Best Hikes in Kisatchie National Forest (LA)

Kisatchie National Forest Overview

Kisatchie National Forest is located in central Louisiana and is the only national forest in the state. Kisatchie is broken out into 5 ranger districts – Calcasieu, Winn, Catahoula, Kisatchie, and Caney. Grand vistas, rippling water, scenic trails, and Archaic caves all can be found here. There are numerous trails throughout the Forest that are marked as multi-use trails. Distances vary from 1/2 mile to nearly 30 miles. Most traverse across rolling hills with many scenic areas scattered throughout. More on the best hikes in Kisatchie National Forest can be found below.

Nearest Metro AreaAlexandria, LA
Area Size604,000 acres
EstablishedJune 10, 1930
Hiking Trails100 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Best Hikes in Kisatchie National Forest

(*** = Best Hikes in Kisatchie National Forest)

Backbone Trail*** – 7.4 miles one-way

This hike will lead you through some of the best views that the Kisatchie National Forest has to offer. The first half of this trail is a relatively flat journey through tall long leaf pines that seem to jet out of the Kisatchie’s sandy floor. The second portion of this trail reveals the beauty that was hidden for the first few miles. Leave a shuttle car at whichever end you aren’t starting at or expect to head back along the Longleaf Trail Scenic Byway road for ~2.5 miles.

Kincaid Loop – 9.2 miles loop

Traveling from the East Boat Launch on the Lakeshore Trail, visitors will enjoy a moderately difficult hiking trail that meanders near and away from the shoreline of Kincaid Lake. If you are the first visitor of the day, you will probably be breaking the previous nights spider web network from across the trail. Unforgettable views of the lake, photo opportunities and wildlife encounters abound.

Longleaf Vista Interpretive Trail – 1.5 mile loop
Kisatchie Hills Longleaf Pines
Longleaf Pines, Photo by Justin Meissen

The Longleaf Vista Recreation Area has a very exciting 1.5 mile interpretive trail that makes a loop through a wide variety of forest settings. From meadows, to bottomland hardwoods, to high mesas, to creeks, this short trail offers visitors enough to make them want to go around again when they’re done.

Sugar Cane Trail*** – 6.5 mile loop

The Caney Lakes Unit has the Sugar Cane National Recreation Trail running straight through its Caney Lakes Recreation Complex. With hills and bottoms the terrain varies greatly. Nationally recognized for its historic and scenic values, visitors come from far distances to experience the Sugar Cane Trail.

Wild Azalea Trail – 31.0 miles one-way

This is a great Louisiana backpacking option however depending on the time of year, there can be a lot of storm damage throughout. It is well maintained and was designated by the Chief of the Forest Service as a National Recreation Trail because of its outstanding scenic values.

Featured Image: Kisatchie Falls, Photo by US Forest Service – Southern Region

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  1. James Dukes

    We have just opened a shuttle service for Central Louisiana trails. For hikers, bikers, kayakers. We even have a trailer for your equipment.
    Check out our Facebook page- Kisatchie Shuttle and Support