Lake Country of Northern Louisiana
The river too high to paddle? Not interested in a wild muddy river? Don’t feel strong enough to get on the wild and powerful Lower Mississippi River?
Rewarding alternative for paddlers in Northeastern Louisiana can be found at any number of lakes. Some of these lakes are found within the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge. Others are the giant oxbow lakes found alongside the mighty Mississippi such as Lake Bruin, Lake Concordia, Lake St. Joseph and Lake St. John. These lakes are safe for paddlers of any ability, but require the usual precautions.
If you had to choose between the oxbow lakes, Lake Bruin has the most friendly access. Within Tensas NWR Africa Lake is the most beautiful and furthermore is slightly smaller and easier to access. That said, you could paddle around any of these lakes within a half day.
Click here for paddling trails on the Lakes of Northeastern Louisiana:
Lake Bruin Paddling Trail
2-3 miles round trip
Good paddling on beautiful clear water lake. You can canoe or kayak as far as you feel like going, but 2 to 3 miles suggested to get full flavor. Lake Bruin is an oxbow lake of the Mississippi River with 3,000 acres of open water. The lake dives to over 50 feet deep in places. The recommended trail begins and ends at the State Park and makes a short loop around its southeastern extreme.
Lake Concordia Paddling Trail
Small but very deep oxbow lake, Concordia sparkles with the clearest water of any of Northern Louisiana's oxbows. Great swimming, but be wary of gators. Over 150 deep in places. Thickly populated with houses and piers along its southern end, and busy with motorboats during the summer months. Paddlers can find some peace and more wildlife at the northern end of the lake amongst stands of bald cypress and clumps of vegetation. Good paddling for canoes, kayaks or stand up paddleboards.
Lake St. Joseph Paddling Trail
3-5 miles round trip
Lake St. Joseph is thought to be one of the oldest oxbow lakes along the Lower Mississippi. It is also one of the most storied: It was important to the Mississippian peoples who populated the region, and later to the Tensas people who lived in numerous villages along the lake. It is the site of Louisiana’s first Christian mass, which was conducted by the LaSalle Expedition. Along its bank is found “Winter Quarters,”
Lake St. John Paddling Trail
Mississippi River Old oxbow lake. St. John is ringed by houses and fields on all but its northeastern extremity. Hence the best paddling, and most plentiful wildlife is found at the same. At writing time (2013) the only reliable public access close to north end was found at the Spokane Fishing Resort, but we were told by locals a public access was being planned for an old primitive ramp located in the far NE end of the lake, in a smaller but connected pond/wetlands swamp.
© 2014 John Ruskey
For the Rivergator: Lower Mississippi River Water Trail
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