Kayaking in Louisiana is a unique experience that allows you to explore diverse wetland habitats including thick swamps and cypress forests to bayous and miles of Gulf coastline. Opportunities abound for those willing to paddle in alligator land and surround themselves with a truly wild experience. The Pelican State is one of the most popular states for kayaking, birding, and fishing.

There are many reasons to love kayaking in Louisiana. The state has over 40,000 miles of waterways, more than any other state in the US. This provides ample opportunity for paddlers of all levels to find a suitable trail. In addition, the mild climate means that you can paddle year-round in most parts of the state.

Easy Kayaking Spots in Louisiana

Louisiana has tons of slow-moving waters perfect for novice paddlers. Bayous scatter the state’s landscape giving paddlers slow-moving water through wetlands filled with wildlife such as alligators and an immense amount of birds.

Bayou St. John, LA

This could be one of the only areas where you can paddle down a naturally formed bayou in the heart of a city. You’ll find historic mansions and structures as you float over the lake, and you’ll get a unique perspective of New Orleans. Paddling is simple, and it will be a fun outing for families with children. Water levels are mostly affected by rainfall, and crossing under bridges might be difficult when the water level is high. Along both banks of the bayou, the short route passes through a historic residential district. 

Where to launch:

Whiskey Chitto Creek, LA

Whiskey Chitto Creek, also known as Ouiska Chitto, is a great place to learn to kayak. The river is characterized by sandy beaches and a softly running stream with white quartz sandbars. The flowing river is home to a diverse range of Louisiana wildlife species, including deer, raccoons, and turkey, as well as livestock grazing near the coast. The river has a gentle current that can be paddled in either direction.

Where to launch:

Lake Charles, LA

Lake Charles is more of a tourist destination since it has neighboring golf courses and casinos for those who are interested. More importantly, it rarely sees kayak traffic and is an excellent fishing spot, with both saltwater and freshwater species living in and around the lake.  If you like fishing and kayaking but haven’t tried combining the two yet, Lake Charles is the place to do it.

Where to launch:

Bayou Bartholomew, LA

Bayou Bartholomew is the world’s longest bayou, stretching 364 miles between Arkansas and Louisiana in the United States. It is the second most diverse stream in North America, with over 100 aquatic species. Water levels on Bayou Bartholomew, like all southern rivers, can fluctuate, affecting water speed, safety, and usability. Any route on Bayou Bartholomew may be considered “simple,” but be aware of rapidly rising waters after heavy rain.

Where to launch:

Difficult and Technical Kayaking in Louisiana

Lousiana is a major waterway connecting the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. The amount of water that goes through the state means rapids! In the Gulf experienced paddlers should be mindful of weather conditions before going out. 

Toro Bayou

Toro Bayou is notable for its clean waters and remote location. The river is reliant on rainfall and is only suitable for running in the spring or immediately following rains when water levels are enough. When water levels reach 25%, the river becomes runnable, and when they reach 70%, the river is at its best. The river should not be paddled when the water level exceeds 90% since paddling becomes risky. Because there are many rocky falls and swift currents, only experienced paddlers should undertake various sections of this bayou.

Where to launch:

Lake Pontchartrain

At 630 square miles, Lake Pontchartrain is Louisiana’s largest inland body of water. It is an estuary, not a lake, with connections to the Gulf of Mexico, rivers, and bayous . Do remember that it’s a large but shallow lake – conditions do change quickly.  The sensation of the water can be altered by even modest changes in the weather. The wind and waves on the lake can be rather strong at times. The greatest days to kayak are when the wind is off the shore, and you should plan on paddling out and back in.

Where to launch:

Tensas River

The Tensas River, also known as Tensas Bayou in its upper sections, originates in East Carroll Parish in the state’s northeast corner and flows roughly southwest for 177 miles, roughly parallel to the Mississippi River. The full-day paddle has a moderate difficulty rating. This trip’s duration will make it a demanding day trip for any paddler. Be extremely cautious in swift water conditions, such as after heavy rain or when the river is high. On any river, flash flooding is a remote possibility, although numerous healthy wetlands buffer the water levels on a part of the Tensas.

Where to launch:

Poverty Point Reservoir State Park

Poverty Point Reservoir State Park provides a gorgeous backdrop for waterfowl migration in spring and fall, as well as a range of water sports. Wind can make paddling difficult, as it can on many vast bodies of water. Consider paddling in a sea kayak or paddling early or late in the day when the circumstances are more favorable.

Where to launch:

National / State Park Kayaking Spots near Louisiana

Louisiana has a great state park system with many just out of New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Those seeking a quintessential swamplands experience will enjoy the nation’s largest swamp, Atchafalaya Basin.

Bogue Chitto State Park

Bogue Chitto State Park is a recent addition to the Louisiana State Park system. Located in southeast Louisiana, the state park offers tubing, kayaking, fishing, equestrian riding, and a range of overnight accommodations. The slow-moving river, which flows through surprising valleys and past pebble-strewn natural beaches, is ideal for a day of floating with the family.

Where to launch:

Tickfaw State Park

Tickfaw State Park, located 7 miles west of Springfield in Livingston Parish is one of Louisiana’s most popular state parks because of its natural setting, recreation possibilities, and closeness to New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Boating is very popular on Tickfaw. Within the park, there are boat and canoe launching, and largemouth bass fishing is a popular activity. Canoeists are constantly on the lookout for alligators and turtles hiding behind the canopy of trees that provide plenty of shade.

Where to launch: 

Lake Fausse Pointe State Park

The Atchafalaya Basin is the United States’ largest swamp, supplying fresh water to a broad area of south Louisiana. Lake Fausse Pointe State Park sits right in the center of it, providing a superb introduction to the region’s lush wetlands. There are numerous options for fishing, boating, and canoeing. Visitors can reach the labyrinth of canals that wind through the Basin via a boat launch. A boat dock with rentals is part of the visitor center complex, and three hiking routes and a canoe trail provide an “up close” view of the area’s plant and wildlife.

Where to launch:

Bayou Segnette State Park

The best of everything can be found at Bayou Segnette State Park. A variety of recreational opportunities await visitors of all ages just a fifteen-minute drive across the Mississippi River from New Orleans, including boating, fishing, camping, canoeing, hiking, picnicking, playgrounds, and, of course, swimming in the wave pool, as well as an ecosystem with plants, trees, and wildlife from both swamps and marshland. The bayou can be explored by boaters, whether motorized or self-propelled by kayak.

Where to launch:

Recommended Kayaking Tours in Louisiana

Manchac Swamp Kayak Small-Group Tour 

A small-group kayaking tour of the Manchac and Maurepas marshes takes you beyond New Orleans to the wilds of the Louisiana bayous. Climb into a tandem kayak and explore a lush environment of cypress forests and wildlife-rich marshes. You don’t need any prior kayaking expertise because a guide will teach you everything you need to know to enjoy this Southern-style trip. Excellent for both novice and experienced kayakers. 

Historical Scenic Water Trail Kayak Tour of St. Tammany Parish

This 2-hour tour will cruise to Lake Pontchartrain. Along the water trail, you’ll see wildlife, including gators, turtles, birds, and fish. The tour passes through three diverse landscapes on our way to Lake Pontchartrain: a pine forest, a cypress swamp, and a salt marsh. If the tide is low and the waters are calm when we arrive at Lake Pontchartrain’s mouth, we can wade in the water or stop for lunch, snacks, and water.

Need to Know for  Louisiana

Louisiana is well known for its delicious food, interesting history, and beautiful scenery. Tourists come from all over to experience the unique culture and atmosphere of this southern state. Their culinary scene includes foods like gumbo, jambalaya, and beignets. Music is also a big part of the culture here – think zydeco and Jazz. The state is also home to many interesting historical landmarks, such as the French Quarter in New Orleans. Notable events include Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, and the Crawfish Festival. Of course, no trip to Louisiana would be complete without taking a scenic boat ride down one of its many rivers. 

When to Visit Louisiana

The months of February to May are ideal for visiting New Orleans since the weather is pleasant and the festivities are in full flow. If you don’t want to be bothered by Mardi Gras and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, travel in December or January, when the city is quiet and you won’t have to book a hotel a year in advance.

Weather in Louisiana

Long, hot, humid summers and short, mild winters characterize Louisiana’s humid subtropical climate. Precipitation is common throughout the year, with the summer being slightly wetter than the rest. With distance from the Gulf of Mexico, rainfall and humidity decrease, while daily temperature variations increase.

In the summer, the extreme maximum temperature is much warmer in the north than in the south. In northern Louisiana, the temperatures can sometimes reach near 105 °F in the summer. Snow is uncommon, however it does fall in some sections of the state during the winter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.