Experiencing fall color in Louisiana’s cypress trees can be short-lived. But at Lake Martin near Breaux Bridge, LA, it’s a goal worth planning for.
lake martin is a favorite for nature lovers
With its easy access and abundance of wildlife and beautiful cypress trees, Lake Martin has been a favorite stop of mine for years. I’ve experienced the peaceful beauty of a foggy daybreak, magical sunrises, the wildlife, and brilliant sunsets that end the day in an orange glow. But this is the first time I’ve seen Lake Martin’s fall color.
finding the fall color of Louisiana’s cypress trees
“When you come here, you never know what you’re gonna see,” explains Bryan Champagne, a long-time tour guide at Lake Martin. He adds, “Every trip we go on is different.” I timed my visit perfectly in mid-November as the cypress trees were reaching their peak of fall color. In addition to his guided tours, Champagne also rents canoes and kayaks for people who want to explore this south Louisiana gem. And getting here is easy, Lake Martin is only a 15-minute drive south of the Interstate 10 exit at Breaux Bridge.
adding south louisiana to my fall color destinations
Like most other states, Louisiana has its fall color. But for the iconic bald cypress trees, the color doesn’t last long. “If you’re not here at the right time, tomorrow it might be gone,” says Champagne. Like many other fall color enthusiasts, I have traveled to the mountains of Appalachia and the Rockies to experience brilliant autumn leaves. And I have lived amongst Louisiana’s cypress trees nearly all of my life. I have seen the short bursts of cypress color, but I had never made an effort to truly experience it. I promised myself that this year would be different.
perfect timing for the cypress fall color
On a mid-November trip between New Orleans and Houston, I exited I-10 at Breaux Bridge and drove just 12 minutes to the edge of Lake Martin. My timing was perfect. I could see all of the changing colors on the tall, moss-draped cypress trees, the bright gold, orange and red-brown leaves, mixed with lingering patches of green.
Lake Martin’s fall color on tv
The autumn swamp landscapes of Louisiana have become popular with photographers, who sign up a year in advance for a chance to get out on the water and take pictures of the cypress trees. And Champagne has benefited from their interest. He commented that a day earlier, “I had a group from Russia, and then a group from Japan this morning. I never dreamed when I started this years ago that I would meet these people from all over the world,” he added.
Pictures from a one-hour tour
It was time for me to make good on my promise. As Champagne gave me a private tour of Lake Martin, I constantly clicked the shutter of my camera. I was hoping for sunshine, but even the heavy overcast couldn’t erase the beautiful hues of autumn. The constant wildlife of the lake blended with the trees and their thick hanging moss and rust-colored leaves. And I made myself another promise, to never miss our Louisiana fall color again.
Lake Martin is located a few miles south of Breaux Bridge, LA. Take LA Hwy 31 for 2.5 miles south of Breaux Bridge to Lake Martin Rd. Turn left and drive 1.75 miles to the lake. Champagnes Cajun Swamp Tours is located at 1151 Rookery Rd on Lake Martin. Phone (337) 230-4068.