“This great trail, located in Central Louisiana, is considered the longest contiguous trail in the state!
— James Bolen
No ORV or equestrian traffic is allowed on this trail.
Birding — Fall Colors — Lake — River/Creek — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife — Commonly Backpacked
If you are starting at the Valentine Lake end (as mapped), the trail starts with rolling hills and pines. You'll pass near a fire tower built in the 1930s. The first major creek you'll cross (Valentine Creek) doesn't present much of an issue, but there is a pretty good incline on the opposite side. After the creek, expect more rolling hills as the trail heads deep down into several smaller creek areas and the Wild Azalea Seep.
Around mile 7.5, there is a great camping spot by Lamotte Creek where a well-constructed bridge aids your passage.
Around mile 9, you'll come across the Evangeline Primitive Camp, which has a bathroom but no running water. From here, the trail heads eastward then southwestward, running parallel to Boggy Bayou. The trail becomes hilly again around the 11-mile mark until you reach Castor Creek Scenic Area. This lower area has several creek crossings, where some have bridges, but others may require you get your feet wet.
From mile 13 to 19.5, the terrain is strenuous because of creek crossings, rugged terrain, and frequent hill climbing. From this point, the next 5.5 miles follow more rolling hills, although this time with less creek crossings. This area has some blown-down trees from a tornado in 2016.
The last 1.7 miles are pretty much a road hike to the southern terminus parking area in Woodworth.
There are six vegetation communities found along the trail: bottomland hardwoods, upland hardwoods, mixed pinioned hardwoods, pure pine, bogs, and natural open spaces. There have been sightings of wild horses, bald eagles, boars, deer, and red-cockaded woodpeckers.
The Castor Creek Area is at the junction of Brushy Creek and Castor Creek that features a variety of large loblolly pine, gum, ash, beech, magnolia, and bald cypress trees.
The area known as the "Wild Azalea Seep" is noted for the unique plants it supports. This is an excellent example of how an acid seep can be home to several species of orchids and the only known population of bog moss west of the Mississippi River.