Sunday morning I woke up and looked outside. It took me about 5 minutes to commit to going on a hike. I looked at the weather report to make sure it was going to be nice, packed up a picnic lunch and Ashok’s essentials and hit the road. It felt like it had been an eternity since I had set foot on a trail, and I wasn’t going to miss it. There was a park in Franklinton LA that I’d been eyeing for over a year, and Sunday was the day she was going to be explored. Last year I wanted to do a trail run, and I had searched the internet to find trail running organizations and races in the deep south. I found a group called Q50 that hosts trail races all over the world, and one of their races was in Bogue Chitto State Park. I never did sign up for it, but I’ve been wanting to explore that park to see why it would be a great place for a trail race.
On the way, I saw a sign for a Global Wildlife Center. As I passed by, I saw giraffes, some type of hoofstock and zebras. Now, I knew that Louisiana didn’t have any animals like that, and I’d never even heard of such a place out in backwoods Louisiana. I drove up as my dog looked out the window with her ears perked up. She turned her head sideways as she watched the kangaroos hopping around. The center is an attraction where you can go on a guided tour, and even feed the animals. It was too warm to leave my dog in the car, so I couldn’t hang out there. Besides, I’ve been to wild animal parks in San Diego that were much bigger and more exotic, so I don’t know how much I would have liked it. But, I thought it was really cool that something like this existed in this area for kids who might never get to travel to exotic places.
We took off to Bogue Chitto and paid our $2 entrance fee. Ashok has been needing a job lately, so I brought her doggie backpack, and we both carried our own stuff. It was a beautiful sunny day, and we took a hike on a 5 mile loop called the Gorge Run Trail at the State Park. I’ll post pictures so you can see what it’s like. Of course, it’s winter, so there was not much foliage to speak of, but it was pretty just the same. The river was high, the sun was out, and the trail was well-maintained and easy to hike. The loop circles a gorge comprised of red clay. Wooden boardwalks and stairs are built at the trailhead so you can easily walk down into the gorge. The rest of the trail is gravel except for a few areas where it turns to sand or dirt. It would be really easy to mountain bike as there are not a lot of roots to navigate, and I’ll definitely bring my bike next time. It was pretty flat with just a few hills to test out my gluteus maximus, but I hiked about 6 miles. It was a long walk on a beautiful day.
I stopped to eat my peanut butter and banana sandwich by a pond where a family was fishing. After I was done, we walked around the back of the pond, and this is where the Bogue Chitto River intersected the park. It was sandy around the river, and there was a beautiful sand bank on the other side. I made a mental note to come back here and bring my kayak so I could float down this river. That bank would be a great place to lay out and get some sun after paddling all day. After we passed the river, the trail meandered through some swampland where the water was rushing through in small streams. I ran into a couple of families in this area out enjoying each other and the sunshine. All in all, I think we ran into about 10 people on the trail the entire day. It wasn’t crowded by any stretch of the imagination.
On the way home, I drove through the campground and picked out a couple of nice spots to camp on a future visit. It’s a lovely little park. There’s an outfitter close by where visitors can rent canoes and kayaks. I can see where it would be a great weekend destination to camp out under the stars, swim in the river, kayak and ride bikes. And, it’s not too far from home. I actually even wondered if I could drive to work from there if I wanted to take a little longer weekend. It looked like all of the buildings, including the bathhouses were new.
Enjoy the pics. If you didn’t get to enjoy the sunshine, I hope you can enjoy a taste of it here.