In West Baton Rouge, new trails and parks bring visitors closer to nature

The afternoon calm before 5 p.m. traffic allows for a speedy arrival to Rivault Park in Port Allen. The parking lot’s gravel crunches under my tires as Google Maps confirms my destination. I’m here for the Whitehead Boulevard Trail, a walking path connecting several parks and landings along the river in West Baton Rouge.

Constructed in 2019, Whitehead is part of the parish’s push to provide green spaces for residents and visitors. My mutt, Chula, sinks her paws into the dirt of Rivault Park’s baseball field before charging across the diamond. Sand-covered fields like this, scattered across the parish, will all be upgraded with turf by this October, says WBR Parks and Recreation director Anatole Vincent.

Near a modern, almost zipline-esque swingset sits Tommy Landry, who’s watching his grandchildren play.


“We make several trips to Rivault Park a week, with grandkids or passing through on a bike ride. The grandkids love playing here,” Landry says.

I ask about Whitehead Boulevard Trail, and Landry tells me that although the trail is not marked, the views make it worth finding.

The trail begins where Whitehead Boulevard meets the Rivault Park entrance on Oaks Avenue. Chula and I walk beneath the park’s arched entrance and stroll down a paved pathway, canopied by oak trees and lined with steel benches.

We walk past cottages on a neighborhood sidewalk until we reach City Hall. Here’s the Veterans Memorial Park (also known as Centennial Park) and the Fitness Park, with a fenced path leading up the levee behind it. We pass a family of four and warmly smile at one another. Later, we catch a group called Senior Spirit, which encourages outdoor activities for local senior citizens.

At the top of the path, a historical marker recites “The Old Ferry Landing site, active from 1820 to 1968.” From here, I can see Baton Rouge. The State Capitol seems to tower over the waterfront.

We walk down the levee, passing sightseers and a couple holding hands. A white Ford truck with blue spraypainted rims passes, reminding me of my brother.

Audubon Park marks the end of the trail, and one look at my little sidekick tells me she will sleep well tonight.

I think of how Vincent described this walk to me: “Move it or lose it,” he says. “Get some exercise. Giving our people options to get out 100% helps with their quality of life. The science is there.”

As Chula and I get back in the car for the drive across the river, I’m certain of one thing: We will soon be back to walk this trail.

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More West Baton Rouge green spaces

West Baton Rouge Heritage Trailway is a walking and biking path along the Mississippi River. A 5-mile portion called the DeSoto Levee Top Trail spans Brusly to Addis. More trails are planned for the future.
• The new Saint James Park opened in Brusly last October. The 33,000-square-foot park is complete with bikeshare racks, event space and the Legacy Walk, which details local history.

This article was originally published in the May 2023 issue of 225 magazine.