Editor’s note: As I’ve been preoccupied, writer Whitney Mackman has still been out there adventuring with the best. Here’s another one of her posts.
Tucked between Planter’s Canal, Donner Canal, and the Mississippi River, this wide, lush roller coaster trail through a coastal forest ecosystem transports you to another world. Dodge raccoons and stare a little too long at trees engulfing other trees. And, if you look hard enough through the tangle of overgrowth at the end of the trail (5.5 miles), you will discover 10 WWII Ammunition Bunkers emerging from the wetlands. They are open and accessible, if you have a machete and don’t mind avoiding banana spiders at certain times of year.
Best advice: Keep your head up! Most of the banana spiders were hanging just out of reach, but look for branches that stretch partway across the trail toward another – these seem to be their favorite. They are HUGE, yellow, and purple, you will see them. I biked holding a giant stick in front of me, but that felt a little extreme. When the trail seems too overgrown to continue and you see the frame of what used to be a trail sign, keep your eyes peeled for the concrete bunkers with large green doors on the very overgrown Naval Ammunition Depot Loop.
It’s pretty easy to get to Woodlands Trail and Park from New Orleans: Cross over to the West Bank, exit and merge onto General de Gaulle. Take that for 4 miles and don’t panic when the street turns into a huge bridge that looks like the end of the world. Go over it (Intracoastal waterway) and once you get down, hang a left and then take your first sharp left (almost a u-turn) onto Herbert Blvd.
Once on F. Edward Herbert Blvd, you will pass an abandoned complex on your left (I explored one building of this government complex after my bike adventure, but it was getting dark and creepy). Then you will cross a small bridge (Planter’s Canal) and make an immediate left before the animal shelter to Woodland Trails (if you hit baseball fields, you missed it). Trailhead is at the end of the road. Very easy to follow and incredibly well marked, choose the equestrian or the hiking trail. It’s very overgrown in places but doable, since the bike elevates you a bit.
The address of Woodlands Trail and Park is 449 F. Edward Hebert Blvd, Belle Chasse Louisiana.
Editor’s note: Whitney Mackman brings us to a far corner of the bayou in this next post. Enjoy.
Blind River Chapel Paddle
Nestled along the bank of the Blind River and accessible only by boat, Our Lady of Blind River Chapel welcomes all visitors. Built in 1983 by Martha Deroche, the daughter of a Cajun faith healer, this chapel is definitely an experience. Dated and typical pictures of Jesus in various scenes adorn every inch of wall space and numerous religious statues line the foot of the altar. The altar is a spectacular statue of the Virgin Mary housed in a huge, hollowed Cypress trunk – complimented by the simple Cypress pews and the flicker of candlelight.
This was not a religious pilgrimage by any means, and please don’t think you must be Catholic to visit this chapel. No matter what you believe, Deroche “welcomes and offers her prayers and blessing to all who come.” Regardless, visiting a place a community volunteered to build out of love, faith, and friendship is kind of spiritual in its own way.
If that is not enough, the chapel is rumored to have performed miracles and there is a giant text Bible with PICTURES (!!), which is worth the trip if you’ve never seen one.
This paddle is possible from the St. James Parish Boat Launch just off the 61 and the Blind River crossing. From there, the trip is approximately ten miles roundtrip. If you want a shorter, four-mile trip, there is a “secret” (to anyone without googlemaps maybe) and somewhat ridiculous launch off the I-10 where it crosses the Blind River. I put in under the I-10 after chatting with some animated locals. We were the only kayaks in sight, dwarfed by the huge Cypress trees and passing motorboats. I didn’t see much wildlife besides a baby alligator next to the Chapel and some jumping fish, but it was getting stormy out. The fishing camps and hurricane damage along the banks provided enough intrigue and sometimes the trees and lily pads hinted of autumn.
More info on Blind River Chapel: http://www.cajunimages.com/Pages/blind%20river%20chapel.htm
A. Our Lady of Blind River Chapel
B. St. James Parish Boat Launch
Editor’s note: Guest writer Whitney Mackman is on a roll with this incredible find. I had no idea this existed.
The Last of its Kind in New Orleans: Holt Cemetery
Off the beaten path and almost impossible to see from City Park Ave, Holt Cemetery offers an afternoon of exploration and relaxation. Tucked away on what looks like Delgado’s campus (or what Delgado hoped would becomes its campus), this cemetery is unmanned, unkempt, and totally awesome (It might be manned during the week. We went on Sunday and the sign read “closed Sunday,” but the gate was open.) Every cemetery I’ve seen in this city uses above-ground burial except Holt. You won’t find elaborate and ornate tombs here. This is more of a graveyard – a graveyard with homemade headstones strewn amongst dramatic oaks wearing cloaks of Spanish moss. My friend and I explored for more than an hour as the Sunday thunder cracked and a random whistle echoed from a Delgado sports game. We apologized to the spirits as we leapt between graves, even though it was nearly impossible to miss one.
I’ve had the unique pleasure of snorkeling the Mississippi River. Today, we had to do a salvage dive in the Pontch to recover some lost treasure.
I know it’s been a minute, but NOadventure has stuff on the burner. In the meantime, everyone should go to this to see Bennet get wrecked.
Summer is almost done. Make it count. Have you even been submerged underwater at all? If not, get wet.
- baton rouge
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- how to
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