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Jesse Weber | 03.16.2018

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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