Louisiana Colonial Trails Scenic Byway: a crossroads of cultures

Journey along trails, routes, and byways with scenic views evoking images of natives, pioneers, and other settlers who embraced the terrain to make a way of life. The Louisiana Colonial Trails offers a crossroads characterized by diverse people, resources, and culture, then and now. Cypress bayous transition into piney hills, where wetlands skirt farms, and rivers and crops feed the world. 

Pioneers left the Natchez Trace behind, crossing the "Big River" on western passages in sync with the Louisiana Purchase... from the Old San Antonio Road to the El Camino Real and Nolan's Trace, traveling a network of Indian footpaths and mission trails, navigating the badlands, connecting the original colonies to Mexico and the West.

With a history profoundly marked by French, Spanish, African, Native American and Anglo-American influences, there are storied places…

  • over which Spanish and American diplomats once bickered...
  • with cotton country and cane fields on which Louisiana’s economy once turned -- and where Solomon Northup spent his "12 Years A Slave" and had freedom restored...
  • where the man Jim Bowie was a dueling legend on the sand bar and a friend of criminals...
  • from where the Longs and their stumps inspired today's Louisiana Political Hall of Fame and Museum... just miles from St. Maurice's United Methodist Church, oldest UMC west of the Mississippi
  • and where only St. Francis Xavier Cathedral and Kent House escaped the burning of Alexandria.

Where the Cajun and Creole Catholic south dissolve into the Anglo-American Protestant north Louisiana. From pre-historic tribes to outlaws, missionaries, blues singers, and political power. Remnants of fortifications from Indian tribes, Spain, France, and the early American western frontier dot the landscape. Prehistoric tribes left behind arrowheads, tools and pottery. Settlers migrating west found a land of opportunity.

Among the woods and waterways are magnificent state forests and the Kisatchie National Forest, America's Swamp the Atchafalaya Basin, red bluffs and natural waterfall at Sicily Island, Four Rivers joining at Jonesville, Buhlow's "fastest water" adjacent to Fort Randolph, a butterfly park beneath a tower atop the trees, Louisiana Mudfest at McNeely Crossing, and leading you to the Myths and Legends' badlands of west central Louisiana...

Bayous and bluffs. Alligators and bears. Outlaws and missionaries. Renegades and farmers. Gangs and heroes and politicians. It is a true crossroads of cultures with livelihoods, legends, and locales that continue to provide lore and opportunity. 

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Latitude: 31.56018 Longitude: -91.420886 Elevation: 41 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Heather Urena

Length of Scenic Drive

484 miles

Driving Directions

Across from the Natchez Trace, and beginning at the Mississippi River at Vidalia, LA, begin along U.S. Highway 84 travelling west, the route forks, with the northern path continuing past Jonesville and Jena, LA and diverting to LA Hwy 6 at Campti, through Natchitoches (Louisiana's oldest settlement) and westward through Many. Just a ways past Jonesville, travel southwest on LA Hwy 28, diverting due south on LA Hwy 115 to travel the more Cajun and French area, continuing southeast on LA Hwy 107 and looping at LA Hwy 451 for the Big Bend and Brouillette areas. Head north on LA 107 and continue to LA Hwy 28, heading west into Pineville, LA. At Pineville, LA

Highlights and Key Points Along the Route

Louisiana Highways 8, 1200, continuing on Hot Wells Road/Louisiana Highway s121/1200, 496, and Bayou Rapides Rd., Rapides Ave., Bolton Ave., Jackson St. in Alexandria into Pineville, on Main St., Shamrock Ave., Louisiana Highway 1250, continuing on Louisiana Highways 107 and Louisiana Highway 28. Also on Louisiana Highway 1200, continuing on Highway 1200, and north to Highway 8 at Colfax.

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