Six local hiking trails to traverse this fall

When you think about fun outdoor activities in Baton Rouge, hiking probably isn’t one of the first things that comes to mind. Well, we’re here to tell you it should be.

Thanks to the fine folks at BREC and the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens, there are plenty of trails in town to satisfy your hiking needs now that the weather is getting a little cooler. Sure, you won’t find much change in elevation. But you will be able to explore the types of beautiful scenery that only southeastern Louisiana can offer. Just make sure to pack some bug spray.

Ideal for beginners, dog-walkers and leisurely strollers, the Learning Tree Trail is one of the easiest options in Baton Rouge. It’s mostly paved and offers plenty of shade from tall trees. If you’re still hungry for more after you complete the trail, don’t worry—several of the Botanic Gardens’ lengthier trails stem from it. Read on for those.

Length: 0.5 miles, loop
Difficulty: Easy
Where: LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens, 4560 Essen Lane

The Palmetto Trail is one of the paths that can be accessed through the Learning Tree Trail. Relatively short and easy, it’s another trail ideal for relaxing strolls. Depending on the time of year, you may also come across wildflowers growing along the trail.

Length: 0.6 miles, out-and-back
Difficulty: Easy
Where: LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens

Arguably the most scenic trail in the Botanic Gardens, the Black Swamp Trail offers gorgeous views of the tupelo swamp and plenty of information on the various plants and trees you’ll encounter along the way. You’ll definitely want to see this one through—a wooden boardwalk takes you on a tour through the swamp toward the end of the trail.

Length: 2.2 miles, out-and-back
Difficulty: Easy
Where: LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens

Well-developed and highly trafficked, the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center Trail is one of the city’s best destinations for families. With plenty of scenic views of the swamp and the chance to encounter snakes, turtles, deer and more, this trail is one every Baton Rougean should make an effort to traverse.

Length: 1.25 miles, loop
Difficulty: Easy
Where: Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center, 10503 N. Oak Hills Parkway

Whereas most of the trails in the Red Stick are defined as “nature trails” (well-paved, well-marked), Baton Rouge also has a few “primitive trails” to satisfy those looking for a more traditional hiking experience. The Comite Park Trail is one example—it’s a much narrower, more rugged path that offers an immersive deep-dive into Baton Rouge’s dense woodlands close to the Comite River.

Length: 4.9 miles, loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Where: Comite River Park, 8900 Hooper Road

The Hooper Road Park Trail is Baton Rouge’s ultimate primitive trail, just down the road from Comite Park. Many sections of the trail are slightly overgrown, and it’s marked less consistently than others in the area. This one is for confident, experienced hikers who don’t mind getting their clothes dirty.

Length: 3.9 miles, loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Where: Hooper Road Park, 6261 Guynell Drive


Birds you can spot on local nature trails

Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center

Summer: white ibis, prothonotary warbler, great crested flycatcher, ruby-throated hummingbird
Winter: great-horned owl, white-throated sparrow, gray catbird, cedar waxwing
Year-Round: pileated woodpecker, barred owl

Highland Road Park (14024 Highland Road), Comite River Park and Hooper Road Park

Summer: red-shouldered hawk, white-eyed vireo, Kentucky warbler, hooded Warbler

Blackwater Conservation Area (Hooper and Blackwater roads)

Summer: red-shouldered hawk, anhinga, roseate spoonbill, wood stork, painted and indigo bunting
Winter: white-throated sparrow, gray catbird, forster’s tern, orange-crowned warbler

This article was originally published in the October 2018 issue of 225 Magazine.