The Bayou Teche National Paddle Trail provides a unique way to explore the heart of Louisiana’s scenic Cajun country. The 130-mile-long bayou snakes it’s way through the backyards and farms of an area that was home to the state’s first Acadian settlers 250 years ago.
an ideal waterway for a paddle trip
More than a decade ago, a group of volunteers organized bayou cleanup efforts that have removed more than 58 tons of trash from this south Louisiana waterway. Bayou Teche received its designation as a National Water Trail in 2015, the only one of its kind in Louisiana. Floating docks have been added to 15 different locations along Bayou Teche, making it possible for kayakers to plan a variety of paddle trips of varying distances between different communities. Much of the work was organized by the non-profit Teche Project. Executive Director Patti Holland says it is easy, “for people to go out with families, with children, and hop down the bayou from one location to the other.” The Teche Project provides trail maps with dock locations on its website. Click here.
bayou teche paddle trail featured on tv
my trip down the bayou teche paddle trail
My guide was Mike VanEtten, who works for Pack & Paddle in Lafayette, LA. Mike brought the canoe and we launched from the newly-installed floating dock near the Poche Bridge on Bayou Teche. The launch is located behind Poche’s meat market on the west side of the bayou. Mike did most of the paddling while I shot video and snapped pictures along the way. He guided our canoe under overhanging trees and pointed out birds that he spotted along the bayou. A great white egret “played tag” with us. The large wading bird would fly downstream when we got close, wait for us, and then fly downstream again, repeating over and over for a couple of miles.
a treat for birdwatchers
VanEtten is an experienced birdwatcher. He recognized a variety of bird calls and used his binoculars to spot birds along Bayou Teche. “We’ve already seen today the belted kingfisher, the great egret, great blue heron and some hawks.” There were also a few hummingbirds enjoying some of the wildflowers along the shoreline.
paddle parade & Party on the bayou
The Teche Project is staging its annual Paddle Boat Parade on Saturday, October 21, 2023. The parade paddle party will begin at the Poche Bridge and end 4.5 miles down the bayou at Breaux Bridge. The “Shake your Trail Feathers” event begins with the paddle at 10am and continues with a Party in the Parc at Breaux Bridge from 11:30am-2pm with live music, food and drinks, and kids activities. Click here for more information.