Looking for a cardio workout that can lower your risk of heart disease, boost bone density, strengthen your glutes, legs, and core, improve your balance, and boost your mood, all without feeling like you’re “exercising?” How about an activity that can be enjoyed alone, or with a group, and gives you plenty of fresh air and killer views of Mother Nature? Sound good? Then hiking may just be your new favorite hobby. The list of benefits goes on and on, plus all you need are some comfortable shoes and a water bottle (maybe a hydration backpack if you want to get fancy) to get started. You might be thinking, “New Orleans is totally flat, there’s no hiking here!” It’s true we might not have any mountains, but luckily #FrayLife is here with our guide to the best Day Hike spots near NOLA.
Bogue Chitto State Park: Gorge Run Trail
You’ll find Bogue Chitto (pronounced bow-guh chee-toh) State Park across the lake, about 60 miles (1 hour 20 minutes or so) from New Orleans. The park features small streams, cypress swaps, and hardwood forests, but the best view you’ll see is Fricke’s Cave, which looks more like a gorge. Walk the boardwalk through the gorge/cave to admire the sandstone structures up close, then return back to the trail for a bird’s eye view. This hike is great for beginners, as it’s a very flat, well-marked 5-mile loop. If the hike isn’t enticing enough to get you across the lake, the park also offers canoe and tubing rentals on the scenic Bogue Chitto River, as well as a 9-hole disc golf course.
Clark Creek Natural Area: Primitive Trail/ Clark Creek Trail/ Waterfall Trail
Located about 130 miles (roughly a 2 hour 45 minute drive) from New Orleans, just over the Mississippi border, Clark Creek feels like a world away from the city. Forest? Check. Hills? Check. Waterfalls? Check. That’s right; Clark Creek State Park is the only place in the state you can see waterfalls, ranging from 10ft to over 30ft high. To see them, though, is no walk in the park. The 6 miles of trails include plenty of steep hills, so even more advanced hikers should plan on spending a good 4 hours of trekking. A detailed trail map is available online.
#FrayLife Tip: Pack a lunch (and plenty of water!) to enjoy at one of the many scenic waterfall lookouts. The only bathroom is at the very beginning, so expect that you might have to, uh, make your mark in the woods.
Hooper Road Park: Various Trails
Baton Rouge, LA
Louisiana’s Cap’ City is just under 90 miles (an hour and a half without traffic) from NOLA, and Hooper Road Park is just outside of BR. The park features over five miles of hikeable trails through woods and over bluffs. The trails were built with mountain bikes in mind, so it’s one of the rare places in Southern LA you can find some hills. A full map of trails is available online.
Fountainebleu State Park: Hiking Trail & Nature Trail
Right on the other side of the lake, under 40 miles (45 minutes) from New Orleans, Fountainebleu State Park was originally a sugar plantation owned by Mandeville’s founder. Found on the picturesque shores of Lake Pontchartrain, the park features a 4.8-mile hiking trail, as well as a boardwalk nature trail through marshland.
#FrayLife Tip: Once you’ve had your fill of hiking, enjoy sunbathing on the sandy beach, which is the closest one to the city.
Did we miss one of your favorite trails? Share with us in the comments and be sure to tag #FrayLife and #NOLAFray on your next outdoor adventure!
Going for a hike can make for a great date adventure; however, if you’re looking for something a little more unique and romantic, check out these date night ideas that will help you break routine.
View More Articles By Katie Baer