September 4, 2018
Central Louisiana: A Nature Lover's Paradise
Posted by: Mae Mayeux
Central Louisiana, also known as the Crossroads region, is a mecca for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Located in the geographic heart of the state, Crossroads boasts some of the most incredible natural beauty and wildlife in the South. From swamplands to prairies, pine forests to pristine lakes, the landscape of Central Louisiana is as diverse as it is beautiful. Visitors come from all across the state and country to experience the region’s unbeatable hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing opportunities. Learn more about the Louisiana Bed & Breakfast Association properties located in Central Louisiana on our blog. Here’s our guide to exploring Central Louisiana, a nature lover’s paradise.
Kisatchie National Forest
The Kisatchie National Forest is the only national forest in all of Louisiana. Kisatchie’s magnificent 604,000-acres are filled with endless opportunities for outdoor adventure. Come here to fish, hunt, kayak, canoe, mountain bike, hike, trail run, horseback ride, camp, or simply view the forest’s abundant flora and fauna. In total, biologists have found 155 species of birds, 48 species of mammals, 56 species of reptiles, and 30 species of amphibians within the park. Keep a look out for the Louisiana black bear and the red-cockaded woodpecker. If you prefer plants and flowers, you’ll also love Kisatchie. The park protects an array of rare plant species, including wild orchids and carnivorous plants such as the pale pitcher plant. During the springtime, the park is also an amazing place to view both native and wild azaleas.
Wild Azalea National Recreation Trail holds the impressive distinction of being the longest hiking trail in the entire state. You can find its endpoints at the Valentine Lake Recreation Area in the Kisatchie National Forest, and the Woodworth Town Hall. At 28 miles in length, we recommend breaking this hike up into multiple days, though experienced hikers can pull it off in one. The trail is usable all year but is best completed from October until May, when the weather is cooler. If you are coming to see the azaleas, aim to do the hike in March or April. The trail can also be biked.
Saline Bayou is a 100-mile long tributary of the wild and scenic Red River. It is the perfect place to relax and soak in the tranquil beauty and abundant wildlife that surrounds you. The bayou is home to wood ducks, woodpeckers, otters, and many other creatures. Fisherman have been known to catch over 20 bass per day in its peaceful waters. This is also an incredible place to canoe or boat. A trip down the scenic Saline Bayou takes you past many different Louisiana habitats, from pine forests to tupelo swamps.
Toledo Bend Reservoir
The magnificent Toledo Bend Reservoir is located on the Texas-Louisiana state line. Many visitors stop at the Toledo Bend Reservoir while journeying down the El Camino Real, also known as the Old San Antonio Road or King’s Highway, a historic roadway stretching between Texas and Louisiana. Toledo Bend Reservoir is known to have some of the country’s best fishing, hunting, and birding. The reservoir is well stocked with largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, and white and striped bass.
Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge
Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge encompasses the 25,000 acres surrounding Catahoula Lake, a national wetland and the largest freshwater lake in Louisiana. The Wildlife Refuge makes an easy and fun day-trip from Alexandria and is a great place to fish, hunt, take photographs, or simply observe the refuge’s fascinating wildlife. Its lakes and bayous are popular spots for both fishing and crawfish harvesting. Home to over 175 species of birds, including shorebirds, waterbirds, and migrating waterfowl, the American Bird Conservancy has named the Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge a “Globally Important Bird Area.”
Chicot State Park
Chicot State Park is located just one hour South of Alexandria near Ville Platte. Within the park, you will find miles of excellent hiking, biking, and bird watching trails, many opening up to breathtaking views of the 2,000-acre Chicot Lake. It is also a popular spot for anglers, boaters, and campers. Fishermen can hope to catch largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, and redear sunfish in the well-stocked lake. In addition, the Louisiana State Arboretum is located within the Chicot State Park. It was the first state-supported arboretum in the United States. Here you’ll find easy-to-moderate walking trails twisting through bottomland hardwood forests, watery cypress-tupelo stands, and beech-magnolia forests. The Arboretum hosts a variety of events, including nature talks, children’s puppet shows, guided birdwatching sessions, and more.
Planning an outdoor adventure to Central Louisiana? Book a stay at one of the Louisiana Bed & Breakfast Association's many wonderful properties located throughout the region.