By P.N. Reichard
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Biking at Lincoln Parish Park
The trails at Lincoln Parish Park in Ruston are rated among the best by mountain bikers.

As you pass beneath a canopy of trees at a 15 miles-per-hour clip, a cool breeze rushes at you. You churn the pedals as the path weaves first right, then left, then plummets into an exhilarating dip. Faster than a ponderous stroll, but freer than driving, biking makes for ideal Louisiana sightseeing. And no matter how serious a biker you are — or what section of the state you’re in — you’ll find the right bike trail nearby.

Stu Babin of Houma formerly represented Louisiana in the International Mountain Bike Association and has seen many great trails around the world. He says Louisiana’s trails are unique in both style and surroundings. “Louisiana has a lot to offer,” he says. Babin says the first rule for building bike trails is to follow the natural contours of the terrain.

In Louisiana, he says, “We use the natural landscape to our full advantage.” Among the most challenging trails is a 10-mile loop in Lincoln Parish Park, near Ruston. Mountain bikers rate it as one of the top trails in the United States.

Another tough one is outside charming St. Francisville, a short drive upriver from Baton Rouge. It’s commonly referred to as “The Beast” — ’nuff said.

In northwest Louisiana, the Shreveport area boasts the so-called Monkey Trail, which gets high marks from bikers. For distance riders, there’s the Wild Azalea near Alexandria, in Central Louisiana. It covers more than 30 miles in Kisatchie National Forest (which also contains the Kincaid Loop path along a lovely lake).

You’ll find an equally lengthy trail called Tammany Trace — an easy-going, scenic route — in St. Tammany Parish, north of Lake Pontchartrain. Other notable trails can be found in Toledo Bend State Park; in and around Baton Rouge; the Bonnet Carre Spillway upriver from New Orleans; and within New Orleans itself.

For much more information about trails ranging from easy to tough, log onto BikeLouisiana.com and use our search engine to choose the one that’s right for you.