Trailheadin’: Blue Bonnet Swamp

Outdoorsmen hit the trails for any number of reasons. Some sojourn for miles at a time for the physical exertion and cardio workout that accompany longer, more rigorous trails, while others venture out with a more relaxed, sight-seeing agenda. While the former is a great way to exercise and improve your physical health, today’s Trailhead is aimed to appeal to those who enjoy the latter. Today, we head down South for a closer look at one of Louisiana’s hidden gems, the Blue Bonnet Swamp Trail.

The Blue Bonnet Swamp consists of over 100 acres of swamp and trails (mix of gravel and elevated boardwalk), as well as a nature center that offers programs for children during the summer. The nature center is home to several live animals native to the region, as well as photos of local wildlife for visitors to keep an eye out for during their hike. As the trail ventures out from the center and reaches the swamp, the gravel gives way to a boardwalk that meanders through the forest right over the water, offering a full 360-degree view.

Along the trail, you’ll find several marked overlook sites where specific plants or animals can be viewed, such as owls or hummingbirds. This is a great bonus for photographers or birdwatchers—the swamp is also home to hundreds of bird species—and the view tends to be open enough for great shots.

The trail is in Louisiana, however, and in the South, animals can be a bit more dangerous. Fire ants, venomous snakes, and other creatures are common, so venturing off the trail is not a smart idea. Furthermore, it’s important to remember that we, as humans, are only visitors to nature, which means it’s not uncommon to see potentially harmful animals on the trail. If snakes or other creatures are becoming regulars in certain parts of the trail, the nature center does a great job of warning hikers beforehand and even ropes off such locations to prevent injury to the animal or to people.

I’ve had the privilege of hiking along Blue Bonnet’s trails several times and each trip possessed a unique sight or encounter that I’ve yet to experience anywhere else. From alligators to river otters, trail-covering spiderwebs to water moccasins, the Blue Bonnet never fails to astonish. The trails may not be the longest around, but the scenery, the fun nature center, and the opportunity to view rare animals in their natural habitat, make this trail one not to miss!