Louisiana is not just about the French Quarter and Mardi Gras celebrations. You can find a lot of off the grid places to kick back and relax away from the typical tourist spots. These locations will give you an up-close look at the real Louisiana. Here are some of the best places in the Pelican State to disconnect from your busy life.
Bonnet Carre Spillway Trail – Norco
For a little urban adventure, you will want to grab your mountain bike and head to the Bonnet Carre Spillway. Designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, this area helps to alleviate some of the flood waters in the New Orleans area. In addition to protecting the city, it has become an outdoor oasis for those wanting to get away from busy city life. The cycling trail has many plank berms, obstacles, and jumps for riders of all levels. The Bonnet Carre Trail is also a favorite spot for hikers that want to explore the local swamplands. This trail is about 4.8 miles long and curves around the swampy waterways. Whether you travel by foot or bike, you can see some spectacular views of the area. You have the choice of taking one of two hiking or biking trails in the area. Hikers are advised to follow the path in a clockwise direction (bikers should go the opposite way) to avoid bike traffic and potential collisions. For everyone’s safety, bright orange paint marks the hazards on the road. When you travel down this nature trail, you will not even know you’re only miles from the Big Easy.
Palmetto Island State Park – Vermilion Parish
This park is one of the newest additions to the Louisiana State Park system. Since 1981, the state of Louisiana has been the owner of this piece of land, but they did not begin any construction until 2002 due to budget constraints. The 1,299-acre park finally opened to the public on October 28, 2010. As the name suggests, the coastal hardwood park has a variety of palmettos, including the Dwarf Palmetto species. Guests can rent out the park’s visitor center for weddings, meetings, and other events. If you want to rough it, the park has six two-bedroom cabins in the forest, or you can reserve one of the 95 campsites. Those wishing to pack a lunch can enjoy their meal at several picnic pavilions or benches throughout the park. The Vermilion River winds through the park, so kayakers and canoeists can travel down the waterway to get a unique look at the palmettos. For those wanting to stay on land, the nature trail provides an opportunity to see the native plant and animal life in the area.
Kisatchie National Forest – Pineville
The only U.S. national forest in Louisiana is near Pineville. Kisatchie National Forest has many opportunities for those who want to indulge in outdoor recreation. If you love the outdoors, this forest has something for everyone with plenty of boating, camping, hunting, and biking activities. There are over 100 miles of trails for bikers, horseback riders, and hikers.
In addition to the trails, there are over 40 developed sites for all types of recreational activities. Near the Saline Bayou, you can find a 13-mile water trail, along with the Sugar Cane Trail and the Wild Azalea Trail national recreation trails. For pure escapism, you can camp overnight in the forest at a primitive site or get a full hookup for your RV accommodations.
Lake D’Arbonne State Park – Farmersville
This beautiful lake park attracts visitors from all over the state. With over 655 acres, you can enjoy the preserved piney forests and rolling hills throughout this new park. Even though it is in a secluded area, there are plenty of modern conveniences for visitors. You can visit the swimming pool and tennis complex for some extracurricular activities. If camping is more your speed, there are 18 vacation cabins, 65 campsites, and two overnight lodges. For larger groups, you can rent a group camp that sleeps over 52 people for the night. Children can enjoy the playground in both the overnight and day-use areas. Lake D’Arbonne is a 15,250-acre lake that allows fishing from boats or off the pier. This spot has seen some record catches of bream, catfish, and bass over the past few years. If you would rather spend a relaxing day on the water, the open areas of the lake are the perfect spot for pleasure boaters. When you need a relaxing day away from the world, make your next stop at Lake D’Arbonne.
Barataria Preserve – Marrero
For a glimpse of Louisiana’s natural wetlands, stop by Barataria Preserve. The park’s 23,000 acres of forests, marshes, bayous, and swamps are a great place to see some native wildlife in the state. You can walk down the dirt paths or stay on the boardwalk for an up-close look at the alligators and the 200 species of birds that inhabited the preserve. If you fear you might get lost, the preserve offers self-guided or cell phone tours for its visitors.
In addition to nature exploration, you can browse around the visitor’s center exhibits that focus on the relationship between the Mississippi River and the people of the state. For the children, there is a Junior Ranger program and other activities to pique their interest in the preserve.
Lake Chicot State Park – Ville Platte
Finally, a trip to the best off the grid locations would not be complete without a stop at Lake Chicot State Park. With over 6,400 acres, this is the largest park in the state of Louisiana. The cold waters have recorded some of the biggest freshwater catches of red-ear sunfish, largemouth bass, bluegill, and crappie. You can even bring your boat and begin your journey at one of three launches, or you can also rent a boat for the day. The hiking trail, which encircles the entire lake, allows hikers to explore the area’s natural landscape.
The state park has a few primitive campsites for those who want to spend a night in the wilderness. If you prefer to travel by bike, there is a trail designed for mountain bikers, or you can take hit the roadways that wind through the whole park.