Heart of Louisiana: Mary Ann Brown Trail

It’s one of those mornings that just begs you to spend time outdoors.
Published: Nov. 13, 2022 at 3:59 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 13, 2022 at 10:37 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It’s one of those mornings that just begs you to spend time outdoors.

The early morning sun peaks through the trees. There’s a coolness in the air, and the first leaves are showing their brief autumn color. I’m walking the Mary Ann Brown trail not far from St. Francisville, it covers about two and a half miles of a preserve owned by the Louisiana nature conservancy.

“It’s a beautiful preserve situated in the hilly loess hills of St. Francisville, which is a relatively unique region or part of the state that’s open to the public. During daylight hours, 365 days a year,” said Will Degravelles.

Will Degravelles is with the nature conservancy, which owns 25,000 acres of land across Louisiana, but this is one of the few that has public access.

“But most of our preserves for various reasons are not open to the public; either because there are access issues or because we’re protecting a rare sensitive natural community,” Degravelles said.

In the center of the Mary Ann Brown preserve, you find a pond and a gazebo, and there’s a large open recreational field and a covered picnic pavilion.

“We host boy scouts, church groups, all sorts of groups that are trying to get kids to reconnect with nature,” Degravelle said.

A couple of hundred years ago, there was an artist, John James Audubon, who was roaming across America painting hundreds of portraits of birds of America. He had a connection to this area.

“He absolutely did. He lived at Oakley Plantation right down the road. It’s very possible that Audubon roamed through this very spot we’re standing on. He certainly, painted a number of his famous paintings from birds that he captured and killed, and just nearby here,” said Degravelles.

There are just enough ups and downs to make the trail interesting, as it winds its way over ravines and small streams. The entire trail is shaded by tall pines, and hardwood woods. It’s a comfortable natural walk through the woods, and you will find benches along the trail that beckon you to take a break and just sit quietly and observe nature.

“The more you slow down, the more you will see, the more you will, you’ll observe, and there are, I call ‘em lots of different layers to nature. From the very small to the scale of the canopy in the entire landscape,” Degravelles added.

It’s the kind of hike that leaves you refreshed after spending an hour or two immersed in the natural beauty of this area.

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