Are you looking for a hiking experience where you can see waterfalls but will only take one tank of gas? Well, the Clark Creek Natural Area is the place for you!
Are you looking for a hiking experience that allows you to see waterfalls but will only take one tank of gas?
Well, Clark Creek Natural Area offers Louisiana adventurers the chance to see waterfalls with only a short car drive.
Lafayette outdoor retailer Pack and Paddle recently hosted The Louisiana Weekend for a guided hike of Clark Creek.
Located almost exactly an hour north of Baton Rouge near, just across the state line into Mississippi, the Clark Creek Natural Area features over 700 acres of hardwood and pine forest, steep hills, and 50 waterfalls. And it’s a two-hour drive from Lafayette or New Orleans.
The hills can vary from 100 ft to up to 400 ft in elevation. The waterfalls vary from 10 ft to 30 ft in height.
At times the landscape can seem almost alien to someone from south Louisiana with beautiful waterfalls, steep ravines, and giant clay boulders scattered across the landscape.
Hiking During The Golden Hour
Our hiking group embarked on the trail around 4:30 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon to view the beautiful scenery during the time before sunset known as the “Golden Hour.”
“The Golden Hour” is the magical time right before sunset when daylight is redder and softer than when the sun is high in the sky during the middle of the day.
It’s a great time to take photos and enjoy the splendor of this natural gem.
Once we were inside the canopy of the dense forest, the temperature dropped a few degrees. Combined with the occasional breeze it made for a surprisingly cool hike in the middle of July.
Pack and Paddle’s Guided Hikes
Pack and Paddle offers guided hikes of Clark Creek once a month, October through April. On certain occasions, the store still offers guided hikes during the summer months.
Our guide, Max Dugas confidently led us onto the trail keeping everybody motivated that they could take on the steep hills.
Hiking poles were provided to all participants by Pack and Paddle. The poles are a big help in keeping you stable especially when walking down the decline of a steep hill.
Max knew the area like the back of his hand. He would prompt us of what trail elevations or obstacles were coming next and point out which areas were prime photo-taking spots.
He was sure everyone in the group was constantly accounted for and took plenty of water breaks. And when you’re hiking in the middle of July, you can’t take enough water breaks.
The best part…a gourmet meal is included with the cost of the hike. At least after hiking for two hours in the July heat, a nice spread of croissant sandwiches and hummus tastes like a gourmet meal!
To sign up for one of Pack and Paddle’s guided hikes or other great outdoor events visit: https://packpaddle.com/events-and-trips/
The Benefits Of Hiking With A Group
Hiking with a group is an incredibly uplifting experience. Everybody participating loves healthy activity and the outdoors. So, it’s a very positive vibe before you even step on the trail!
Group hikes are the ultimate icebreaker. There’s no way you can walk in the woods, up steep hills, and down into a creek bed without starting a conversation with someone.
Plus, it creates a team-building atmosphere because everyone is sweating and climbing at the same time.
If you’re looking for a way to meet new people a group hike is the way to go. It can also make for a fun, simple team building experience.
The Actual Hike
Hiking Clark Creek feels like you’re in another world (or state at least), especially if you’re from Louisiana.
It’s easy to forget you’re still in the south when you’re walking and can see a 100 ft. drop to your left or right.
I cannot drive this point home enough, it’s a ton of fun!
Pack and Paddle’s guides consider Clark Creek a “Level 2 hike,” meaning it’s perfect for beginners but it can be strenuous given the elevation and the duration of the hike.
Our hike lasted a little over three hours. But we had about a 20-minute break for a picnic dinner and plenty of 5-minute water and photo breaks.
RELATED: Kayak fishing with Pack and Paddle
If you’re looking to truly unplug for a while, Clark Creek is the perfect place because cell phone signal for some carriers is non-existent.
Don’t worry! If there’s an emergency help is nearby. The natural area is patrolled by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.
Hiking through the dense forest and along the creek bed is a truly relaxing experience. The first thing you’ll notice is how quiet it is, until you get close to one of the waterfalls!
Your nose will also enjoy the smell of all the pine and hardwood trees of the forest. Pack and Paddle owner John Williams says if you’re lucky, sometimes you’ll see chipmunks, marbled salamanders, and even wild turkeys.
As I previously mentioned, hiking Clark Creek can be strenuous because some of the hills are steep. But the trail is well maintained and in steep areas has man-made staircases and observation decks looking over the waterfalls and ravines.
What To Pack
- PLENTY of water (at least 2 quarts)
- Flash light
- Rain gear
- Waterproof Cell Phone Bag
What To Wear
- Hiking Boots (preferably waterproof)
- Socks (to prevent blisters)
- Comfortable clothing (quick dry is ideal)
- Action Camera (optional)
Who To Take
*Dogs are allowed on the trail, but officials ask they be on a lease. It’s also a good idea to pack plenty of water and snacks for the dogs too!*
*Clark Creek is kid friendly and a great outdoor experience for the little ones. Just keep in mind the only physical bathroom is located at the trailhead. Also be sure to pack plenty of water and food for them too!*