MANDEVILLE, La. (WAFB) – As the weather begins to warm up in the coming weeks, you might be ready to get outside and one of the most popular parks in the state is located less than a New Orleans time.
It’s no surprise that Louisiana’s busiest state park is located between its two largest metropolitan areas – New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Fountainbleau State Park, near Mandeville, sits on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. Its sandy beach, fishing pier and nature walks make it a great getaway.
“It’s close to town,” said Nick Lanson, a hiker. “It’s so accessible. It’s beautiful. We have birds right now and probably have alligators here.
And Fountainbleau’s trails take you from thick forest to a long boardwalk, passing through a vast lakeside salt marsh. In Fountainbleau, you can also take a trip on the water in a kayak or canoe rental. And when you do that, you get an entirely different view of the bayous and the landscape.
“We get a lot of alligators,” said Jeff Bordelon, owner of Bayou Adventures, which offers canoe and kayak rentals next to the park.
“What makes it special is how authentic and raw the paddle is. Everything to our right is part of Fountainbleau State Park, then everything to our left here is part of the Big Branch National Wildlife Refuge,” Bordelon added.
If your preferred mode of transportation is a two-wheeler, the 28-mile Tammany Trace Bike Trail runs through the park.
“It’s very pretty; lots of overhanging canopy, so you go through a tunnel of trees and vegetation,” said biker Jeff Gephart.
“It’s very pretty; lots of overhanging canopy, so you go through a tunnel of trees and vegetation,” said Jeff Gephart, a biker. Many of them with full hookups for campers and campsites And if you don’t have one, Fountainbleau is one of the first state parks to offer glamping, which includes a tent, comfy bed, picnic table, and fire pit.
“I think this is a great opportunity for people who don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on camping gear and still want the experience,” said camp host Patrick McPike.
Fountainbleau has a history dating back to the early years of New Orleans and up to 2,500 years ago when this area was home to native people.
“They found an overwhelming amount of pottery,” said Stephanie Huber of Fountainebleau State Park. “It was 47,000 pottery fragments that were between the two piles.
French Creole nobleman Bernard Demarigny was developing land beyond the French Quarter of New Orleans. He owned a plantation in Fountainbleau.
“Who used this area to make it a plantation and the sugar mill here where they processed the sugar harvest,” said Fouuad Harb, park manager.
You can see the ruins of the Demarigny sugar factory built nearly 200 years ago. One of my favorite things about this state park is the sunsets over the lake, the gold and orange skies framed by moss-draped cypress trees along the shoreline. It’s a place where you can swap the congestion and noise of cities and suburbs for the soothing sights and sounds of nature.
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