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Creole Nature Trail

Basics
Length:
180 miles (289 km)
Time:
4 1/2 hours to drive or 2 days to visit the Byway
Fees:
The ferry costs $1 per car to ride from Cameron to Holly Beach.

Description

Join in an authentic Louisiana Festival or capture alligators with your camera. When you travel the Creole Nature Trail, you will get an up-close and personal view of Louisiana's unique environment. The Creole Nature Trail travels through thousands of acres of untouched wetlands that reflect an area blessed with some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. During the summer, between the country homesteads, you'll see pine trees, cattle, and fields of rice and soybeans. In the spring, the water lilies and blossoming water hyacinth growing in the marsh are a photographer's paradise.

If you like to photograph or hunt wildlife, the Trail takes you to three different wildlife refuges and a bird sanctuary. See alligators, birds, wildflowers, gulf beaches, and all kinds of southwest Louisiana wildlife in this area. If you aren't a duck hunter, you may like to try your hand at a little Louisiana fishing. The combination of fresh and saltwater areas provides a unique habitat for many of the plants and creatures that live along the Byway.

For surf fishing, crabbing, and shrimping, the Louisiana coastline can be a lot of fun. In Calcasieu and Cameron parishes, you have access to boat launches, campgrounds, hunting services, recreational facilities, swimming areas, bird-watching, and cabins. At Lake Charles, you can swim or sunbathe on the beach, launch a boat at a nearby facility, or try your luck with Las Vegas-style gaming and horse racing.

Traveling the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, you will be enchanted by the entwining ecosystems of the coastland and the marshland. So drive the Trail through Louisiana's very own outback and discover the culture, nature, and history awaiting you there.

Points of Interest

Points of Interest Along The Way

Brimstone Historical Museum and Tourist Information Center (LA)

This museum was established in 1976 to commemorate the development of the Frasch process of mining, which launched the American sulfur industry. Exhibits include a one-ton block of sulfur, display of the Frasch process and a short color movie explaining it and its importance to the industry. Other permanent exhibits include a diorama of Southwest Louisiana wildlife, a collection of antique medical instruments, photos of the community during its sulfur-mining days and other memorabilia of the period.

The museum itself is housed in the old depot of the Southern Pacific Railroad, which was moved from Frasch Park to its current location, 900 South Huntington, in early 2003.

Directions

The Information Center is located at 800 Picard Rd. in Sulphur, LA.

Cameron (LA)

Long recognized for its fishing industry, with its menhadenplant, shrimp houses, and easy access to the Gulf for sportfishing, Cameron Parish has had the distinction of being ranked asthe leading fishing port in the nation for several years. Menhaden,commonly called the pogey fish, is a small, oily fish that is muchsought after. After processing, the oil is extracted and used incosmetics, paints, medicine and even in margarine. The meal thatremains after the oil is extracted is used in poultry, livestock,and swine feed. The bone meal is used for fertilizer.

The town of Cameron is the parish seat of government and home ofthe Cameron Fur and Wildlife Festival. Nicknamed "The Oldest andColdest Festival in the State," a range of activities such asoyster shucking, duck calling, nutria and muskrat skinningcontests, arts and crafts displays, beauty contests and a paradeattract thousands of people each January.

Directions

On Highway 27/82

Cameron Ferry (LA)

A large public ferry, the Cameron ferry crosses the Calcasieu Ship Channel, a deep-water channel leading to Lake Charles, before leading into the town of Cameron. Often porpoises and pelicans playing among the waves can be spotted from the decks. Overlooking the Gulf waters, shrimp and recreational boats dot the horizon, veering around offshore oil production.

Directions

Located at Cameron near the western terminus of the Creole Nature Trail, LA-82.

Cameron Jetties (LA)

The Cameron Jetties, a wall of large, flat rocks extending outinto the Gulf on each side of the Calcasieu Ship Channel, make anideal place for photo enthusiasts to watch the ships passing by andto view spectacular sunsets. The jetties were built to control thebuild-up of silt in the river channel. A free public boat launchprovides quick and easy access to either the Gulf of Mexico orCalcasieu Lake, and the newly completed Cameron Parish Fishing Pierand RV Park makes this a must-see area for the outdoorsman.

Directions

2 miles south of Cameron

Cameron Parish Courthouse (LA)

The Cameron Parish Courthouse is one of only a few structuresthat survived Hurricane Audrey in 1957. The storm, which devastatedthe parish when it struck in the early morning hours on June 27th,killed more than 500 residents. The winds, which reached 150 milesper hour, created a tidal wave so high that debris was left hangingfrom the overhead power line. Each year the anniversary of thestorm is observed with a local holiday.

Directions

Cameron, Louisiana

Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge (LA)

The visitor center at Cameron Prairie opened its doors to the public in 1994. Consisting of 9,621 acres of fresh-water marsh and coastal prairie, the refuge was previously owned by companies that constructed levees and dikes for controlling water levels in their rice fields. When rice farming became unprofitable, they sold their properties for a refuge, which had in the meantime been identified as being crucial to meeting goals set by the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, an international agreement to restore lost wetland habitats.

Included among its interpretive exhibits are a diorama, which describes the four types of marsh found in Louisiana, and Tante Marie, an animated exhibit that discusses life on the refuge from her perch in a pirogue, a narrow, flat-bottomed, hand-made version of the canoe.

Directions

Located directly on the Creole Nature Trail on LA-27, 60 miles north from the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge.

Cantonment Atkinson Fort Site and Louisiana Peace Memorial (LA)

Cantonment Atkinson, a fort built in 1829, was established on this site to control illicit trade coming up the Calcasieu River from the Gulf of Mexico. The fort was abandoned in 1832 and the Bilbo Cemetery established here in 1840. Some of the bricks used to form the tombs came from the old fort.

The nearby Louisiana Peace Memorial was built as a memorial to Louisiana servicemen who served in Vietnam. It is said to be the largest birdhouse in the world, with a 120-foot tower supporting 46 aluminum birdhouses that house more than 5,000 purple martins.

Directions

The site is located in Lake Charles on North Lakeshore Drive.

Cheniers (LA)

Along the Creole Nature Trail are wooded, sandy ridges thatformed thousands of years ago through a combination of siltdeposits from shifting river deltas and water currents from theGulf of Mexico that carried and trapped these deposits, isolatingstrips of sandy beaches. Over time, these isolated or "stranded"beaches continued to build up and become ridges. The results arethese cheniers which, because of their elevation above sea level,support the growth of hardwood trees such as live oaks. The word"chenier" is actually French for "oak tree."

The highest cheniers are not more than 10 feet above sea level,but this critical extra height makes settlement possible. Besideshunting and fishing, many residents make their living raisingcattle. The cattle are allowed to graze in the marsh during thewinter when the insects are few and then moved to the top of theridge during the summer when insects fill the marsh.

Directions

Along Highway 82

El Nuevo Constante (LA)

The wreckage of El Neuvo Constante, loaded with gold and cargo when it sank in the early 1800s, was found in 1979 off the coast of the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge. Replicas of artifacts from this noted archaeological site are kept in the refuge's administrative offices.

Directions

Off the coast of the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge

Hackberry (LA)

Seafood provides the basis for a major industry for this part ofLouisiana's Outback, which is evident in Hackberry, withshrimp and crab houses lining the byway.

The importance of the waterways to this area is obvious astravelers pass through town. Signs advertising seafood, crab bait,cast nets, hunting and fishing supplies and local guide servicesare common sights. Because of the abundance of natural resources,many commercial crabbers, shrimpers, trappers and fishermen makeHackberry their home.

Directions

On Louisiana Highway 27, 14 miles from Sulphur.

Details

Length:
180 miles (289 km)
Time:
4 1/2 hours to drive or 2 days to visit the Byway
Main Roads:
LA-27 S and LA-82 E
Fees:
The ferry costs $1 per car to ride from Cameron to Holly Beach.

Map + Directions

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