The Creole Nature Trail travels through thousands of acres of untouched wetlands that reflect an area blessed with some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. If you like to photograph or hunt wildlife, the trail takes you to three different wildlife refuges and a bird sanctuary. If you aren't a duck hunter, you may like to try your hand at a little Louisiana fishing. The combination of fresh and saltwater areas provides a unique habitat for many of the plants and creatures that live along the byway.
Traveling the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, you will be enchanted by the entwining ecosystems of the coastland and the marshland. So drive the trail through Louisiana's very own outback and discover the culture, nature, and history awaiting you there.
Archaeological Qualities of the Creole Nature Trail
Comparatively large concentrations of American Indian archaeological finds, such as pots, shards, and arrowheads, have been unearthed throughout Cameron Parish, and burial mounds were found on Little Chenier, indicating that the earlier American Indian populations must have been large and widespread.
Cultural Qualities of the Creole Nature Trail
The culture along the Creole Nature Trail is one that has been mixing and evolving for hundreds of years. Spanish, French, and African influences have all collided here in this coastal outback where alligators roam and hurricanes are known to swallow entire villages. The people of southwest Louisiana understand the place they live in and they revel in it. Throughout the year more than 75 festivals celebrate living on the Creole Nature Trail. Visitors might learn how to skin an alligator or enjoy some real Cajun cooking. All along the byway, historic buildings, nature trails, and even wildlife refuges provide a few more details about the way people live and enjoy life on the byway. Shrimp boats and ships in the Cameron Ship Channel reflect the importance of the Gulf in the area. Shrimp, crabs, oysters, and a host of fresh and saltwater fish are harvested daily. Visitors can sample these delicacies at area restaurants or purchase fresh seafood for their own recipes.
Historical Qualities of the Creole Nature Trail
An infamous history prevails throughout much of the early 1800s on the byway. The pirate Jean Lafitte made a huge profit from capturing Spanish slave ships and selling the slaves to Louisiana cotton and sugar cane planters. His exploits involved everything from the African slave trade to liaisons with French spies. It is rumored that Lafitte buried riches and treasure chests all along the Calcasieu River.
When the Civil War came to Louisiana, battles were fought over Sabine Pass and Calcasieu Pass where the Confederates were successful. Standing today as a stalwart landmark, the Sabine Pass Lighthouse was built in 1856 and became a point of conflict during the Civil War.
Natural Qualities of the Creole Nature Trail
The marshlands of coastal Louisiana are teeming with wildlife. They are a bird-watcher's paradise and a photographer's dream. These marshes are filled with the songs of the cardinal and blackbird, the quacking and honking of ducks and geese, the chatter of squirrels, the croaking of frogs, and the bellowing of alligators.
In southwestern Louisiana, marshes and other wetlands can be viewed in the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, and the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge. At Peveto Woods Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary, visitors will find creatures living amid the cheniers. Beautiful butterflies find this habitat to be the perfect place to spend the winter.
As a coastal prairie, much of the land along the byway displays beautiful wildflowers throughout the warmer months. Many of the flowers have memorable names, like maypop passionflower and duck potato. Unique plants can be found growing everywhere along the byway. Cordgrass grows where nothing else will, and a plant called alligator weed is a food source for deer, herons, and egrets.
Recreational Qualities of the Creole Nature Trail
One of the most popular activities for locals and visitors alike is the excellent fishing on Louisiana's coastline. Here, visitors will catch more than just fish. Crabs, shrimp, and oysters are also popular items to pull from the sea. Freshwater, saltwater, and brackish fishing are all available to travelers.
Even on the Creole Nature Trail, you may want a taste of civilization every now and then. Visitors love to stop in places such as Lake Charles or Cameron Parish just to take a look at the historic sites that make each town memorable.
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