Kisatchie National Forest



From hiking and kayaking to birdwatching and rockhounding, Kim Wallace “Vernon Voyager” of Vernon Parish Tourism in Louisiana, discusses the outdoor recreational opportunities in Vernon Parish including Wolf Rock Cave and Little Cypress Recreation Complex in Kisatchie National Forest on Big Blend Radio.

Established on June 10, 1930, Kisatchie National Forest lies in the north-central region of Louisiana, and is the only national forest in the state. Encompassing 604, 000 acres of diverse habitats, this beautiful public land is a popular outdoor destination boasting over 40 recreation sites and over 100 miles of trails. Recreational activities include hiking and backpacking, cycling and mountain biking, bird and wildlife watching, kayaking and canoeing, fishing and boating, horseback riding, picnicking and camping, scenic drives, and more. The diverse landscape is made up of ancient caves and rock formations, longleaf pine forest and flatwoods, bogs and prairies, lakes and rivers. The forest is home to approximately 155 species of resident and migrant birds, 48 mammal species, 56 reptile species and 30 amphibian species, and plant species that range from orchids to carnivorous plants, azaleas and wildflowers. 

Along with being an outdoor playground, Kisatchie National Forest plays an important role in protecting and conserving the environment in roadless areas such as the Cunningham Brake cypress-tupelo gum swamp, the Saline Bayou and the Kisatchie Hills National Wilderness Area. And, the Kisatchie National Forest Heritage program works to protect and preserve the forest’s archaeological sites and historic structures.

The forest is managed by five ranger districts and is part of seven parishes.

The Calcasieu Ranger District is made up of the Evangeline Unit in Rapides Parish including Alexandria and Pineville, and the Vernon Unit in Vernon Parish including Leesville. The Vernon unit features: Wolf Rock Cave known for being the only rock shelter in Louisiana used by the Archaic Indians; the Fullerton Lake Recreation Complex which was once the site of the Fullerton Sawmill and Town and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; the Little Cypress Recreational Complex that includes the 3-acre spring-fed Little Cypress Pond; as well as the Blue Hole Recreation Complex and Government Pond Recreation Area. The Evangeline Unit features Kincaid Lake, Valentine Lake, the Wild Azalea National Recreation Trail, Bayou Boeuf Research Natural Area, Castor Creek Scenic Area, plus, the remains of Camp Claiborne. A U.S. Army post during World War II, Camp Claiborne was also the largest military installation in the United States and the third largest city in Louisiana.

The Catahoula Ranger District is in Grant Parish, north of Pineville. The district features Stuart Lake Recreation Complex; the Catahoula Hummingbird and Butterfly Garden; the Glenn Emery Trail; the original Louisiana State University site in Pineville; the Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge; and the remains of old Camp Livingston which was used in WWII by the US Army for the Louisiana Maneuvers.

The Winn Ranger District is located in Winn Parish nearest to Winnfield. The district also features the Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge, as well as the Gum Springs Recreation Area, the Dogwood Interpretive Trail, and nearby Cloud Crossing Recreation Complex with access to the Saline Bayou which is a designated a National Wild and Scenic River.

Kisatchie Ranger District is located in Natchitoches Parish including Natchitoches, the oldest settlement in Louisiana. This district is a National Conservation Area that includes the Kisatchie Hills Wilderness Area; National Red Dirt Wildlife Management Preserve; the Longleaf Trail Scenic Byway and Longleaf Vista Recreation Area; Kisatchie Bayou Recreation Area; and Caroline Dormon Horse Trail.

The Caney Ranger district is located northeast of Shreveport near Homer ,and incudes the Caney Lake Unit, the Middle Fork Unit, and the Corney Lake Unit, The district is home to the Sugar Cane National Recreation Trail, Caney Lakes Recreation Area and Corney Lakes.

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