One of the best hikes in Louisiana is located in Bogue Chitto State Park. The 5-and-a-half mile long Gorge Run Trail loops through pine-covered hillsides and through river lowlands of cypress and tupelo trees.
The main trailhead of the Gorge Run Trail in Bogue Chitto State Park starts at an elevation of more than 200 feet, an impressive height for southeastern Louisiana. The path is wide and mostly covered with gravel, pine straw and leaves on top of a landscape fabric to control erosion. Also, the trail is well-marked and maintained. I took the path to the right of the trail head and followed the loop in a counter-clockwise direction.
A beautiful walk in the woods
Even in the dead of winter, the scenery is beautiful as the Gorge Run Trail curves its way through a series of ups and downs. After a mile and a half you reach the lowland portion of the trail in the bottom of this river gorge. From here the trail is mostly level and you cross a series of bridges over small creeks and walk along the shoreline of several ponds.
If your goal in hiking this trail is relaxation, you will find wooden benches throughout your five mile walk in the woods. When you stop and sit the sounds of the forest come into focus. You will hear the rustle of leaves as birds hop through the underbrush, the chirping of birds, and the sound of a breeze filtering through the treetops.
A restroom is located at the two-mile mark. There is a small fishing pier that extends over a small pond, making this a great spot to take a break. The next portion of the trail resembles a Louisiana cypress and tupelo swamp, with low areas that hold water after a rain and clusters of cypress knees decorating the shaded landscape.
finding the river
At the midway point the trail reaches the Bogue Chitto River and you will find several spots where you can stop and enjoy the scenery. Unlike most south Louisiana bayous, the Bogue Chitto River has a noticeable current, which makes this a popular place for families to float downstream in inflatable tubes. But beware that the current can become swift and dangerous after a heavy rain.
The trail turns a bit sandy near the river, but it’s still an easy walk. Your hike through the lowlands and over creeks continues until you pass the four mile marker. Here, tall pine trees once again dominate the forest as you begin your final ascent to the trail head.
emphasis on nature
As you walk the Gorge Run Trail, you will find a variety of native Louisiana tree species that are marked with signs identifying them. Here are a few that I spotted: American Beech, Water Oak, Sweetgum, Southern Magnolia, Loblolly Pine, Persimmon, Red Mulberry and Yaupon Holly. By the time you finish the trail, you should be able to identify most of these trees.
steps to the bottom
An interesting side-trail is accessed near the Gorge Run Trailhead. Take the 74 wooden steps down to the bottom of the gorge where you can enjoy a 2/3 mile long boardwalk through the thick forest. At one end of the boardwalk, you can view an area know as “Fricke’s Cave”. There is no real cave, but rather a sandstone-walled gorge marked by years of erosion.
My hike lasted two hours as I maintained a steady pace with frequent stops to take pictures. But you can easily turn your hike into a half-day relaxing journey of discovery with a picnic along the way and stops to enjoy the sights and sounds of this Louisiana State Park.
The Gorge Run Trail is located in Louisiana’s Bogue Chitto State Park near the city of Franklinton in the southeastern part of the state. The park is a little over an hour’s drive north of New Orleans.