DescriptionKisatchie National Forest extends across the central and northern parts of the state. The terrain of Louisiana's only national forest, comprised of six districts and more than 600,000 acres, varies from swamps of hardwood and cypress trees draped with Spanish moss to sandstone hills covered with longleaf pine. Farming and lumbering in the early 1900s left much of this land unproductive, but most of the area revived after the forest's establishment in 1930.
The forest offers more than 40 developed recreation areas. Most are open all year; swimming sites are open seasonally. The 31-mile Wild Azalea National Recreation Trail, near Alexandria off FR 273, offers floral displays in spring and brilliant colors in fall. Castor Creek Scenic Area, reached on foot from the Wild Azalea Trail, has many old, moss-covered hardwoods.
Near Minden the 8-mile Sugar Cane National Recreation Trail mixes history, nature and lakeside scenery as it winds across rolling hills. Among the many other trails within the forest is the 10-mile Big Branch Trail near Leesville. Kisatchie Hills Wilderness Area, also known as Louisiana's Little Grand Canyon, is an area of mesas, cliffs and canyons.
The forest can be enjoyed by car as well as by foot. The 17-mile Longleaf Scenic Byway, beginning at the junction of FR 337 and SR 117 and ending on SR 119, winds through some of Louisiana's most rugged forest land.
Kisatchie Bayou, off FR 366, offers 6 miles of canoe routes and probably the best fishing in the district. Saline Bayou, a national scenic river off FR 513, is good for wildlife viewing and can be canoed for 20 miles. Edible wild foods in Kisatchie include huckleberries, blackberries, elderberries and mayhaw fruit.
Ranger offices for the various districts are in Natchitoches, Leesville, Alexandria, Homer, Winnfield and Bentley. For further information contact the Supervisor, Kisatchie National Forest, 2500 Shreveport Hwy., Pineville, LA 71360. The office is open Mon.-Fri. 8-4:30; closed federal holidays; phone (318) 473-7160.