By Penny Fox
Have you heard the Chinese proverb that says, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step?” Nothing is truer than when beginning your next hiking adventure. Louisiana might not have the mountains that other U.S. states do, but it has a wild and varied terrain that makes for some of the best hiking around. These hikes are not for the faint-hearted and require a little more endurance than a casual stroll. Here are five energizing hikes in Louisiana.
Located near St. Francisville, Louisiana, Tunica Hills is over 6,000 acres of hills, bluffs, and ravines, and is composed of two separate land tracks: The North Tract near the Louisiana Penitentiary and the South Tract off Old Tunica Road. It is also part of the Natchez Trace System of trails used since colonial days. Most of the 3.5-mile Tunica Hills C Trail trail is easy to hike and can be finished in one to three hours, but the full five-mile primitive loop is more challenging because there are no shortcuts and parts of the trail are steep. Dogs are welcome to accompany you on the trail. This is a beautiful and peaceful hike, with butterflies and wildflowers in abundance. There are several waterfalls along the way, and the trail is marked well. Bring drinking water and insect repellent, and check for ticks after you’ve completed the trail. Passes may be required, so check with the closest ranger station or online before you start the hike.
Kisatchie Hills is part of Louisiana’s largest state wilderness area with a total of 8,700 acres, and it is here that hikers will find some of the most challenging trails in the state. Unusual for Louisiana, the terrain includes a steep and rocky landscape, elevated areas, broad, rounded cliffs, and wild residents like black bears, foxes, and otters. There are three main trails in the Kisatchie Hills Wilderness: Backbone, the longest but easiest trail at 7.4 miles, Longleaf Vista, a well-marked trail covering 1.3 miles of scenic views in a deep valley, and High Ridge, an aptly named 1.5-mile spur trail to the Backbone. Dogs are permitted on the trails, but make sure to keep them leashed since you may encounter local wildlife as you hike.
Situated along one of America’s largest man-made reservoirs are over 900 acres of peaceful (and protected) land meant to whisk you away to some of the most beautiful scene’s Mother Nature has to offer. Given that there’s an abundance of water sports, this gets to be a happening area in the warmer months. You will find two trails throughout the park, Trail A being 1.5 miles-long, and Trail B being four miles-long. Nothing will bring people together like a long hike in this beautiful forested area. Reserve a campsite or cabin in the very well maintained campground and thoroughly enjoy everything that this park has to offer!
This bayou in Lacombe, right within the city limits of New Orleans, is what gives Louisiana’s wetlands their magnificent reputation. You won’t be able to put down your camera since there are so many aspects to this historic National Wildlife Refuge’s beauty. Walk through two miles of trails, and become enraptured in the radiant botanical gardens, the banks, and other natural habitats that this vibrant place has to offer.
Also situated in the Kisatchie National Forest, the Kincaid Loop Trail is rated as moderate. Hikers will cut close to and away from the beautiful Kincaid Lake along this trek. Keep in mind that it is also a bike trail, so you’ll be sharing your space. The views of the lake are truly awe-inspiring, making for some excellent photo opportunities. Immerse yourself in the bountiful wildlife on this heart-pumping hike.