By LouisianaTravel.com Staff

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Diversity defines the Louisiana State Arboretum, a 300-acre nature preserve inside Chicot State Park devoted to maintaining groves of sycamores, maples, beeches, magnolias, hickories, ferns, crane fly orchids and other species. Established in 1961, the Louisiana State Arboretum was the first facility of its kind in the South.

Besides the numerous variety of plant species, wildlife including deer, foxes, skunks and many kinds of birds call the Louisiana State Arboretum home. As a stop along the Mississippi Flyway, you’ll likely see a few unfamiliar feathered friends migrating south or north during your visit.

Boardwalks stretch out over the hillsides of the arboretum, giving visitors a glimpse into the treetops of native trees that fill the landscape. In other portions of the park, such as the Walker Branch Trail that begins at the nature center, hikers are guided along hills and valleys that showcase the park’s biodiversity. The Backbone Ridge Trail curves up steep inclines that offer hikers spectacular views overlooking Chicot Lake, and the Baldcypress Trail leads directly to the lake itself. Whether you’re a trained botanist or casual day hiker, the Louisiana State Arboretum offers a wealth of education and adventure.

Because the Louisiana State Arboretum is in the Prairie Cajun Country heartland, there are plenty of activities to find outside the park. Visit the historical towns of Washington and Ville Platte, and don’t miss the Cajun food found at restaurants and shops in Opelousas. In Eunice, the Liberty Theatre hosts live Cajun-Zydeco music every Saturday night, and, also in Eunice, you’ll find the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center, a Cajun-centric museum that is part of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve.

Entrance fee: Free

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