By the Region: Ten Perfect Places to Paddle Louisiana
Louisiana is about 52,000 square miles and about 15 percent is water—inland lakes and swamps, coastal marshlands, scenic small rivers, canals and bayous (slow moving streams). The best way to experience Louisiana’s waterways and the animals and plants that call them home is by canoe, kayak or paddleboard. Here are some ideal places to paddle your way throughout the state.
Lake Bistineau State Park, situated on the western shore of Lake Bistineau, offers beautiful vistas and outstanding recreational facilities. An 11-mile canoe trail offers lovely views of the hardwood forest, and stands of cypress and tupelo trees. The park has two boat launches and a beach. Canoe and kayak rentals are available.
Bayou Bartholomew’s 365-mile path from the middle of Arkansas through Louisiana is said to be the longest bayou in North America. For an abbreviated experience, try an eight mile path through Morehouse Parish that tours a 1,000-year-old cypress swamp. Keep your eyes peeled for “The Castle”, an impressive hollowed-out cypress tree.
Depending on seasonal water levels, Toro Bayou in Sabine Parish offers easy to moderately difficult whitewater paddling. The fishing is excellent, so pack the rod and reel.
North and South Toledo Bend State Parks, located on either side of the Toledo Bend Reservoir, offer scenic, waterfront views from many vantage points. While the reservoir is nationally recognized as a destination for bass fishing tournaments, visitors can also enjoy other water sports and outdoor recreational activities.
Venture down one of the sites along the Atchafalaya Water Heritage Trail, including Bayou Plaquemine in Iberville Parish. Paddle along the bayou that early Louisiana explorer Iberville wrote about in his journal around the late 1660s.
Tickfaw State Park near Springfield offers paddlers the opportunity to explore cypress and tupelo swamps, bottomland hardwoods and mixed pine and hardwood forests all on display for paddlers on the Tickfaw River.
Greater New Orleans:
Fairview-Riverside State Park in Madisonville, right on the Tchefuncte River, is a great spot for great paddling, boating and fishing. Just two miles away by road and a few minutes by water is the Madisonville public boat launch. Many visitors use the launch for access to the calm waters of the Tchefuncte River or the exhilarating expanse of Lake Pontchartrain.
Get more information on these paddling trails, boating opportunities statewide and paddling outfitters to support your adventure.