Part of the Cypress Island Preserve, which is owned by the Nature Conservancy, Lake Martin is a wonderful place to view wildlife and enjoy Louisiana’s natural beauty. Approximately 9,500 acres of cypress-and-tupelo swamp and bottomland hardwood forest habitat is protected here. Lake Martin is the preserve’s main feature. A new visitor center and boardwalk afford good public access. The lake is just seven miles from Lafayette, and it supports large numbers of species of nesting water birds, including the great blue heron, great egret, snowy egret, white ibis, roseate spoonbill and many more. The incredible bird population is part of what makes paddling here so memorable. You also have a very good chance of encountering reptiles and amphibians. American alligators of all sizes are at home here – use caution. From Highway 31 between Breaux Bridge and Parks, take a right on Lake Martin Road and follow it to the lake. You can launch easily from the bank, but keep a respectful distance from the birds. For more information see http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/louisiana/preserves/art6856.html or call 337-342-2475.