10 Stunning Hikes Near New Orleans for All Experience Levels
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New Orleans – home to the infamous Bourbon Street, incredible cajun food, and annual Mardi Gras celebrations – is a one of a kind city. Besides stuffing your face with beignets while listening to some of the best live music in the country, there are also several hiking trails you can explore in the area. Running through the city’s landscapes, ranging from the city’s bayous to swamps and forests. For understanding the region’s unique geography and history, hiking near New Orleans is one of the best ways to explore. We created this guide to the best hikes near New Orleans so you can get out and discover some of the best nature areas this region has to offer!

Photo Credit: AJ Schroetlin (Flickr CC)

Easy Hiking Near New Orleans

Audubon Louisiana Nature Center

  • Trail Length: Varies
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

The Audubon Louisiana Nature Center is one of the main outdoor learning centers in New Orleans, and they’ve got a variety of trails and pathways to explore on the park’s grounds. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to see lots of local wildlife species, including reptiles, birds, and mammals. There are several different trails you can choose from on the park’s property, or you can simply walk them all! Wooden boardwalks wind through the woods and over swampy areas to bring hikers to the various sections of the park.

Couturie Forest & Arboretum

  • Trail Length: 1.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

There are few things as special or magical as the trees in New Orleans, and Couturie Forest & Arboretum is one of the best places to experience them. Filled with huge live oaks, waterfront views with bird watching platforms, and big bridges connecting the trails in the park, this 1.1-mile trail packs a punch in terms of things to see and do. Perfect for kids and families, the trail is easy and well-maintained, with wide pathways that can accommodate plenty of people during peak times. Plus, there are learning boards all around the park with information about the local species that call this ecosystem home.

Photo Credit: dconvertini (Flickr CC)

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

  • Trail Length: Varies
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

One of the coolest parks in the city for learning about the history and nature of the area is the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. Home to many of the best hikes in New Orleans, there’s never a dull moment at this scenic park!

The loop that includes the Palmetto, Bayou Coquille and Marsh Overlook is the longest of the trails in the park, spanning 4.2 miles on easy, flat terrain. On this trail, you’ll find long, picturesque stretches of wooden boardwalks that run through the humid, swampy terrain, with opportunities to view alligators, snakes, and local bird species. You’ll feel like you’re headed into Jurassic Park in this lush, green area!

Mary Anne Brown Nature Walk

  • Trail Length: 1.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

A short, fun hike in New Orleans, the Mary Anne Brown Nature Walk is perfect for learning about some of the native plant species in the area. This trail feels more like a walk in the woods than the other easy hikes near New Orleans, so we’d recommend it for any hike looking for an adventure. Throughout the trail, you’ll find lake views, forested pathways, and opportunities to view local wildlife. Since it’s so short, this is a trail you can do over and over again, and it’s perfect for families with young kids or first-time hikers looking for something different.

Photo Credit: Justin Meissen (Flickr CC)

Fontainebleau State Park

  • Trail Length: Varies
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

Located about an hour from New Orleans, Fontainebleau State Park is situated right on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain in a marshy area full of interesting, unique landscapes. The park’s many trails have tons of wooden boardwalks that offer hikers the chance to view the park’s varied landscapes, from the grassy marshes to swampy wetlands to the lush forests and everything in between. A lot of locals return to Fontainebleau State Park over and again because there’s seemingly something new to enjoy each time you hike through!

Port Hudson State Historic Site

  • Trail Length: 3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 164 feet

For a history infused walk in the woods, the Port Hudson State Historic Site is a popular choice for hiking near New Orleans. Located on the site where a historic Civil War battle took place, there are plenty of plaques and resources, as well as artifacts on display, so you can learn more about the history of the area and how it was impacted by the land. Today, there’s a large museum on site, surrounded by several hiking trails that lead through the forest to various historic sections. There’s also a tower you can climb to see the park area from up above!

Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann (Flickr CC)

New Orleans City Park South Loop

  • Trail Length: 4.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

Full of live oaks covered in moss and plenty of trails, the 1,300-acre New Orleans City Park is a quintessential spot for hiking in New Orleans. Of all of the hikes near New Orleans on our list, this one is a must-do, especially if you’re visiting New Orleans and want to get a feel for the green spaces in the city. Some of the park’s oak trees – one of the most iconic tree species in the American South – are over 600 years old! In the park, you’ll find scenic lakefront views, paved sidewalks, and a few fountains over the water. While not a traditional “hike,” by any means, the New Orleans City Park trails are well worth exploring!

Lake Chicot Loop Trail

  • Trail Length: 17.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 744 feet

This trail is unfortunately closed currently. Please check the park’s website for more information on reopening.

Photo Credit: Bart Everson (Flickr CC)

Moderate & Difficult Hikes Near New Orleans

Bogue Chitto State Park Gorge Run Trail

  • Trail Length: 5.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 239 feet

One of the longer and more moderate hikes near New Orleans is the Bogue Chitto Gorge Run Trail. Located at Bogue Chitto State Park, this trail offers hikers more in-depth exposure to the plant and wildlife of the vast swamps and wetlands of the Louisiana area. Explore scenic waterfronts, red gorge areas, and lots of forested trails on this 5.7-mile adventure. It’s a lot more rugged and “backcountry-esque” than most of the trails on our list, giving hikers the feeling of being completely immersed in nature amidst its dirt trails and shady swamps.

Comite River Park

  • Trail Length: 5.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

Unfortunately, as of late October, Comite River Park is closed because of damage to the trails from Hurricane Delta. Check the park’s website for the latest reopening updates.

Additional Resources for Hiking Near New Orleans

What to Pack

  • Hiking boots – You can’t hike without appropriate footwear, period. For most trails, we recommend an all-purpose waterproof boot with ankle support. We recommend Salomon hiking boots or Keen hiking boots for a comfortable hike.
  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to stay cool in a sweat-wicking shirt/tank top and breathable pants, like these PrAna hiking pants for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers, an insulated puffer jacket, and a waterproof outer shell. And don’t forget a pair of the best hiking socks in the world!
  • Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we recommend throwing them in your car anyway just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond foldable trekking poles, which are lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To spare disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask bottles because they keep water cold for hours, but a good old Nalgene works very well too.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – This should be self-explanatory, but sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend Osprey day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes.

Wondering what exactly you should pack for your next hike? Visit our Complete Day Hiking Packing List for our full list and our top gear recommendations.

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Kay Rodriguez is the Chicago-based travel writer and photographer behind Jetfarer and Skyline Adventurer. When she's not blogging furiously on her laptop or editing photos, you can find Kay running, hiking, or paddling in a new city.

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