Photo by Frank McMains
Harold Shoeffler, past chair of the Acadiana chapter of the Sierra Club and a Lafayette-area scoutmaster since 1980, has spent a lifetime introducing people of all ages to the majesty of the South Louisiana outdoors. But he acknowledges that finding the right spot to pitch a tent for a night under the stars isn’t easy. “There’s a lot of public land out there, if only you know where to look,” he observed. These are three of his favorites:
On a pretty evening, Shoeffler loves Burns Point Park & Recreation Area for its campsites beneath oak trees with unobstructed views out over Cote Blanche Bay. Shoeffler says there’s fine fishing for redfish and speckled trout if you have a canoe or kayak; and if you’re lucky, you might hear the haunting cries of loons that winter in this area. $1 fee to camp. Highway 17 South, Centreville, La.
Shreve’s Bar is a sand island in the middle of the Mississippi River right by the entrance to the Old River Control Structure locks that control access to the Atchafalaya River. Less than a mile’s paddle from the put-in, Shreve’s Bar welcomes campers with a mile of open sand, willow woods for firewood, and breathtaking views up and down the river. To get to the put-in, cross the river control structure going north on Highway 15 near Lettsworth, then turn immediately to your right. You’ll come to a public put-in and campground. There is no fee.
For energetic couples, Shoeffler recommends the Kisatchie National Forest near Alexandria. “We love the Turpentine Hill and Backbone trails,” he said. Both wind through longleaf and loblolly pine forest, traversing high ridges and rocky overlooks. Beautiful campsites are plentiful; and this being a wilderness area, you can put your tent up wherever takes your fancy.