10 Best Hiking Trails in Louisiana 2023 – Explore the Natural Beauty

Louisiana, known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and sultry bayous, is also a haven for nature enthusiasts. Beyond the lively streets of New Orleans and the renowned Mardi Gras parades, the state offers a range of hiking paths that immerse visitors in its unique ecosystems. Let’s talk about the top 10 hiking trails in Louisiana that every nature lover should explore.

1. Barataria Preserve Trails

Located just outside New Orleans, the Barataria Preserve Trails offer a glimpse into the marshes and bayous of Louisiana.

Wetlands Trail

This 0.5-mile boardwalk loop lets you witness the beauty of wetlands and is perfect for bird watching.

  • Bird species: Egrets, herons, and osprey are frequent visitors.
  • Plant life: You’ll see cypress trees, palmettos, and ferns.

The ease of this path makes it ideal for families and beginners. Plus, the interpretative signs along the way help you understand the ecosystem better.

Bayou Coquille Trail

A slightly longer path, Bayou Coquille, showcases the rich aquatic life of the region.

  • Wildlife sightings: Alligators, turtles, and various fish species.
  • Scenery: The path winds through dense forests and over bayous.

While trekking, one gets the impression of being deep in the heart of untouched nature despite being near the city.

2. Wild Azalea Trail

Wild Azalea Trail is Louisiana’s longest hiking path, located near Alexandria.

Eastern Segment

The eastern part of the path is characterized by its pine-covered hills and serene waterways.

  • Trail length: About 14 miles.
  • Landmarks: You’ll pass the picturesque Valentine Lake and the clear streams of Lamotte Creek.

This segment is more tranquil and less frequented, offering a peaceful hiking experience.

Western Segment

This segment promises a blend of terrains, from hardwood forests to grassy clearings.

  • Wildflowers: As the path’s name suggests, you can see azaleas, especially in the spring.
  • Terrain: Expect some undulating paths, making it moderately challenging.

With camping spots en route, this section is perfect for those seeking an overnight hiking adventure.

3. Tammany Trace

The Tammany Trace is a rail-to-trail conversion, making it unique in its design.

Mandeville to Abita Springs

This stretch covers urban landscapes, giving hikers a blend of nature and civilization.

Historical landmarks and local eateries pepper this route, providing both a cultural and gastronomic experience.

Abita Springs to Covington

The transition from urban to woodland settings in this beautiful segment.

Bike rentals are available, making this section versatile for both hikers and cyclists.

4. Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Situated in Monroe, this refuge is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts.

Wildlife Loop

This loop surrounds the Black Bayou Lake, offering panoramic water views.

  • Birdwatching: Spot eagles, owls, and other migratory birds.
  • Facilities: The observatory tower is a highlight, providing elevated views.

Besides the fauna, the sunset over the lake is a sight you wouldn’t want to miss.

Forest Trail

Venture deep into the hardwood forest on this path.

  • Flora: Massive oak and pine trees dominate the landscape.
  • Wildlife sightings: Look out for raccoons, squirrels, and even the occasional bobcat.

The trail is well-marked, ensuring you’re always on track while relishing the serenity.

5. Chicot State Park Trails

Chicot State Park, located in Ville Platte, boasts extensive paths around Chicot Lake.

North Loop

The northern side of the lake offers elevated viewpoints and dense woodlands.

  • Trail length: Roughly 11 miles.
  • Camping: Several backcountry campsites are available.

Fishing enthusiasts will love the numerous fishing piers scattered along the route.

South Loop

This part of the trail provides more diverse terrains, from marshy grounds to forested areas.

Both loops are interconnected, allowing hikers to customize their journey.

6. Kisatchie Hills Wilderness

The Kisatchie Hills Wilderness in the Kisatchie National Forest offers some of the state’s most diverse terrains.

Backbone Trail

One of the most popular paths, the Backbone, offers a genuine wilderness experience.

  • Trail length: Approximately 7 miles.
  • Features: Steep ridges, deep valleys, and rocky outcrops.

The picturesque landscapes make it a favorite for photographers, especially during the golden hour.

Sandstone Multi-Use Trail

As the name suggests, this path is open for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

  • Terrain: Sandy soils, pine forests, and a few challenging climbs.
  • Flora: Blooming wildflowers in spring, particularly the dogwoods.

While multi-use trails require extra awareness of other path users, the Sandstone promises an adventure irrespective of your mode of travel.

7. Tunica Hills Wildlife Management Area

Tunica Hills stands out due to its rare hilly terrain in Louisiana.

Clark Creek Trail

Famed for its waterfalls, this path is a must-visit after the rains.

  • Features: Multiple cascades, ranging from small trickles to more prominent falls.
  • Wildlife: A plethora of butterflies grace the path.

While the trail can get slippery, the sight of cascading water in Louisiana’s wilderness is well worth the effort.

Primitive Trail

Offering a more rugged experience, this path is for those seeking a challenge.

  • Terrain: Steep inclines, creek crossings, and rocky paths.
  • Flora: Dense hardwood forests envelop the path.

Though more demanding, the feeling of accomplishment after conquering this trail is unparalleled.

8. Bogue Chitto State Park

Bogue Chitto State Park is a recreational gem, with the Bogue Chitto River as its centerpiece.

Gorge Run Trail

Follow the river’s path and explore the breathtaking water gorges on this trail.

  • Features: Steep banks, sandy shores, and flowing waters.
  • Recreation: Tubing and canoeing opportunities are abundant.

It is a perfect trail for those looking to combine hiking with some water fun!

Pine Hardwood Trail

Dive deep into the forests with this path, providing a more tranquil experience.

  • Flora: Towering pines and hardwoods shade the path.
  • Wildlife sightings: Foxes, coyotes, and numerous bird species.

The serenity and the whisper of the winds through the trees make this trail a meditative experience.

9. Palmetto Island State Park

Located near Abbeville, Palmetto Island State Park is a testament to Louisiana’s marshy beauty.

Marshland Trail

Experience the quintessential Louisiana swamps on this path.

  • Wildlife: Alligators, herons, and water snakes are common.
  • Features: Boardwalks over marshes and picturesque waterways.

While the marshes are a sight to behold, always remain cautious and respect the wildlife.

Forest Loop Trail

Transition from marshes to dense forests with this loop.

  • Flora: Palmettos, as the park’s name suggests, dominate the scenery.
  • Soundscape: The crooning of frogs and crickets is the forest’s melody.

While relatively shorter, this path offers an immersive nature experience.

10. Cane Bayou Track

Cane Bayou bridges the gap between freshwater marshes and Lake Pontchartrain.

Marsh Overlook Trail

This path offers splendid views of the surrounding wetlands.

  • Wildlife: Expect sightings of otters, marsh rabbits, and various bird species.
  • Terrain: Boardwalks and dirt paths make up the trail.

Perfect for sunrise or sunset hikes, the changing colors over the wetlands are a visual treat.

Lakefront Trail

End your hike at the shores of Lake Pontchartrain.

  • Scenery: Expansive lake views with a backdrop of cypress trees.
  • Activities: Picnicking and fishing are popular here.

The gentle lapping of the lake’s waves provides a fitting conclusion to your Louisiana hiking adventure.


What is the best time of year to hike in Louisiana?

The ideal time to hike in Louisiana is during the fall and spring months. During these times, the weather is more temperate, and the trails are less muddy than in the rainy season. Additionally, spring offers the bonus of blooming wildflowers on many trails.

Are there any hiking groups or clubs in Louisiana that organize group hikes?

Yes, there are several hiking and outdoor clubs in Louisiana that organize group hikes, trail maintenance events, and other outdoor activities. Joining these groups can be a great way to meet fellow enthusiasts and explore trails in a group setting.

How should hikers prepare for the unique challenges of Louisiana’s terrain and climate?

Louisiana’s humid climate and marshy terrain pose specific challenges. Hikers should wear lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing, sturdy waterproof boots, and carry insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes. It’s also essential to stay hydrated, so always carry enough water, especially during hotter months.

Are pets allowed on these hiking trails?

Policies regarding pets vary from trail to trail. In general, many state parks and national wildlife refuges allow pets on leashes. However, it’s always best to check specific path regulations before heading out with your furry friend.

How are the trails maintained, and can I volunteer?

Many hiking paths in Louisiana are maintained by state park staff, national forest teams, or local volunteer groups. Those interested in volunteering can often join path maintenance events organized by these entities or local hiking clubs. It’s a great way to give back to the community and ensure the trails remain accessible for everyone.

Besides hiking, what other outdoor activities can be enjoyed on or near these trails?

Many of Louisiana’s trails are located in areas that offer a plethora of other recreational activities. Depending on the trail, visitors can engage in birdwatching, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and even camping. Checking the amenities of specific trails or nearby state parks can provide a broader overview of available activities.

Final Words

Louisiana’s hiking trails offer more than just a walk in the woods. They provide a journey through diverse ecosystems, a lesson in the state’s natural history, and an opportunity to reconnect with nature.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual walker, the Pelican State has something in store for everyone. So, lace up those hiking boots, pack your essentials, and embark on a Louisiana trail adventure like no other.