Not only is the state of Louisiana rich in culture and heritage; it is also rich in terrain. It is known for its deltas, swamps and marshes, as well as its longleaf pine forest and wet savannahs. In short, it is clear why Louisiana was nicknamed the Bayou State.
With the Driskill Mountain in the northeast of the state, the Kisatchie National Forest in the centre and the Gulf of Mexico making up for its southern border, there is no question that Louisiana is packed with fabulous natural scenery. This includes lakes, and there are natural and man-made ones scattered all over the state.
Let’s have a look at the best lakes in Louisiana:
1. Caddo Lake, Caddo Parish
This beautiful lake and bayou sits in the northwest corner of the state and is shared with neighbouring Texas. The 10,200 hectare lake is home to the world’s biggest Cypress forest, which only adds to its beauty.
The lake is named after the Caddo tribe who previously lived in the area. According to legend of the Caddo people, the lake was developed by the 1811–12 New Madrid earthquakes.
Today, Caddo Lake is an internationally protected wetland that is home to owls, eagles, water fowl, snakes and alligators. It is also home to over 70 species of fish, making it popular amongst anglers.
2. Toledo Bend Reservoir, Sabine and DeSoto parishes
Sitting on the Sabine River between Louisiana and Texas, Toledo Bend Reservoir is the largest man-mad lake in the Southern USA. The 75,000 hectare lake is home to the Toledo Bend Dam, South Toledo Bend State Park and North Toledo Bend State Park.
The lake boasts 1,900 kilometres of shoreline, making it a popular spot for swimming, fishing, picnicking and boating. Plus, its two state park’s offer visitors the chance to go hiking and camping.
South Toledo Bend State Park features a two kilometre hiking trail, 19 shorefront cabins and 60 camping sites. North Toledo Bend State Park features 10 cabins and 67 camp sites, as well as being home to an Olympic-size swimming pool.
3. Calcasieu Lake, Cameron Parish
Calcasieu Lake is located in southwest Louisiana; draining into the Gulf of Mexico. The 19,900 hectare brackish lake is known amongst anglers for its abundance of red drum and spotted sea trout.
Flounder, and brown and white shrimp are also easy to catch in the lake. If you don’t have your own boat, it is simple to charter or boat or go on a fishing tour.
When visiting the Calcasieu Lake, you may be lucky enough to spot Pinky; an albino bottlenose dolphin that was first seen by locals in 2007.
4. Lake Pontchartrain, St. Tammany, Orleans, Jefferson, St. John the Baptist, St. Charles & Tangipahoa parishes
Spread across six different parishes, Lake Pontchartrain sits right on the northern edge of New Orleans. In fact, it was once a popular haven for wealthy New Orleanians.
Today, the New Orleans area of Lake Pontchartrain is home to artists and young professionals, while the north shore is dotted with luxurious accommodations and famous restaurants.
The 163,000 hectare lake is actually an estuary that is connected to the Gulf of Mexico. It has an average depth of 3.7 to 4.3 metres, and is one of the largest wetlands along the entire North American side of the Gulf Coast.
The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway stretches across the lake, which runs from the New Orleans suburb of Metairie to Mandeville. This happens to be the longest bridge over water on the planet.
5. Cross Lake, Caddo Parish
This 3,500 hectare lake is just west of the city of Shreveport and is the city’s main water supply. Parts of the reservoir are surrounded by ancient cypress tree forests, making it extremely picturesque.
Cross Lake is a popular place to fish for bass, although there are also blue gill, catfish and white perch swimming around. The lake is also great for swimming.
Nature lovers flock to the lake to ogle waterfowl, alligators and other wildlife. Unfortunately, the southeast portion of the lake has been quite heavily developed.
6. Lake D’Arbonne, Union Parish
Lake D’Arbonne is a 6,200 hectare lake that sits in a quiet rural area not far from the town of Farmerville. The man-made reservoir was created in 1963 and today is a popular place to go fishing.
Lake D’Arbonne State Park sits on the northwest side of the lake just south of State Highway 2. The park boasts a network of hiking and cycling trails, as well as having 16 cabins and 58 campsites.
Visitors thoroughly enjoy visiting this quiet lake because of its serenity and its abundance of wildlife. In addition to fishing, many come here to go canoeing.
7. False River, Pointe Coupee Parish
False River is a U-shaped lake that is located just west of the Mississippi River and northwest of the city of Baton Rouge. The 17 kilometre long lake was formed in the 1700s, and today its shoreline is quite heavily developed.
Houses, businesses and camps are set up all around the lake, as are accommodations, restaurants and shops. It is a popular recreational lake, with many coming here to go water skiing, sailing and boating.
False River is a trophy lake, which means certain sized fish must be thrown back into the water. It also happens to be a hot spot for duck hunting.
8. Lake Claiborne, Claiborne Parish
Lake Claiborne was created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers when they built the Claiborne Lock and Dam. Today, the 2600 hectare lake is known for its fantastic recreational activities.
Lake Claiborne State Park sits at the south end of the lake, which features numerous facilities and activities. There are 10 cabins and 89 campsites within the park, which is also a great place for swimming, sunbathing, hiking and mountain biking.
The lake is often pegged as that state’s most scenic lake thanks to its abundance of birds, its beaches and its natural surroundings. It is also stocked with largemouth bass, striped bass, catfish, crappie bluegill and various other fish.
9. Lac des Allemands, Lafourche, St. Charles & St. John the Baptist parishes
Translating in French to ‘Lake of the Germans’, Lac des Allemands is named after the German settlers that inhabited the area long ago. In fact, this part of Louisiana is called the German Coast.
It is a shallow lake that is fed by bayous in the Barataria Basin. It is surrounded by cypress swamps and bayous, making it quite a beautiful lake.
Lac des Allemands is known as the Catfish Capital of the World and even hosts the annual Louisiana Catfish Festival. It is also home to numerous other fish species, as well as otters, egrets, alligators, frogs and great blue herons.
10. Lake Bruin, Tensas Parish
This 1,200 hectare ox-bow lake is known for its spectacularly clear water. This makes it a top spot for swimming, though many visitors also come to go boating and fishing.
Lake Bruin was named after Peter Bryan Bruin, who owned a plantation nearby. Today, most of the land around the lake is privately owned aside from the state owned Lake Bruin State Park.
The park is filled with cypress trees and offers public access to the lake. It features three fishing piers, a boat launch, picnic tables and 25 campsites.
11. Lake Maurepas, Livingston, St. John the Baptist & Tangipahoa parishes
Named after Jean-Frédéric Phélypeaux, Count of Maurepas, Lake Maurepas is a round, shallow lake that is just west of Lake Pontchartrain.
The 24,000 hectare lake is the second largest lake in Louisiana. It receives water from the Amite, Blind, Tickfaw and Natalbany Rivers.
There is almost no development around the lake, making it extremely serene and beautiful. In fact, the only sign of mankind at the lake is the overhead bridge of Interstate 55 that skirts the east side of it.
12. Prien Lake, Calcasieu Parish
Located just south of the city of Lake Charles, Prien Lake is connected to the Calcasieu Ship Channel at three places. Today, the designated use of the lake is for recreational purposes.
The abundance of croaker, speckled trout, redfish and flounder make Prien Lake a popular place for both commercial and recreational fishing. The Lake Charles Country Club can be found at the south end of the lake.
Prien Lake is home to two parks that combined have a public boast launch, picnic areas, and parking. There is also a beach at LaFleur Park that offers fantastic swimming.
13. Lake Bistineau, Webster, Bossier & Bienville parishes
This long, narrow 62,900 hectare lake stretches across three parishes in north-western Louisiana. The name Lake Bistineau comes from the Caddo word meaning ‘big broth’ because of the abundance of plant life found in the water.
The lake is a known recreational spot, particularly within the Lake Bistineau State Park. The park is on the west side of the lake and provides access to the lake, as well as fishing, boating, cycling and hiking.
There are numerous accommodations within the park, as well both hook-up and non-hook-up campsites. All-in-all Lake Bistineau is quite beautiful.
14. Lake Fausse Pointe State Park, St. Martin Parish
Sitting within the Atchafalaya Basin, Lake Fausse Pointe State Park is a 2,400 hectare park that features a labyrinth of waterways, as well as a large lake.
The park is full of wildlife, and also features an interpretive centre that offers detailed information on all of the plants and wildlife living with in. There are also three hiking/cycling trails that vary in length and level.
Numerous canoe trails weave in and out of the park and its waterways, with canoe campsites along the way. There are also other campsites all over the park, as well as cabins and motorhome sites.
15. Lake Martin, St. Martin Parish
Lake Martin is a designated wildlife preserve and one of the state’s major swamplands. It is home to herons, egrets, ibis, bullfrogs, alligators and a plethora of other wildlife.
The eco-system here is phenomenal, which is exactly why it is a protected area. Much of this can be seen by hiking or cycling along one of its many trails.
Lake Martin is located just east of Lafayette. It is easily accessible by car, but best explored by canoe or kayak, or of course, on foot.