Natchitoches to Alexandria
Outside Natchitoches, the route along Highways 494 and 119 roughly follows the meandering Cane River, crossing the river several times as it angles southeasterly through the Cane River National Heritage Area. (Pick up a heritage area map at the Tourist Information Center on Front Street before leaving Natchitoches.) This agricultural region is known for its Creole-style architecture and rich mix of cultural backgrounds, including Native Americans, Europeans and Creoles of French, Spanish, African and American Indian descent.
As you amble along this mostly flat route you will pass a half-dozen historic plantation homes and museums, including Oaklawn, Cherokee, Beau Fort, Oakland and Melrose plantations, any of which is worth a stop. Melrose was established by descendants of Marie Therese Coincoin, a former slave who became a wealthy landowner and businesswoman. From Cloutierville onward, you’ll ride about 30 miles on Highway 1, which parallels Interstate 49 and passes through several small towns. If you continue on through Alexandria, use caution in the city traffic.
Start: Natchitoches Tourist Information Office at 781 Front Street
Natchitoches to Melrose
Distance: 16.9 Miles
0.0 Tourist Information Office on Front Street. Head South on Front Street through the Historic District.
0.6 Left on Pine Street (at traffic light). Cross the Cane River. Continue out of town on Highway 494 West. (busy 4-lane road).
7.3 Follow road over bridge to west bank of the Cane River.
8.4 Cherokee Plantation. The house dates from the 1830's and is named for the Cherokee roses in the front yard.
9.0 Straight ahead on Hwy. 119 South and Hwy. 494 West.
10.8 Beau Fort Plantation. Built about 1790, Beau Fort represents the finest in original Creole architecture. Open for tours from 1pm to 4pm. Bed & Breakfast available.
11.5 Oakland Plantation National Historic Park. This is the most complete Creole plantation in the South, with 17 of its original outbuildings still remaining.
11.6 Left on Hwy. 119. Cross Cane River to East bank.
11.6 Take an immediate right on Hwy. 119.
16.9 Intersection of Hwy. 119 and Hwy. 493. Melrose is on your left at this intersection. Follow sign to entrance of Melrose.
Note: To visit Melrose, go left on Hwy. 119 South. Melrose is a now-legendary plantation that dates back to 1796. It was established by decendants of Marie Therese Coincoin, a former slave who became a wealthy landowner and businesswoman. In later years, under the ownership of Cammie Henry, it became a mecca for artists, writers and historians. Clementine Hunter, regarded as the South's premier folk artist, spent much of her life at Melrose. Open daily for tours.
Melrose to Alexandria
Distance: 49.8 Miles
Start: Melrose Plantation. Return to the intersection of Hwy. 119 and Hwy. 493
0.0 Intersection of Hwy. 119 and Hwy. 493. Take Hwy. 493 West.
0.4 Cross Cane River.
0.4 Left on Hwy. 484 East.
0.6 St. Augustine Catholic Church. This church congregation was established around 1803 by Augustine Metoyer--the Grandpere to whom many Cane River descendants trace their ancestry---and his brother, Louis. The unique cemetery behind the church contains French-inscribed wrought-iron crosses and tombs built like small houses. Augustine Metoyer, Cane River folk artist Clementine Hunter and author Francois Mignon are among those buried here.
4.8 Right on Hwy. 119 South.
6.4 Magnolia Plantation (National Historic Landmark). The two and one-half story plantation house is one of the largest in the area, with twenty-seven rooms, including a Catholic Chapel in which Mass is still celebrated. Oakland and Magnolia plantations make up the Cane River Creole National Historical Park. Open daily.
7.7 Left on Hwy. 1 South.
8.8 Bayou Folk Museum and the Kate Chopin House. The house was the home of Kate Chopin, the renowned novelist and author of "The Awakening" and many Creole stories. Chopin shocked the world in 1889 with "The Awakening", a daring story of a woman's quest for self-fulfillment. Open daily.
9.2 Left on Hwy. 495 South. Cross Cane River.
14.3 Left on Hwy. 1 South.
16.6 Little Eva Plantation Pecan House.
Note: Gently rolling terrain starts about 3 miles after Little Eva. Good shoulder on Hwy. 1 and light traffic.
27.8 Gas station and food store
30.7 Boyce (food available)
32.2 Overpass for I 49.
37.8 Alexandria City Limits
40.4 Right on Hwy. 498 West (Air Base Road)
41.4 WATCH FOR THIS TURN. LEFT AT Y. Main road goes right to Air Park. Do not go to the Air Park. There is a Hertz Rent A Car on the left at the turn.
42.3 Elementary School on left.
42.4 Right on Plantation road right after school. EASILY MISSED!
44.2 Left at T and Stop. (No sign but it's Bayou Rapides Road)
45.2 Right on Calvert after bridge. EASILY MISSED!
45.4 Traffic light. Go across 4-Lane road.
45.5 Left on Frontage Road (Coliseum Blvd.)
46.1 MacArthur Drive. Food & lodging all along this road. Note: The route follows Frontage Road along MacArthur Drive through Alexandria until the frontage road ends.
48.0 At Traffic Circle, stay on Frontage Road.
48.3 Cross 4-lane road near church at traffic light.
49.8 Common Point Shopping Center. Continue on Frontage Road to the end.