Little Grand Canyon of Louisiana
Facebook alerted us to the fact that each state boast a “Little Grand Canyon”. This item just happened to appear while we were in Alexandria, LA for a family reunion. Reading the article we realized we were less than an hour from Louisiana’s Little Grand Canyon. On go the hiking boots and off we go to see what this hype is all about.
The Longleaf Vista Recreation Area of the Kisatchie National Forest, the only national forest in Louisiana, comprises 8700 acres. The Longleaf Vista Scenic Byway winds 17 miles through the area with pull offs for views and stops for hiking.
Our first stop was the Bayou Cypre Overlook. It was difficult to see any bayou with the trees and bushy overgrowth. What we did see was the work of the CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps. The stone fence and steps are a work of art. We stood looking at the structure realizing what men built so long ago, we are continuing to enjoy their efforts today.
Our intended destination was next – Longleaf Vista Complex. Here we would hike the 1.5 mile Longleaf Vista Trail. We are walkers and 1.5 miles is a piece of cake; that is if it is flat and easy. This trail is considered moderate and if you stay on the trail it would be easier. But of course we had to take every off shoot since this is where most of the great views are.
The trail was built by the CCC and their work is seen throughout the area. The steps leading to the vista are again a work of art. Once on the plateau we not only enjoyed the surrounding view, we again thought about the young men working in the forest for future generations to enjoy.
Back on the trail and into the forest we go. The various trees are documented with descriptions. There are rest stops along the way with benches, built by the CCC. Most of the benches are placed in areas with nice views.
The trail is a loop trail with elevations ranging from 120 ft. to 400 ft. The average grade is 4% with the maximum being 19%. It may not be very long, but completing it provided a sense of accomplishment and a great workout for two 65+ hikers.
Besides the trail, the complex has restrooms, paved parking, gazebo, tables and BBQ pits. We ended our hike with a picnic lunch and discussion about what we saw and did and of course the CCC.
On the road again to complete the byway and more viewings. It is worth a trip to hike the Vista Trail. Days would be needed to truly see and enjoy the entire area and what it offers.
It may not be the Grand Canyon yet it is grand viewing in Louisiana.