartrain from Cane Bayou.- Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
  • The mouth of Cane Bayou at Lake Pontchartrain.- Paddler's Guide to Louisiana Swamps, Lakes + Bayous
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Thriving nature, vibrant culture, and living history await in Louisiana, and the state's abundant waterways nurture it all. Water is at the heart of Louisiana, and it flows through its veins. Rains and rivers pulse with the seasons and fill the forests with life. Louisiana is where the continent's longest river meets the sea. It has the nation's largest freshwater wetland, countless lakes and reservoirs, and bayous that course like capillaries among its dynamic water bodies.

Paddling is the way to find the essence of Louisiana's natural being. With a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard you can experience it all. See the boundless horizon of a vast lake. Hear the echo of bird songs in a flooded forest. Feel the deep solitude of a backwoods bayou. Taste the sea on a gulf-shore breeze. Feed your soul in Louisiana.

With so many waterways, paddling opportunities in Louisiana are literally endless, and each region offers something unique. Here are some of our favorites across the state:

North

  • Black Bayou Lake Canoe Trail: Cypress-studded lake in a national wildlife refuge near Monroe.
  • Chemin-a-Haut Creek: Deep tannin-red waters below and wide crowns of old-growth cypress trees above.
  • Bayou Macon: Lazy floating alongside wildlife-rich forests and lakes of Poverty Point Reservoir State Park.
  • Lake Bruin Water Trail: Glide over clear water in the shade of cypress and Spanish moss in Lake Bruin State Park.

Central

  • Saline Bayou: A designated Wild and Scenic River, this backwoods bayou in Kisatchie National Forest is perfect for seekers of solitude.
  • Whiskey Chitto Creek: One of the most scenic waterways in the whole state, Whiskey Chitto is lined with white sand beaches and surrounded by dense forest.
  • Lake Chicot Water Trail: Well-marked route through sheltered cypress swamp along the edge of the lake in Chicot State Park.

South

  • Sam Houston Jones State Park: A calm river and still lagoons provide a variety of paddling environments and wildlife viewing near Lake Charles.
  • Henderson Swamp: Merely one corner of the vast Atchafalaya Basin, this dense cypress grove and open lake provide a glimpse of the nation's largest freshwater wetland.
  • Lake Martin: A bird sanctuary and haven for all wildlife in an area popular for swamp tours near Breaux Bridge.
  • Franklin and Bayou Teche Paddle Trails: Canals and bayous rich in flora and fauna that flow through a national wildlife refuge toward the sea from the town of Franklin.
  • Cane Bayou: An idyllic float near Fontainebleau State Park that leads to wide open water on Lake Pontchartrain.
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