Nine thousand, five hundred steps.
That’s what it takes to get around University Lake, one of the most popular pedestrian destinations in Baton Rouge, according to a walking website I just discovered. Now depending on whether you’re a seasoned runner or you’re taking those steps with a curious toddler, those 9,500 steps could take 30 minutes or three hours. Either way, it’s a trek worth taking.
University Lake and the other smaller lakes surrounding it have been a big part of life for Capital City residents since they were first dug from a tupelo cypress swamp in the 1930s. I can mark distinct periods in my own life by times spent along the lakes, from feeding the ducks from a loaf of stale Holsum bread when I was very young to fending off an ornery goose behind Miller Dorm when I was a freshman at LSU. I spent many afternoons during college jogging around the lakes with friends, and then later walking over to the lakeside paths with my husband from our first house in the Garden District.
Visits to the lakes became a new kind of adventure when our daughter was born. I saw those geese through her excited eyes as we picnicked at Baton Rouge Beach. We pushed her stroller past the pretty houses, stopping many times along the way to literally smell the roses, to watch the visiting pelicans glide across the water, and to pet a cat named Taco. Most recently, our puppy became the latest inquisitive member of our walking troupe, barking and jumping up to greet every other dog we passed. Every! Single! One!
That kind of enthusiasm is in abundance around the lakes these days, as a long-awaited lake improvement project kicks off in earnest this spring. The first step involves dredging the lakes and then reshaping the shoreline to include enhanced recreational spaces and promenades, while improving water quality and preserving habitat for wildlife. The end result, says the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, will be a nationally noteworthy outdoor space.
Even before that project is completed, however, the family featured in inRegister’s February 2022 cover story is savoring their own special time on the lake. Having admired a particular house with a prime lakefront location since they were dating a decade ago, they now call it home—and they are soaking in the sunset-on-the-water views. Read their story here.
Meanwhile, I’m making a vow to take more walks along the lake this year. How long will 9,500 steps take me? Just long enough for a reset and refresh before diving back into daily life. Maybe I’ll see you there.