Hiking the Kisatchie Hills
The Kisatchie is the only national forest in the state of Louisiana, and it offers numerous trails that can make for a great day of hiking. The trails range from easy to moderate, short to long distance, and some offer a hilly landscape that is unusual in the Bayou State.
The Longleaf Vista Recreation Area has been nicknamed “Louisiana’s Little Grand Canyon”. While it’s nothing like Arizona’s Grand Canyon, this area of the Bayou State offers an unusually rocky landscape and a 1.5 mile loop trail that takes you up a series of steps to a butte, then down through a lowland forest area and across a small stream.
for Louisiana, an elevation change of more than 200 feet offers some ups and downs that make for an enjoyable hiking experience. The trail begins at the Longleaf Vista Overlook, with a paved parking area, restrooms and shaded picnic area. You also get a great overlook of the tall pines of the Kisatchie, Louisiana’s only National Forest.
The Longleaf Vista Trail is located midway between cities of Alexandria and Natchitoches Louisiana, about 10 miles west of Interstate 49.
Louisiana’s Kisatchie National Forest is also home to some of the darkest skies in the state. In fact, on a moonless night, you can enjoy a star-filled sky and view the milky way from the Longleaf Vista Overlook.
I’ve been going to the Scenic Overlook and picnic area since the 1960s. From Alexandria, my Mom would load up sandwiches and drinks any Sunday afternoon. We called it Cloutierville, Red Dirt or Kisatche. My brother and I would bolt out of the car and disappear into the woods and Momma never worried about us. The buttes, we called them mesas, were devoid of trees then, and the pine forest was young, with mostly small trees. We’d crest the first one and we could look back to where Momma and Daddy were relaxing or heading down the trail to meet us. I didn’t learn about the Kisatche River until the 90s when I was a Boy Scout leader. We tried to canoe it, not enough water, but it was beautiful. This unique landscape introduced me to sandstone, hills in Louisiana and of course, ticks. Great memories.
Thanks for the comment Eddie. I’ve been there a few times and can see how the boys would have a blast running through that landscape. It’s a special place.