Heart of Louisiana: Big Branch National Wildlife Refuge

Updated: Apr. 21, 2020 at 9:45 PM CDT
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LACOMBE, La. (WVUE) - If you’re feeling a little closed in these days, we found a nice spot where you and the family can spend an hour or two walking at a safe social distance from other people. And the best part is, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery of a South Louisiana marsh and forest.

This nature walk is tucked away along the southern edge of St. Tammany Parish near where Bayou Lacombe meets Lake Pontchartrain.

Mornings there are beautiful.

It’s called the Boy Scout Road Trail. A half-mile long boardwalk takes you through a pine savannah and then leads you across a lowland marsh. Along the way, you are treated to a blooming landscape. Some obvious and some of it requires a closer look.

John and Leslie Wallace lives nearby.

“It’s wonderful. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful and some wildlife. We see deer and lots of birds and enjoy the vegetation really is beautiful,” says John Wallace.

If you don’t have much of a garden at home, it doesn’t get much better than this. All of the Louisiana irises are in bloom now and they’re right along the boardwalk.

But the blooming plants change by the week.

“It’s just a wonderful place to come and take a walk. Morning or afternoon. Mid-say gets a little hot,” says Craig Houin.

After the boardwalk ends, a wide gravel trail takes you through a shady, wooded landscape, where tall pines are replaced by oak trees. The walk to Bayou Lacombe is about five miles round trip.

Houin and a friend find a walk here is a welcome escape.

“This is kind of a special treat to come out here and be a little bit more alone and you can keep your social distance a little bit easier out here,” says Houin. “Gives us a chance to talk together, walk together, do something fun together and just kind of get away from the everyday routine that you have at home.”

Along the path, don’t forget to pause and look around. You can see where woodpeckers make their homes in the tall pines. Watch butterflies move between flowers and hear songbirds. Take time to listen to the sounds of nature.

You might be surprised how good you feel.

The Big Ranch National Wildlife Refuge near Lacombe is open. Just remember to keep a safe distance from others.

For more information visit https://www.fws.gov/refuge/big_branch_marsh/.

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