Escaping to the famed Louisiana swamps doesn’t require a boat ride or driving through back alleys of Cyprus trees. You might even find one in the middle of your city. Read about Baton Rouge’s own swamp after the jump.
It’s easy to hear about certain regions or cities and have some sort of stereotypical response. I say New York, you might think of the Statue of Liberty. I say Memphis, you consider Elvis, or some good BBQ. I say Arizona, you think of the desert.
I say Louisiana, you might think of Mardi Gras, jazz music, or really good seafood. Somewhere in your thoughts, I’d bet, is the word “swamp.”
Since Baton Rouge is in the southern part of Louisiana, swamps are not uncommon, even though we are a relatively good distance away from the wetlands of the coast. The closest swamp is within the city itself, the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center
The Center devotes 103 acres to the flora and fauna of Louisiana. It includes a building which houses several live animals such as snakes and birds, as well as photography of the trails, many of which were taken by local photographers. The trails themselves are home to many animals, such as rabbits, armadillos, foxes, and even deer.
Louisiana summers are hot, but with the canopy of trees above you, the trail stays relatively comfortable. The best time to go is the in the morning, soon after opening, to get the rest of the cool morning air, and the day after it rains. It may be a swamp, but that heat will dry it right up!
You can pick up a map at the trail head, but really, you don’t need it. The trails are well marked, made up of both gravel and wooden bridges. They are not so excessively long that you need to worry about getting lost; all the trails connect to each other, and the “library trail” will always bring you back to the beginning.
A word of warning: at this point in the summer, the trails are not for the faint of heart! It’s banana spider season, so keep a close eye on the branches above and around you. These pictures were taken near the end of June, and I only saw one that day. They aren’t terribly aggressive (in my younger days I’d throw rocks with little result), but the bites will hurt!
The rest of the photos from this adventure can be found here.