Paddle Through the Marsh
Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge is 15,000 acres of pine flatwoods and coastal marsh. This diverse habitat is home to hundreds of bird species, including the bald eagles and the rare red-cockaded woodpecker. Three-hour guided canoe tours on Bayou Lacombe begin at 9 am. Spring tour dates are March 7, 21, and 28. Also offered is the Junior Ranger Spring Break Day Camp for kids ages 8 to 10 held April, 13 through April 17. Campers enjoy outdoor activities such as canoeing, fishing, wildlife observation, hiking, and habitat restoration projects. For information, please visit: fws.gov/refuge/Big_Branch_Marsh.
Roam the Mandeville Lakefront
Cycle or walk the seawall paths under moss-hung oak trees and check out two playgrounds located on the east and west ends. Kids fly high on the swing-sets near the intersection of Lakeshore Drive and Carroll Street, and restaurants, shopping and even a candy store are in walking distance.
Stroll or Cycle the Tammany Trace
The 31-mile path offers a scenic path through St. Tammany Parish with trailheads in Covington, Abita Springs, Mandeville, Lacombe and Slidell. Highlights include playgrounds at the Abita Springs and Koop Drive trailheads, a drawbridge over Bayou Lacombe and splash pads at the Mandeville and Abita Springs trailheads. Bike rentals are available in Covington and Mandeville.
Along with the Abita and Mandeville trailhead locations, interactive water features are located at the Pearl River Water Park at James Lavigne Park, Heritage Park in Slidell, Chappapeela Sports Park in Hammond, at the East Lakefront Park in Mandeville, and at Fontainebleau State Park.
Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville
This historic park offers 2,800 acres with beautiful cabins built over Lake Pontchartrain, more than 300 campsites, nature trails, lodge, sandy beach, playground, and the ruins of an 1829 sugar mill situated among towering oaks. Visit the sandy beach and shallow Lake Pontchartrain swimming area and cook out on the nearby barbecue grills. Join a guided hike and learn about the history and features of the park on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 10 am, and on Fridays and Saturdays at 1 pm. The Visitor Center is open from 9 am to 5:30 pm Saturday through Wednesday. For more information, call 985-624-4443.
Bogue Chitto State Park in Franklinton
Visitors experience diverse natural habitats on the scenic Bogue Chitto River—one of most traveled rivers in Louisiana by canoe, kayak and tubing enthusiasts. The 1,786-acre site includes small streams, cypress tupelo swamps, a hardwood forest and a rolling landscape that makes for great hiking trips. Overnight visitors can choose from tent and RV camping to cabins overlooking the bluffs. The park also offers a group camp and a conference room. 14 miles of equestrian trails wind through interesting topography with the trailhead located near Fricke’s Cave. 11 stocked lakes offer a variety of freshwater fish like bass, perch, brim, and catfish. Enjoy the water playground and picnic at numerous pavilions throughout the park.