Louisiana: Take the Trail to Nowhere

Trees in the Wild Azalea Natinoal Recreation Trail, Louisiana; Photograph by Justin Meissen, flickr
Trees in the Wild Azalea Natinoal Recreation Trail, Louisiana; Photograph by Justin Meissen, flickr

Hike the Wild Azalea National Recreation Trail.

What Is It? Central Louisiana’s Wild Azalea National Recreation Trail, located in the southwest of Alexandria, travels the length of a marathon (26.2 miles). You could hike the whole thing in a day or spend three days backpacking through this rich, biodiverse region. Even though the Bayou State is known for being flat, the Wild Azalea has a plethora of ups and downs as it travels through pine covered hills, wetlands, bogs, lush bottomlands, and dense hardwood forests. If 26 miles is too much, you could choose to hike a shorter portion—say from the town of Woodworth to the Valentine Lake Recreation Area—which would allow you more time to stop and smell the azaleas.

Why Do It? As you travel this route through Louisiana’s only national forest, you’ll deeply feel the remote character of this uninhabited spot. Enjoy as it traverses hardwood forests, creeks, piney uplands, and lands in the Castor Creek Scenic Area, where massive pines form a dramatic canopy. The region teems with wildlife so watch for eagles, flocks of turkeys, and beavers.

Make It Happen: For more information visit the Kisatchie National Forest website. For detailed information on the hike and the plants and animals you may see along the way, pick up the Explorer’s Guide to 50 Hikes in Louisiana: Walks, Hikes and Backpacks in the Bayou State by Janina Baxley and the Long Trails of the Southeast by Johnny Molloy.

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More: See America’s 100 Best Adventures and Long Weekends Like a Local

50 Best Summer Weekend Adventures: Great adventures are all around us—and summer is the ideal time to seek them. To give you some ideas and inspiration, every weekday we will be sharing a different U.S. summer weekend adventure, state-by-state from A to Z. We invite you to share your favorite summer weekend adventures in the comments section below when your favorite state is featured. Report back after the weekend to tell us about the outdoor adventures you had.