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.