Paddling on the Cajun Coast

Paddling on the Cajun Coast

By Donovan Garcia

From sunrise in the Atchafalaya Basin – America’s largest wetland swamp – to sunset on the Gulf of Mexico and along the bayous, canals and lakes in the intervening hours, the Cajun Coast will not disappoint as a paddling destination.

As a local with over 50 years of paddling experience, my friends and I still get excited when paddling a kayak or canoe.  Alligators, birds, flowers, large cypress trees covered with moss, an eagle flying overhead and, on rare occasion, a black bear swimming across a canal are all things you may see while paddling.

This area is a special place that locals call their playground. It can be a magical place for many people willing to explore. Make the Cajun Coast a future paddling destination for you, your family and your friends. The photos and memories you take back will amaze everyone.

Deciding where to go is the biggest challenge for paddlers. With so many choices – over 250 miles of trails on paper – it’s hard to pick just one destination.

For trail maps, visit www.cajuncoastpaddle.com.

One day or Multi-day Paddling Trails Recommended

If you only have one day to paddle the Atchafalaya Basin, consider the Grand Avoille Trail. Located in Lake Fausse Point, the trail is part of the original Atchafalaya Basin which was cut off when the west protection levee was built. Instead of paddling on the open lake, take a journey through time as you paddle in between large cypress trees. Many paddlers find this beautiful view to be the best representation of Louisiana.

If you are seeking multi-day trips guaranteed to see wildlife, consider the Franklin Paddling Trail. This area and the surrounding trails that connect to it will lead you onto or through the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge. The trail includes a residential area passing through sugarcane fields, cypress tupelo swamps and travels into coastal marshes – all within a five-mile paddle from the put-in. Other paddling trails from this same location are Black Bear, Alligator, Wood Duck and Bayou Portage. Locals favor the Wood Duck and Bayou Portage trails for their beauty. For up to date information and conditions on the refuge trails Black Bear, Alligator and Wood Duck, stop by the refuge office located on Willow Street in Franklin, LA., near the put-in. The refuge trails are subject to US Fish and Wildlife regulations.

Another multi-day paddling trip to consider is the Bayou Teche Trail.  The trail is rich in history and culture. Starting in Jeanerette, LA., this trail will give you a back yard view of antebellum and other residential homes, sugar mills, industry and unspoiled natural banks. It also travels through the home of the Chitimacha Tribe as it winds through Charenton and goes towards Baldwin, Franklin, Centerville, Patterson and Berwick. This linear trail does not have campgrounds along the way and may require shuttle assistance.  For trail information, visit www.cajuncoastpaddle.com