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Canoe trips by moonlight are popular in several areas of Louisiana, and this is one of them. Groups often organize nighttime paddle trips through the beautiful Manchac swamp. Located northwest of New Orleans, the Manchac wetlands consist of hundreds of acres of cypress trees and freshwater marshes. The ancient bayou can be accessed by canoe, and is particularly scenic in the moonlight – accented by the glowing red eyes of the alligators! Bayou Manchac was once a heavily used trade route and is considered one of Louisiana’s historic waterways, affording it protection as part of the state’s Scenic River System. The 8,000-acre Manchac Wildlife Management Area lies about 17 miles north-northeast of LaPlace. Entrance to the interior of the area is via various canals. The topography is characterized by flat, low marshland subject to flooding, especially with easterly winds. Major vegetation in the past was originally bald cypress, but nearly all of this has been tagged from the area leaving an open freshwater marsh. A shallow freshwater pond, known as the Prairie, lies near the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline. This is one of the better duck ponds within the Lake Pontchartrain system. Pirogues and mudboats are the major means of transportation in the prairie. Waterfowl and wildlife abound here. Both bald eagles and ospreys have been sighted on the area. Recreation includes fishing and birdwatching. The management area’s headquarters lies just off Highway 55 at Manchac. For more information see Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries.