Louisiana is home to some of the best hiking trails in the United States. But narrowing it down to the best ones to tackle is never easy, so we have compiled the 10 best hiking trails in Louisiana with a variety of lengths and difficulty ratings to make life easier for you.
The 10 best hiking trails in Louisiana are:
- Lake Chicot Loop Trail
- Caroline Dormon Trail
- Couturie Forest
- Tunica Hills C Trail
- Sam Houston Jones State Park Trail
- Tickfaw State Park River Loop
- Cane Bayou Track
- Bayou Sauvage Ridge Trail
- Grand Isle Beach
- Backbone Trail
There really is something for everyone in this list, whether you are a veteran hiker or just starting out. Each hike provides an opportunity to experience the beautiful nature Louisiana has to offer. The list below compiles 10 of the best hikes in the state so you can find one that’s right for you.
The 13 Best Hiking Trails In Louisiana
1. Lake Chicot Loop Trail
Length: 17.3 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation gain: 744 ft
The Lake Chicot Loop Trail has a moderate difficulty level, primarily due to its length. The trail winds for 17.3 miles around Lake Chicot and is the longest hike on this list. Expect to encounter plenty of the wildlife and beautiful scenery Louisiana has to offer.
This trail provides you with the opportunity to really explore the Lake Chicot area. From a wildlife perspective, you will have the opportunity to see snakes, gators, otters, ducks, pigs, and a number of other animal species native to the area. Remember – Always use caution when you encounter a wild animal.
While the trail is relatively good when it comes to underfoot conditions, it’s tough for such a long trail to be constantly maintained to a high standard. Also, if it has been raining, expect water and quite a lot of mud to have gathered, so you should wear the correct footwear.
There will be several sections across the 17.3 miles where you encounter a relatively steep incline. However, any hiker with some experience should not have any issues when it comes to completing this hike. Make sure to take breaks if you need to so you can keep your strength and stamina up.
Be aware that there are marshy areas throughout the loop, and they too can be quite testing for some hikers. Waterproof clothing could prove beneficial. You should also check the recent weather history to see if there has been significant rainfall and plan accordingly.
The trail itself is located close to Ville Platte and there will be more than enough parking for anybody wishing to go into the park and check out the loop. The trail itself is open throughout the year, but wet seasons can make hiking more difficult than normal.
Due to the length of the hike, it’s certainly not suitable for people with little or no hiking experience. Also, children may struggle as well, so view this as being more for the experienced hiker with the stamina to complete such a lengthy hike. Make sure you and any hiking partners are up for the hike before committing to the trail.
2. Caroline Dorman Trail
Length: 10.1 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation gain: 528 ft
The Carolina Dorman Trail is a point-to-point trail that will take you through different parts of the Kisatchie Forest. If you are looking for a hike with stunning scenery on a range of different terrains, then this could be the perfect one for you. This trail is lightly trafficked, so you can find some secluded areas to enjoy nature.
The trail covers 10.1 miles in total length, and it’s classed as being of a moderate difficulty, partly due to the length of the hike. You will quickly realize that this trail meanders through nature, covering swamps, creeks, and marshlands, so be prepared to get your feet wet at times.
Because of the wet nature of this trail, you should be aware that flies and mosquitos can be a big a problem, especially in the summer months. Bug spray is essential at these times, so remember to reapply every hour so you can concentrate on the scenery around you rather than any pesky insects!
This trail is popular with bikers because there is little in the way of elevation change, at least when it comes to really steep sections. This is also good news for hikers, since the heat and humidity can be pretty tough in the summer.
The trail is open throughout the year, but the conditions can vary a great deal depending on the season. Be aware that certain parts of the trail can be tougher after heavy rain, so you may wish to check ahead to learn more about the conditions before you venture out.
For parking, there is ample parking space at the trailhead where you can park cars, trucks, motorcycles, and even horse trailers. You will also find facilities there by the parking lot, such as information kiosks and bathrooms, which will certainly be a welcome relief to all hikers!
Due to the length and the sometimes-tough underfoot conditions, this is not the best trail for people just starting out with hiking. It’s just too long and arduous due to the often energy sapping conditions. Setting that concern aside, if you have the stamina, this is one Louisiana trail you may want to check out!
3. Couturie Forest
Length: 1.1 miles | Difficulty: Easy | Elevation gain: 10 ft
The Couturie Forest trail is an easy loop that could be the perfect introduction to hiking in Louisiana. It may be short, but it still offers a whole lot to experience, and that is one great reason to get out there and see what this trail is all about.
The trail measures some 1.1 miles, so it really is a short loop. Located in the heart of New Orleans, Couturie Forest has over 60 acres to explore. The trail gives you a welcome break from the sun as there is ample shade throughout the hike. You can even have a picnic when your hike is over.
Despite its location in the middle of the city, you will encounter plenty of wildlife. Birds are the main attraction on this hike, and there are so many different varieties and species that you can spend hours walking without getting bored. You’re sure to encounter pelicans, herons, egrets, and many more species.
While the trail is usually easygoing, the conditions can change after heavy rainfall. In this case, you will need good hiking boots. Also, take bug spray, as they can get quite annoying from time to time. Again, check the recent weather history to determine if mud and insects will be an issue.
This trail is very easy to access thanks to its urban location. There is ample parking and good facilities nearby. In order to start at the trailhead, park in the gravel at or near the bridge, where you can kick off your nature viewing by looking for turtles in the lagoon.
The Couterie Forest trail is open throughout the year and, because the park is in the heart of the city, you should expect it to be relatively busy. However, the trail is relatively well maintained throughout its course, and you should have no real difficulty in completing the hike in a short period of time.
4. Tunica Hills C Trail
Length: 3.6 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation gain: 344 ft
If you are looking for a trail with a bit of an incline involved, then the Tunica Hills C Trail is the perfect answer. However, don’t expect it to be some sort of mountaineering expedition. With an elevation change of 344 feet, we’re talking about something a bit more subtle than that!
This is a loop trail, and it covers 3.6 miles in total. Located in the Tunica Hills State Wildlife Management Area, the trail sits right next to the Mississippi River. The trail does indeed have a number of inclines, but the main reason to venture onto this trail is to check out some of the wildlife, along with the amazing scenery on the Louisiana/Mississippi border.
Keep an eye out for a variety of bird species. There’s always the chance of also encountering bears, boars, and chipmunks, too. This is one of those hikes where you never know what is around the corner, so proceed with caution in case you encounter one of these wild creatures.
A word of warning: Quicksand is an issue near the path in several areas, so you need to ensure you stick to the correct area. Even when you’re on the trail, it’s best to take some waterproof boots. While most of the path is fine, there will be sections where the underfoot conditions are a bit muddier, so it’s best to be prepared.
Due to issues such as quicksand and the several inclines, this trail is often regarded as only being accessible to more experienced hikers. It is certainly not the place to take children, and those with short stamina should avoid hiking this trail.
There is a large parking lot next to the trailhead, so you should have no issues with finding a spot. At the start of the trailhead, you will find a simple kiosk where you can pick up a map for the trail. It’s then a case of following the path, which is quite well marked out, and you should have no real issues with completing it.
The trail is open throughout the year, but be aware that some sections go through the bayou, so you should check the weather conditions before you venture out, as this can influence just how accessible different sections are at the time. It’s best to avoid the trail after hard rains as mud can become an issue too.
5. Sam Houston Jones State Park Trail
Length: 7.6 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation gain: 164 ft
If you want a trail that is flat and incorporates a lot of views and scenery, then the Sam Houston Jones State Park trail is ideal for you. It is quite lengthy, but with little in the way of elevation, it’s suitable for most people to attempt, including older children.
The trail itself is 7.6 miles long, and it completes a loop all within the Sam Houston Jones State Park. The route is very well maintained and will take you alongside the Calcasieu River, as well as through various sections of forest filled with cypress and tupelo trees.
This trail also provides you with the opportunity to encounter an array of wildlife throughout the loop. Pay close attention to what is going on at the waterways, as that is where most of the wildlife action will be located, which will include gators, birds, otters, and nutria.
Overall, this trail is easy to complete, and it’s clearly marked along the way. While it’s a lengthy walk to complete the entire trail, it’s still suitable for people new to hiking, but only if they know they have the stamina required to go the distance.
The park is open throughout the year and there is a small entrance fee. There is a parking lot close to the trailhead and finding a spot shouldn’t be too hard. Be aware that there are smaller trails intertwined with the main loop, but maps are available in the park to help you along your way.
At different times, the trail may be closed due to natural damage. For that reason, you are advised to check the State Parks website for the latest information. This site will tell you which sections of the trail are closed and when you can expect them to be open again.
When the trail is completely open, it’s suitable for almost everyone. If you are worried about the distance, then merely opt for one of several shorter trails in the area. You will still get to encounter some stunning wildlife and it won’t be quite as tough.
6. Tickfaw State Park River Loop
Length: 2.2 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation gain: 16 ft
The Tickfaw State Park River Loop is located just outside of Springfield and is easily accessible to most hikers. It promises a relatively easy hike that is not too lengthy, but it still gives you the perfect opportunity to experience what nature has to offer.
This is the perfect starting trail for anybody new to hiking. It doesn’t involve too much in the way of elevation, and it’s not too lengthy. This trail is one of the most popular in Louisiana, due to how accessible it is and the easy nature of the hike.
You will come across a lot of wildlife on this trail, including the likes of gators, otters, snakes, and spiders, to name just a few. It’s best to keep your eyes peeled as you never know what you may come across!
The trail itself is well-maintained throughout the year, but you should be aware it can become rather muddy when there has been some rain. That’s why knowing the weather conditions, and perhaps wearing waterproof boots anyway, is the best course of action to take.
Also, there are sections with boardwalks for you to hike on, and this makes a difference. These boardwalks will keep you up out of the mud and provide easy walking opportunities with great underfoot conditions so you can focus on the nature around you.
The trail is accessible throughout the year, but we do need to stress a point about rainfall. It can make certain sections of the loop exceptionally difficult to traverse, so you will absolutely need the correct footwear. Hiking boots are always best, but anything with more grip and protection than regular sneakers will do the trick.
One additional thing to consider is to contact the park if you are concerned about the status of the trail. It has been closed in the past due to damage caused by weather. Checking in advance will let you know if there are any problems to contend with when you plan your trip.
7. Cane Bayou Track
Length: 3.7 miles | Difficulty: Easy | Elevation gain: 40 ft
The Cane Bayou Track is a very easy out-and-back trail to complete that is suitable even for those new to hiking. This scenic hike is perfect for those who want to see some nature and wildlife, and the fact it is all so easily accessible is an added bonus.
The trail itself measures 3.7 miles in length and it’s classed as being an easy trail to complete, as it’s very flat throughout its course. Located in Fontainebleau State Park in New Orleans, it’s a city park that provides you with the opportunity to go on a lakeside hike any day of the week.
On the trail, you will have the opportunity to check out an array of wildlife. Pay close attention for snakes and spiders that you may encounter throughout the trail. The trail is also popular with bird watchers, with ample opportunity to spot a wide variety of species.
For accessibility, this hike must be one of the easiest in the country, not just in Louisiana. Being so close to the city, there are plenty of parking choices. There is a parking fee for getting into the park, but it’s inexpensive and certainly worth the money.
Finding the trailhead is easy since everything is very clearly signposted around the park. You will also struggle to get lost during the hike as the path is well laid outand you will know exactly where you are at all times. It’s a nice, easy hike for people of all ages.
Keep in mind that this is an out-and-back hike, and the underfoot conditions can get tough from time to time. If you are concerned about the state of the trail, then a quick call to the park will help give you some sort of indication as to the appropriate footwear for the conditions.
8. Bayou Sauvage Ridge Trail
Length: 6.8 miles | Difficulty: Easy | Elevation gain: 32 ft
The Bayou Sauvage Ridge Trail is regarded as being a relatively easy trail to complete even though it is quite lengthy. Located just outside New Orleans, this trail is very accessible, which certainly adds to its popularity throughout the entire year.
At 6.8 miles long, this trail is considerably long, which may cause concerns for people with low stamina and perhaps children. This is an out-and-back trail and it’s located in the Bayou Sauvage Nation Wildlife Refuge near the city, so getting to the trail is very easy.
The trail provides you with the opportunity to encounter some wildlife. There may be the odd gator to see, along with a number of birds, before the trail takes you through areas with some amazing wildflowers to check out. Experiencing nature is one of the reasons many people hike, and this trail delivers on that front!
Overall, this trail is certainly a wonderful day trip to undertake. Even though it’s quite lengthy, there are places to stop to take a break and relax. That means it’s even suitable for children, but just be careful through the marshland sections as they can be especially sloppy.
The trail is accessible throughout the year thanks to its convenient location. Parking is available with plenty of spaces, and it’s easy to then get to the trailhead. This trail is well signposted and there’s no reason for you to get lost, so you can hike at your leisure and enjoy the nature around you.
9. Grand Isle Beach
Length: 13 miles | Difficulty: Easy | Elevation gain: 22 ft
Grand Isle Beach is a wonderful hike that is easy to complete, even though it’s lengthy at 13 miles in total. However, the length does provide you with ample opportunity to check out the array of wildlife and experience Louisiana nature in all its wonderful glory.
This is an out-and-back trail located on the sandy shores of the Grand Isle State Park. The trail is exceptionally flat and is welcoming for all hikers of all abilities and ages. However, thanks to its length, it may not be the right choice for young children or people with low stamina.
Be aware that shorter hikes do exist in the park, and you have the option of moving off onto one of those rather than tackling the longest trail. However, they are all easy to complete and there are no inclines as such for you to try to contend with.
Also, note that certain lower lying sections of the trail can become flooded after rain. That means it’s best to have waterproof hiking boots, or to only venture out during a dry spell when you know the underfoot conditions will be safer and better for hiking.
Thanks to the trail being part of the Grand Isle State Park, finding a place to park will not be a problem if you plan on hiking the Grand Isle Beach trail. There is an entrance fee, but it’s low and it goes toward maintaining the park and the trails.
While the park is open throughout the year, you need to be careful when considering a hike there. Certain sections of the park can be closed due to damage caused by hurricanes, or other natural forces. It may be sensible to consider contacting the park before you head out to ensure there are no problems.
Aside from that, the trail itself is accessible to people of all ages and hiking abilities. The only concern you may have would be its length, but as it’s an out-and-back trail it does mean you can stop at any point or take several breaks should you feel tired.
10. Backbone Trail
Length: 14.7 miles | Difficulty: Easy | Elevation gain: 1062 ft
The Backbone Trail is another lengthy hike in Louisiana that promises so much in the way of scenery and wildlife. Classed as being an easy hike, your main concern is the length, but you will have ample opportunities to stop and turn back if you get tired.
The trail itself forms part of the Kisatchie National Forest and gives you the chance to check out not only the forest itself, but also the surrounding wetlands at the same time. Be aware thatthe trail is not completely flat, and you will have to contend with a few short sections where there is a bit of an incline.
However, most of the trail is easy to complete and that is why it is viewed as being suitable for hikers of all skill levels, even older people and children. It’s only the length of the trail that could prove to be a problem for some people, but you can turn back at any time.
The trail crosses a few small streams and you do end up quite deep in the forest, which means you have a good chance to encounter different types of flora and fauna. There is always something to look at on this out-and-back trail, including birds, gators, and many different species of wildflowers.
Just be aware that mud can become an issue after rain, so make sure you have the correct footwear. Also, if you feel the 14.7 miles is too long for the one day, then you can take advantage of campsites on the trail and spend the night.
Located just to the north of Alexandria, this trail is open throughout the year. However, as is the norm with most trails in Louisiana, there may be sections closed off due to damage caused by extreme weather. Consider checking in with the forestry department to see if there are any issues on the trail before you start off.
The trailhead has parking facilities, as well as restrooms and an information board. You will also find that the trail is well marked at the start, but it can become slightly overgrown and difficult to follow at some sections along its length.
Louisiana has a number of amazing hikes for you to try out, and the 10 listed above are only a sample of what is out there. With trails suitable for all skill levels, you should easily be able to find something that fits in with your experience and abilities!