For a Louisiana campground, Valentine Lake may be a bit on the primitive side, but this secluded spot on a quiet lake is truly a real beauty. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature and explore the piney woods of the Kisatchie National Forest.
a step back in time at valentine lake
Valentine Lake Recreation Area is a hidden gem in Central Louisiana, nestled within the Kisatchie National Forest, around 20 miles west of Alexandria. As one of the older public campgrounds in the state, the recreation area and campground offer a unique historical aspect. U.S. Forest Service Ranger Jonny Fryar explains, “It was actually built by the Civilian Conservation Corps back in the 1930s. They built the dam, the spillway, and made this approximately 40-acre lake, which we manage today as one of our recreation areas.”
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the beauty of primitive camping
With 14 campsites, some along the picturesque lake shore, Valentine Lake provides a more primitive camping experience. Fryar describes the campground as having running water at the bathrooms but no electricity or water at each site. He adds, “It’s really a beautiful setting. It’s quiet. A lot of people like that. So they come here.” The cost of a campsite is $10 per night.
Visitors Bart and Karen Austin, traveling from Wisconsin to Colorado, discovered Valentine Lake and appreciated its serenity. Bart Austin called it a “jewel” and Karen Austin praised it as “absolutely stellar.”
explore the trails and wildlife
One of the most enjoyable aspects of this recreation complex is its trail system. Hikers can explore trails along the lake or deep into the woods of the Kisatchie, with Valentine Lake’s trails connecting to the 25-mile long Wild Azalea Trail, the longest hiking trail in the state.
Michael Mazur, a camper from New Orleans, keeps coming back to Valentine Lake for “the solitude, of course, the loveliness of the campgrounds, just nature itself.” The area also offers opportunities to spot wildlife, such as alligators, and the lake is stocked with Florida bass for fishing enthusiasts. Paddling is allowed, but power boats are prohibited.
waiting for sunset
Luis Wilson of Orlando, who visited Valentine Lake to take photographs, found it to be a beautiful place to capture the sunset. As the sun dipped below the trees, it said farewell with a golden blanket of color and the soothing sounds of nature.
getting to Valentine lake
Valentine Lake is located in the Kisatchie National Forest about 20 miles west of the central Louisiana city of Alexandria.
Directions: From Alexandria, drive west on Louisiana Highway 28 West for 12 miles to Louisiana Highway 121. Turn left (south) on LA 121 and go 0.3 miles to Valentine Lake Road (Forest Road 279) and turn left. Go 0.8 miles to Forest Road 282 and turn right. Go 1.1 mile. The first paved right is to the North Shore Campground. Continue on Forest Road 282 for 0.5 miles, to the right is the Day Use/Fishing Area. Continue on Forest Road 282 for 2 miles to the Wild Azalea Trailhead parking area.
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