Pecan Grove, Ring Levee, and Wood Duck Trails
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
Chef Emile's Pecan Grove, Ring Levee, and Wood Duck Trails Hiking Log
September 9, 2007
I walked these trails earlier this year on May 16 (see my Trail Log). Then it was very marshy due to several days of rain. This September has been somewhat dry and the dirt road was not at all marshy. But I still would recommend the "Shrimp Boots" that I talked about in my first Trail log.
I would also recommend that you bring a walking stick. Ann and I started our walk at about 9am; and it was quite evident that no one had walked the trail before us that morning. In fact, we didn't see anyone on any of the trails that day. SOOOOO, for solitude, I would rate it a 10! Back to my comment of the walking stick, you NEED one! There were literally hundreds of spider webs across the trails. You need a stick to clear your path! These webs are BIG, some are 4 feet in diameter.
Since we were early in the morning, we didn't bring any water. BUTTTT, I would suggest it, at the end of the walk, we were thirsty.
Finally, I would recommend that you use some mosquito insect repellent, we didn't have a problem with them, but it sure wouldn't hurt to have some in your tote bag.
The trails start in the parking lot of the Pecan Grove and lead northeast along the road that is unmarked, but shown on the trailhead map as a portion of Loop A. Follow that road for about a 1/3 of a mile. The Ring Levee Trail forks off to your upper left and the Wood Duck Trail forks to the right, almost due ease. These are both marked. The Ring Levee Trail was under repair last May and was not accessible all the way to the end. WELL, guess what??! They fixed it! SOOO, that is the direction we took!
You can see from the my first pic above and on the left, that there was fresh sawdust on the newly built decking. You can also see from the second pic, that the new deck's wood planks run perpendicular to the path, whereas the old planking ran parallel with the walkway. If it weren't for the decking, there would be no trail! For the decking is built to be just inches above the swamp's water level. This is an absolutely fabulous way to experience a SWAMP!!! You are literally inches from the water!!! But still, somewhat safe. (don't fall in, and don't feed any of the critters!)
The green stuff that you see is not algae, and it doesn't stink. Many people have the impression that a swamp smells. Well this one doesn't. The water that you see is clear and not murky, it only gets that way when the bottom is disturbed by walking or boating through it.
Parts of the walkway are built right over fallen trees and branches. Of course, this happens all of the time, but was acerbated by Katrina. It appeared that these were cut up in place and allowed to decay where they had fallen.
At the end of the trail there is a small platform. From the park's map it would seem that you could walk around the "Ring" levee that surrounds the abandon oil drill (we didn't see any old equipment though). But the trail stops right in the middle of the area. That's ok, because the levee couldn't be too high, because if they didn't tell you it was there, you wouldn't see it. All and all; is a truly beautiful area, full of plants, birds, insects and (not seen) reptiles. Soooo, I think this might make a great location for a morning picnic. Maybe carry in some chairs, and just sit for a while! With a 35mm camera, tripod, coffee and some beignets!..... Our next visit.!!! (I have done that, now to get the pics developed! Check back for an addition to the log!! And This time we saw a white tail deer.)
The Ring Levee trail is about a half mile, so the round trip is just under one mile. At the junction of the trails is the Wood Duck Trail, we then took it, off to the east!
The Wood Duck Trail has no built up decking because it is a little higher than the surrounding swamp. But again somewhat muddy so wear the right boots.
The pic to the left is not a very good one, because my phone's camera focuses on infinity. This is a pic of a spider and it's web. It was at least 10 feet across the trail. You can see sunlight reflecting off of the silk. Again you need walking sticks to brush away the webs!
Along the trail we came across this snake, it is a racer. Long, slender, light brown (a coffee colored roux) with almost no distinguishable markings. Again the pic isn't the best, but let's face it, the snake is designed to blend in!
You follow the trail to a slightly higher ground area, built up with old clam shells. It is about a half a mile from the fork, and you back track to get back to the Trail head. BTW, we didn't see not one Wood Duck!
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