Pointe Coupee revamps historical bike/hike trail

NEW ROADS, LA (WAFB) - False River is not the only feature Pointe Coupee is hoping will draw people to their parish. Signs for a 10 mile bike or hike trail are posted down LA 1, to get visitors to check out the history through New Roads, but those who came up with the idea were surprised to learn, there is already a trail in place.

Riverlake, a home on LA 1, has been around for more than 130 years, but few people know Julien Poydras lived there. It's those small tidbits that some are hoping people will learn, if they take the time to stop along a trail there.

"We talked about putting a bike trail along False River because of the beautiful scenery and historical homes and other buildings along that stretch of highway," said Melanie Bueche, President of the Pointe Coupee Police Jury.

She says when she approached the state about making a bike/hike trail, she found out there already was one.

"It had been established in 1987, as an Eagle Scout project of Kevin Cicero," Bueche said.

Kevin Cicero researched historical homes in New Roads and developed the False River Historical Trail Hike or Bicycle Tour, but because the old signs were removed years ago, most people had no idea it existed.

"You got Julian Poydras, Earnest Gaines, the inspiration of Miss Jane Pittman," said Tony Clayton, who donated funds for the new signage.

Leaders in the community added a few new sites to the original trail and started promoting it. For example, the tree in Bueche's front yard is the first stop on the tour.

"I'd look out my window and there was this man with a beret and people with cameras following him. And he was pointing in to the tree," Bueche said describing her first encounter with author Earnest Gaines.

Gaines wrote the Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman inspired by the old tree in Bueche's yard. As a child he would walk the stretch of highway to get to and from the store, and when he was tired he would rest under the tree. When the movie was filmed, Cicely Tyson - who played Miss Jane Pittman, sat under the same tree.

There are more than a dozen homes, a museum, plus a pecan factory on the trail as well.

"I've had people walk in my office in RV's from Illinois or Pennsylvania and say 'I've been to the courthouse, to Julien Poydras school - what else can I do?'" said Jeanie Andre, the Director of Pointe Coupee Parish Tourism.

Now Andre says she can hand visitors a brochure and send them on the tour.

"The historical perspective of what Pointe Coupee brings is just incredible," said Clayton.

The map for the tour can be found on the Pointe Coupee Parish tourism website: http://www.pctourism.org/area_attractions_12.html

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