15 Top Spots for Hiking in Louisiana - Travel for Your Life

15 Top Spots for hiking in Louisiana

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Perhaps one of America’s most underrated hiking destinations, Louisiana has an incredibly diverse environment. The state’s ecosystem includes swamplands, coastal lowlands, wetlands, beaches, cypress forests, and even some hills.

Louisiana hiking trails often put you face-to-face with creatures such as alligators, snakes, and wild boar. Much of Louisiana’s nature trails remain untamed, and you should always expect wildlife sightings on any expedition. To learn more about the alligators in Louisiana and how to spot them in the wild read my guide for the best ways to see the Louisiana alligators. 

Discovering Louisiana’s natural beauty on foot gives you many opportunities to connect with Mother Nature like never before. From its wild nature to flavorful cuisine, Louisiana ranks among America’s most unique states to visit. This post delves into the best hiking trails of Louisiana but only scratches the surface of what it has to offer. Whether you’re itching to attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans or learn about Cajun culture in Lafayette, get ready to learn all about Louisiana.

To get us started, let’s dive into the best places to hike in the beautiful state of Louisiana.


15 Top spots for hiking in Louisiana

 Lake Chicot Loop Trail | Caroline Dormon Trail | Wild Azalea Trail | Couturie Forest | Tunica Hills C Trail | Backbone Trail | Tammany Trace Trail | Sam Houston Jones State Park Trail | Tickfaw State Park River Loop | Cane Bayou Track | Mississippi River Trail | Bayou Sauvage Ridge Trail | Grand Isle Beach | Lincoln Parish Park Mountain Bike Trail | Monkey Trail |


For a quick guide on the best hiking areas in Louisiana, use these destinations to find all sorts of trekking adventures.

Kisatchie National Forest – The only national forest in Louisiana that features rolling piney hills and lots of primitive campgrounds.

Tunica Hills WMA – Frequent wildlife sightings and serene waterfalls near the banks of the Mississippi River.

Grand Isle State Park – The state’s only inhabited barrier island with profound coastal beauty.

Chicot State Park – Wildlife reserve that includes picnic areas, campgrounds, and boat launch to go fishing.

Tickfaw State Park – Beloved state park that provides lots of outdoor recreation near New Orleans and Baton Rouge.


1. Lake Chicot Loop Trail

Length: 17.3 miles
Route Type: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate

Chicot State Park gives hikers the chance to explore the swamplands of Lake Chicot and spot tons of Louisiana wildlife. At nearly 18 miles, the loop route shows off gators, ducks, otters, snakes, deer, armadillos, pigs, and other native species. The trail meanders around the lake, and you’ll often see boaters and anglers on the water.

Primitive campsites provide shelter for backpackers hoping to escape the urban sprawl, and sunsets on the lake are surreal to witness. Bring waterproof boots in case of rainfall that makes the path muddy in tougher areas to maintain. You’ll encounter a few sturdy climbs for a workout, and the marshy wetlands along the trail offer some of the best hiking in Louisiana.



2. Caroline Dormon Trail

Length: 10.1 miles
Route Type: Point to Point
Difficulty: Moderate

The Caroline Dormon Trail meanders through the trickling creeks, marshlands, and swampy areas of Kisatchie National Forest. You’ll encounter numerous waterways and hike to tumbling waterfalls situated in central Louisiana. Bikers and horseback riders also use the trail, and there’s modest elevation gain for experienced hikers.

Flies and mosquitos are sometimes relentless, and bug spray is recommended on this forest expedition. If you wish to spend the evening in the woods, the Kisatchie Bayou Recreation Complex has stunning views of the rocky bayou. There’s plenty of wildlife sightings, and you’ll wander through gorgeous landscapes, including wetlands and pine forests.



3. Wild Azalea Trail

Length: 23.9 miles
Route Type: Point to Point
Difficulty: Moderate

Located inside Kisatchie National Forest, the Wild Azalea Trail is one of the rare Louisiana trails to practice elevation gains. The lengthy path climbs over 1,700 feet and has campsites for Louisiana backpacking. As the longest hiking trail in Louisiana, it’s the ideal outing for those looking to spend 2-3 days wandering in cypress and pine forests.

The trail offers beautiful spots for bird-watching and fishing to give you more time to unwind in nature. You won’t have difficulty finding shade beneath the lush trees, and the path meanders past tranquil streams. Blooming azaleas dot the landscape around the trail and makes it one of the best hikes in Louisiana.


4. Couturie Forest

Length: 1.1 miles
Route Type: Loop
Difficulty: Easy

For a nature trip in the heart of New Orleans, Couturie Forest is 60 acres of wildlife sightings, beautiful trees, and peaceful waterways. Ditch the city bustle without leaving New Orleans and spend a few hours of bird watching. The trail provides lots of shade to relax inside the city forest and enjoy a picnic.

Bring hiking boots in case the trail gets muddy after a heavy rain and bug spray to deter mosquitos. The trail network has a slight hill that leads to a beautiful lookout over a lake.


5. Tunica Hills C Trail

Length: 3.6 miles
Route Type: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate

The Tunica Hills State Wildlife Management Area rests off the banks of the Mississippi River and offers exceptional nature trip opportunities. Just south of the Louisiana-Mississippi border, the hiking trail often leads to encounters with chipmunks, black bears, wild boar, and migratory birds. Although Louisiana isn’t known for mountains, the Tunica Hills presents some steep hills for a moderate climb.

Waterproof boots and bug spray are essential for this trail, and long pants/sleeves protect against pesky mosquitos and horseflies. Children aren’t recommended to tag along due to the quicksand that lies near the path. The terrain variety makes this an incredibly fun trek, but one that’s more for skilled hikers.


6. Backbone Trail

Length: 14.7 miles
Route Type: Out & Back
Difficulty: Easy

The Backbone Trail meanders through the woodlands and swamplands of Kisatchie National Forest. An enjoyable trail for any skill level, the path has a few short climbs to break a sweat. You’ll encounter a few stream crossings and wander deep into the forest. The latter half of the trail provides gorgeous outlooks and shade for respite from the beaming sun.

Primitive campsites within the forest offer adequate shelter to turn your day hike into a weekend trip. Don’t forget sturdy hiking boots since several portions of the trail can become muddy after a heavy rain shower.



7. Tammany Trace Trail

Length: 27.2 miles
Route Type: Point to Point
Difficulty: Easy

Situated near Covington, Tammany Trace Trail is a fantastic hiking expedition for novice trekkers. Although the path spans over 27 miles, it’s flat terrain and proximity to Lake Pontchartrain presents enjoyable hiking near New Orleans. Locals refer to the trail as “The Trace,” and it showcases sections of the St. Tammany Parish countryside.

Since the pathway has a paved surface, it accommodates families who have kids in strollers or others using a wheelchair. You’ll often find residents walking, jogging, cycling, and skating the trail along the lakefront. As Louisiana’s top rail-trail, Tammany Trace is often the most recommended introductory hike before delving into more rural areas on the South Louisiana map.


8. Sam Houston Jones State Park Trail

Length: 7.6 miles
Route Type: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate

The flat, well-maintained route inside Sam Houston Jones State Park takes you along the Calcasieu River and through dense pine forests. There’s lots of wildlife beside the waterways, but the bugs are sometimes relentless in this area. Be cautious of bikers who also use the color-coordinated sections of the loop. The Blue Trail can be tricky for first-timers, but other paths aren’t difficult to navigate.

Parts of the trail follow streams, other sections venture deep into the woods, and you’ll encounter a few switchbacks. Gorgeous wildflowers engulf the landscape during spring, and the leaves change colors upon fall’s arrival.


9. Tickfaw State Park River Loop

Length: 2.2 miles
Route Type: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate

Located just outside of Springfield, Tickfaw State Park gives urbanites in Baton Rouge and New Orleans an enjoyable day trip into the outdoors. Although only around 2 miles long, the river loop is among the most popular places to hike in Louisiana. Coursing along a river, the trail welcomes families looking to spot wild creatures. Don’t be surprised to find native species, like gators, snakes, turtles, spiders, otters, and more.

The trail often gets muddy after rain showers, and proper shoes are required for the portions off the boardwalk. Apply bug spray as needed to cope with the critters that you expect on swampy nature trails in Louisiana.



10. Cane Bayou Track

Length: 3.7 miles
Route Type: Out & Back
Difficulty: Easy

Fontainebleau State Park gives New Orleans residents a scenic, lakefront day trip just across Lake Pontchartrain. Cane Bayou delights anglers and bird watchers looking to explore the marshlands by the lake. Watch out for spiders, snakes, and other critters crawling around the trail. After rainy weather, make sure to wear waterproof hiking boots to keep your feet dry.

The flat terrain makes the path suitable for beginning hikers, and its diverse plant life will delight nature lovers. For an enchanting sunset to end your nature trip, head to Fontainebleau Beach to end the day lounging on the pier or sandy shores.



11. Mississippi River Trail

Length: 25.7 miles
Route Type: Point to Point
Difficulty: Easy

Following the mighty Mississippi River, this paved pathway is among the top hiking spots in New Orleans. The riverfront trail attracts walkers, joggers, and bikers, but the lack of shade makes staying hydrated essential. Some sections present stunning views of the river and create postcard-worthy snapshots at sunset.

Despite being in an urban area, you might see gators, ducks, and turtles frolicking around the trail. The river serves as a trade lifeline, and you’ll likely spot ships and barges cruising by the waterfront.



12. Bayou Sauvage Ridge Trail

Length: 6.8 miles
Route Type: Out & Back
Difficulty: Easy

Just outside of New Orleans, the Bayou Sauvage Nation Wildlife Refuge connects you with nature on the city outskirts. The gravel/boardwalk path wanders the waterways around Lake Pontchartrain and has a surprising amount of wildlife. You might find several gators and a wide range of bird species flying near the path.

The boardwalk courses through the wetlands and leads through beautiful wildflower fields. For nature-loving families, Bayou Sauvage is wonderful for hikers of all ages looking for a scenic day trip.


13. Grand Isle Beach

Length: 13.0 miles
Route Type: Out & Back
Difficulty: Easy

For an easy stroll along the sandy shores of Grand Isle State Park, this barrier-island beach is a coastal paradise. The flat trail welcomes hikers of all skill levels and offers an abundance of wildlife sightings. In particular, anglers and bird watchers will have a fun adventure exploring the diverse nature of Louisiana.

The lowland trail floods on occasion, and you should bring suitable hiking shoes in case of rainy weather. If you have time to spare, take a stroll on the beach or go for a swim to cool off beneath the Louisiana sun.


14. Lincoln Parish Park Mountain Bike Trail

Length: 12.5 miles
Route Type: Loop
Difficulty: Easy

Located near Ruston, Lincoln Parish Park features some of the best hiking in Louisiana that accommodates all skill levels. The twisting and turning route challenges hikers and bikers to switchbacks, uphill climbs, and downhill races. Thanks to the elaborate network of trails in the park, you can alter the journey to your preferred distance.

The park is well-maintained, and campsites let you make a weekend trip hiking in Northern Louisiana. Part of the trail follows a lake and offers a serene atmosphere to relax in nature.


15. Monkey Trail

Length: 6.5 miles
Route Type: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate

You expect to hear the sounds of chimpanzees in Africa, but the Monkey Trail in Eddie D. Jones Park near Keithville transports you to the jungle. The dirt trail surprises hikers with a couple of sharp climbs but has some patches with poor signage. After weaving through pine forests, you eventually reach the Chimp Haven Chimpanzee Sanctuary.

Mountain bikers share the trail, and it’s also possible to bring your pooch on the hike with you. Many parts of the path offer shade to cope with the heat, and the springtime produces blooming wildflowers.


Do you have a hiking spot to add to the list of best hiking places in Louisiana? Let us know by commenting in the comment section below.

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