NOTE: As you head out on the trail, remember to follow the guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local governments. For resources on how to #SharetheTrail and #RecreateResponsibly, go to railstotrails.org/COVID-19.
Louisiana is famous for its jazz music, Cajun cuisine and Mardi Gras, but trail aficionados know the state has much more to offer—with picturesque pathways connecting many top attractions, and allowing for scenic views of everything from greenery to bustling urban streets. Since Louisiana does not have counties, but instead is divided into parishes, we’ve listed the relevant parishes below for each trail.
Here are 10 of our favorite trails in the Bayou State.
Parish: St. Tammany
The first rail-trail in Louisiana, the Tammany Trace plays an important role in keeping communities connected and healthy. Attracting more than 300,000 visitors annually, the trail connects five cities: Covington, Abita Springs, Mandeville, Lacombe and Slidell. The paved walkway offers trail users a way to enjoy the outdoors while seeing local attractions like the Abita Trailhead Museum, the Mandeville Community Market, the Dew Drop Jazz & Social Hall and the Covington Trailhead—an attraction in and of itself—which offers an amphitheater and visitor center.
The 31-mile pathway was recognized for its outstanding scenic and community value by being inducted into Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s (RTC’s) Rail-Trail Hall of Fame in 2017.
Parish: Jefferson, Orleans, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist
The developing, 61-mile Mississippi River Trail (Louisiana) is part of an ambitious initiative to create a paved route for bikers and walkers along the entirety of the Mississippi River. When complete, the larger trail route will eventually stretch for thousands of miles, from Louisiana to Minnesota.
A famous portion of the trail in Louisiana is situated atop the main river levee in New Orleans for more than 20 miles—offering trail users unique perspectives of the water and surrounding region. The route, which connects Audubon Park in New Orleans to the Bonnet Carré Spillway in St. Charles Parish, is surfaced with asphalt and is suitable for walking, bicycling and inline skating.
The Wisner Trail is the perfect way to enjoy open space and greenery in an urban setting. The 2.8-mile pathway is adjacent to City Park in New Orleans—a 1,300-acre flagship recreational space that features attractions such as the New Orleans Art Museum, a sculpture garden and botanical gardens, as well as more interactive elements like mini-golf and an amusement park. Beyond City Park, the Wisner Trail runs along Bayou St. John, a popular picnic and recreation area.
Spanning for almost 3 miles in a central section of New Orleans, the Lafitte Greenway serves as a vital off-road connector for walkers and bicyclists to access neighborhoods, public spaces, historic sites and shopping centers. On its northwestern end is City Park, New Orleans’ flagship open space; there, trail users can hop on the Wisner Trail leading to Bayou St. John. On the southeast end of the trail, a 1-block trek takes you to the famous French Quarter. Symbolic murals and art line the path, making for a picturesque walk.
Fun Fact: The Lafitte Greenway was built with infrastructure developed for stormwater and environmental management. Bioswales, which are tufts of land with hydrophilic plants designed to store excess water, have been installed throughout the greenway. Because of the implementation of bioswales and the planting of more than 500 trees, the greenway can store more than two Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of water—making flooding less likely.
The Red River Bicycle Trail runs through the heart of Shreveport, offering views of both the river and skyline along the way. The 6.6-mile-long path starts at RiverView Park, where visitors can enjoy a variety of gardens and sculptures, and ultimately ends at the Charles and Marie Hamel Memorial Park, a popular picnic spot. The trail passes through Veterans and Freedom Park and ends at Charles and Marie Hamel Memorial Park, a 17-acre public open space with a picnic area and boat launch. If you’re looking to enjoy a day of walking and outdoor activities, the Red River Bicycle Trail is a great choice.
Connecting local businesses, schools, universities and neighborhoods, the 2.8-mile Rock Island Greenway is just the beginning of a new era of active transportation for many in the small town of Ruston, Louisiana. The trail is part of a larger initiative to improve overall health and wellness in the area, as well as access to safe transportation options, including walking and bicycling. After garnering much support for being the first shared-use path in its region, community members and local students collaborated by painting a large-scale mural along the trail. The Rock Island Greenway is partly shaded by picturesque greenery and is fully paved.
Built as part of a post-Katrina revitalization effort, the Crescent Park Trail offers convenient transportation to many iconic sights in Orleans County along a 1.4-mile route linking the Mississippi River waterfront to neighborhoods in the French Market District as well as along Chartres Street and Mazant Street. The paved trail—which was built to accommodate pedestrians crossing active railroad tracks between the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods and the riverfront, offers breathtaking views of New Orleans and a variety of outdoor amenities, including a dog run and multiple trailside pavilions.
The Arthur Ray Teague Parkway Trail is an 8-foot-wide, 4.3-mile long pathway that is situated on the bank of the Red River in Bossier City—providing unobstructed views of the water and surrounding greenery. The trail also provides vital connections for commuters, with links to destinations such as the Brookshire Grocery Arena (Formerly CenturyLink Center) and Walker Place Park. Along the route, you’ll find benches, restrooms and a park at the halfway point—making it convenient for families with children.
Parish: East Baton Rouge
Convenience and inclusion are what the Baton Rouge Levee Bike Path is all about! Its many accolades include a 15-foot-wide pathway, lighting, seating, water fountains and separate lanes for cyclists and walkers/joggers. The 4.1-mile trail also connects to the 1-mile riverfront promenade in downtown Baton Rouge, which enables access to attractions such as the Farr Park Equestrian Center, the USS Kidd Naval Museum, the Louisiana Art & Science Museum and the Old State Capitol building. The trail also provides access to the Louisiana State University campus.
Skirting the second largest saltwater lake in the country, the 12.3-mile Pontchartrain Lakefront Trail offers breathtaking views that quite literally go on for miles. The trail also follows Lakeshore Drive (on its south side), which passes Pontchartrain Beach and a picnic recreation ground. The trail features an underpass beneath Causeway Boulevard, making it well suited for commuters on bike and foot.
If you’re looking for a lazy day at the lake or a stroll with beautiful scenery, the Pontchartrain will have just what you’re looking for.
The Bootlace Network is a collaboration to create a network of trails stretching over 100 miles—from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to the Mississippi Gulf Coast—by linking existing trails and greenways together. The goals of the project include increasing safe access to critical destinations while improving the overall walkability and bikeability of the region.