The State of Louisiana has but one designated National Forest, and it is none other than the Kisatchie National Forest, located just southwest of Alexandria, Louisiana. The history, features, and overall exploration of the forest can be read fully in the reference piece put together by LouisianaTravel.com.
The Kisatchie National Forest includes more than 600,000 acres of protected forest that allows for what locals call the “prettiest views” Louisiana has to offer as well as “endless outdoor adventures.” The National Forest itself expands across seven Louisiana parishes, making it one of the largest protected lands in the state. Because of its immense size a wide array of outdoor activities such as mountain biking, hiking, camping, fishing, birding, horseback riding, nature viewing, swimming, hunting, and boating can be found at any of the over 40 recreation sites that are connected by over 100 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails.
There are five distinct Ranger Districts to be found at Kisatchie National Forest: Calcasieu, Caney, Catahoula, Kisatchie, and Winn, and it’s at these Ranger Districts that visitors can inquire about their specific area’s recreational activities. Kisatchie National Forest’s main headquarters can be found at the Calcasieu Ranger District. To learn more about Kisatchie in general, visit their site.
Campers sleeping in tents or in an RV are all welcome at Kisatchie, as each Ranger District offers a wide-array of both campground and RV camping areas. The Kisatchie Ranger District is by far the most popular due to its 10 campgrounds. Additionally, visitors find the Kisatchie Bayou Recreation Complex to be perfect for general camping as well as having access to trails, fishing, and boating-all with a spectacular view of the sandstone hills and surrounding forest.
Each Ranger District at Kisatchie National Forest has its own popular fishing area that invites all visiting anglers to hook types of catfish, bass, perch, and more. Most visitors gravitate towards the popular Corney Lake Recreation Area in the Forrest’s Caney District due to its large, 2,300-acre reservoir. Others visit the Calcasieu Ranger District’s Kincaid Lake, found in the Evangeline unit, where one can dock at the 2,600-acre reservoir’s multiple docks and boat “put-ins.”
Kisatchie Horseback Riding
Among Kisatchie National Forest’s trails are some traversed by horses, such as the Caroline Dorman Trail of 10.5 miles of forest-meandering trails. Along this trail comes a parking lot specifically designated for horse trailers. In addition to the Caroline Dorman Trail is the Gum Springs Horse Camp and its ample parking for horse trailers as well as both long and short loop trail options that will take visitors through grassy prairie sections that are interspersed throughout the forest. It is suggested that beginners or anyone wanting a guided horseback riding tour visit the Hayes E. Daze Ranch, as guides that visitors on rides ranging from one to three hours beneath a pine canopy.
Kisatchie National Forest has over 100 miles of hiking trails with distances among them ranging from a half-mile to nearly 30 miles, so there’s literally something for everyone. With each trail providing a deep dive into the wilderness and natural beauty of the forest, you might have to make multiple trips if you find yourself having trouble choosing just one to traverse. It’s suggested that beginners, families, or those in search of a great view check out the Longleaf Vista Interpretive Trail that features a 1.5 mile loop that winds through the forest and on ridges that provide excellent vantage points of the 8,700-acre Kisatchie Hills Wilderness.
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