Backbone Trail 7.6 miles.
This is Louisiana's only designated Wilderness Area and current
forest service management is exceptionally hiker friendly, with
new signs and ongoing trail maintenance. Primitive
campgrounds abound, my personal favorite being on the bluffs
overlooking Kisatchie Bayou (Kisatchie Bayou Campground is
a treat unto itself), but they have NO WATER.
This trail is administered by Forest Service office in
Natchitoches. This area historically considered an outlaw
This is a very flexible trail. It is a nice trail that can be an easy
weekend trip, a day hike, or hiked in combination with the
Caroline Dormon Trail (11.7 miles). The Backbone Trail can
also be hiked as a loop with a pretty 2.5 mile road walk.
Immediately, across the street from the south trail head of the
Backbone Trail is a large parking area which is also the north
trail head of the Caroline Dormon Trail.
Starting from the north trail head the BBT is mostly along an old
road bed. The trail is clay based but parts of it are very sandy.
Within 1.5 miles you come to large sandstones and overlooks,
the woods are mostly pine and the trail can be very hot at times
with little shade. Horses have rutted parts of this section and it
is difficult to hike in the rain. There is very little water the first 4
miles. At about 2 miles there is a spur trail, the High Ridge Trail,
which veers off to the left. The BBT trail continues to the right.
Watch for this as it is not well marked.
After about 4 miles, you head up a hill to the tallest overlook on
the trail. There are several established campsites here all along
the ridge. This is a very nice and a good place to camp or have
lunch. Continuing on, just below the hill is Bayou Cypre, the
only source of water nearby. It is a clear, flowing stream and is
on the left behind a stand of trees. There is a very faint, old
road trace leading to a nice campsite in a bend of the bayou just
at the bottom of the hill.
The last several miles of the trail are spent climbing up and
down hills, into and out of the several drains formed by Bayou
Cypre. Some have water all year, most do not. The hills may
be considered moderate. The terrain is different than anything
else in LA. You go down a hill, across a drain or small creek,
up a hill. Some of the larger drains have created swampy
areas. There are lots of rocks on tops of some of the hills. It is
very interesting. Eventually the trailhead to the Turpentine Hill
Trail on the left, BBT continues right.
Hiking/Horses. No mechanization allowed. This is a very
popular hunting area.
No day use or backcountry permits required.
I49 to exit #119 onto La HWY 119 (approx 30 mins north of
Alex). West on 119 for 7 miles. Turn right onto Longleaf Vista
for approximately 5 miles. South trail head parking is on the left.
2.5 more miles and north trail head parking in on the right just
after the “Kisatchie Wilderness” sign.
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