Happy trails

Niagara it’s not, but the four-mile hiking trail loop at Clark Creek Natural Area (above) draws its fair share of sightseers, thanks to some 50 waterfalls throughout its hilly terrain. But a hike at this Mississippi park, just 25 minutes from St. Francisville, won’t only gain you pretty pictures; the trails feature some seriously steep sections that will challenge even the hardiest hiker. Cool off with a drink from the century-old Pond general store after the invigorating workout.
 (601) 888-6040 

Calorie burning comes with a side of history at Port Hudson in East Feliciana Parish. The 643-acre state historic site was the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River and saw the longest siege in American military history. While trekking along six miles of trails, hikers can almost envision the movements of thousands of soldiers who fought here for 48 days in 1863. The park also offers a museum and welcomes battlefield re-enactors each March. 
(888) 677-3400

The Trees and Trails path system at LSU’s Burden Center is a hidden hiking gem in the heart of Baton Rouge. Five miles of meandering tracks wind through woodlands close to Essen Lane but removed enough to feel like a remote wilderness. First envisioned by philanthropist and nature lover Steele Burden, the trails now offer bird watchers, families, scout troops and athletes an opportunity to stretch their legs while learning more about the area’s natural treasures. 

Ten years ago, an abandoned dirt mine near Central was transformed into the Blackwater Conservation Area, a recreational retreat complete with a fishing lake, a small but sandy beach, and just over a mile of scenic trails. Hikers looking to make a day of it will also enjoy the nearby hilly walking and biking trails at Hooper Road Park and Comite River Park, part of BREC’s push to increase off-road recreational opportunities in East Baton Rouge Parish.
 757-8905 brec.org