Louisiana's Bayou Pierre Wildlife Management Area
Welcome to my favorite bikepacking getaway in northwest Louisiana.
Bicycle Adventurer: W.B.Taylor
When: March 2017
Distance: Around 60 miles.
Bonus tip for this adventure: The riding is quite nice once you get outside the city.
I get this itch every week or so that NEEDS to be scratched and I have to get away from the grind of the city and hectic life. I pack my bike and go over my checklist the night before. Once everything is in order, I set my alarm to wake up early the next morning and head out to my favorite bikepacking getaway ... Bayou Pierre Wildlife Management Area.
It’s around 30 miles from my front door to the camping area. This little known gem was converted into a WMA by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and has around 3000 acres of forest and wetland with Bayou Pierre running through the middle. During hunting season there are a few hunters that use the area so I tend to stay off the trails out of respect for them, but in the off-season, it’s prime gravel-grinding and primitive camping territory. This weekend was going to be my first trip of the year. The weather was nice and I was chomping at the bit. I loaded up my bike and told the family I’d be leaving for an overnight trip on Saturday morning.
I woke early on Saturday, March 25, and cooked breakfast for my family. As soon as breakfast was over, I put on my riding shoes, climbed on my bike, and started pedaling south.
Once on White Springs Road, I really started to settle into my ride and enjoy the beautiful day. It seemed perfect ... I watched a hawk swoop down after a field mouse. A few seconds later he flew over me with the mouse in his clutches as if he was showing me a prize. I nodded and congratulated the beautiful creature in his victory, then kept on pedaling up a slight incline that lasted a mile or two. I was starting to realize that I had a decent load on the bike at this point.
As I kept spinning, I passed a few farms and said hello to the cows. I heard a dog or two barking, but they were too lazy to chase me, thank God! The ride was nice and peaceful. After a few more miles, I came to Hwy 175 where I took a right and headed into Frierson. This is a small town with one gas station. I stopped to top off my water and say hello to the lady working the cash register. We traded pleasantries and I climbed back on my steed to continue the journey. About 500 feet beyond the gas station is a left turn onto Gravel Point Road. At this point, I had to make a decision. I could continue on Gravel Point Road for a bit of gravel grinding and about 2 miles of added distance, or I could turn right and follow Friendship Road for a bit smoother sailing until the last mile or so. I chose the smoother sailing ...
Once on Friendship Road, I started to enjoy the ride more than before. It’s a nice country back road with very few vehicles. I passed a few homes here and there, then a farm with workers mending a fence. They looked up and laughed as I was spinning in granny gear to top the hill. I stopped to catch my breath. We said hello and off I went. I knew this road would take me along the West boundary of the WMA so I started looking for markers and signposts. I started seeing some WMA signs and knew I couldn’t be far from my goal. The road turned to gravel around this time as well. I had Bayou Pierre WMA on my left and International Paper forestland on my right. I came to a left curve in the road and stopped to take in the ride before I came to the end, which I knew was near. This is where the route becomes Lacoupe Road. I sipped some water, got back on the bike, and pedaled a few hundred yards over the Bayou Pierre Bridge and came to a stop at the sign-in station on the corner of Lacoupe Road and Par Rd 412. I made sure to properly sign in and walked the bike over to my favorite hammock spot.
The weather was absolutely perfect. The temperature was around 82 degrees and not overly humid as tends to be our Louisiana weather. I took a deep breath, then commenced to setting up camp. I spent a wonderful evening relaxing in the hammock, reading a good book, and watching deer play in the edge of the field. I heard some hogs squealing in the distance, and coyote packs howling at one another as night fell. I sighed with appreciation of how awesome my day had been. Times like this make me realize how much I truly love my home state of Louisiana ... we may not have grand vistas, and sweeping views, but we definitely have a special place in this world. You can immerse yourself in nature if you just pedal outside of town a few miles.
With a bug net and tarp over my hammock and a fire stoked throughout the night, I kept the critters and mosquitoes at bay. I was visited by a raccoon on one occasion. He sniffed around while staying just out of reach, but I know he was waiting to steal a bite from my food stash. I rested well and had no problem with my light blanket in the hammock. I woke around sunrise to a dew-covered camp. The temperature was around 60 degrees and absolutely perfect for my ride home.
I packed up camp and strapped my gear onto the bike, then headed over to the sign-out station and dropped my paperwork into the box. I decided to take a different route for the ride home. I followed Lacoupe Road to the west and took a left onto Yearwood Road. This was a route I’ve driven many times and it turned out to be a good mix of gravel and blacktop riding. I followed Yearwood Road until it came to Hwy 1 and took a left to head north. The shoulder of Hwy 1 is decent and offered plenty of room for safety while 18-wheelers passed me. Once Hwy 1 turns to four lanes around the Port area, the shoulder becomes a bit difficult with a rumble strip that will rattle you and your bike wildly. There’s still enough room to safely travel along the shoulder, but it’s a tight fit. Never the less, I stayed on Hwy 1 heading north until I came to the edge of town where my neighborhood sits just off the road. I turned into the neighborhood and headed home.
This was a great start to the spring bikepacking season for me. I’ll definitely be heading back in the next week or so. This time I’ll stick to the original route for out and return trips. Maybe next time, I’ll take a tripod and get some photos of the deer as they browse the fields in the evening.
Your favorite local bike shop? River City Cycling, 3787 Youree Drive, Shreveport, LA 71105
Bike overnight tips and tricks?
- Always sign in and out when visiting the WMA.
- The primitive camping area is beside the abandoned home site at the sign-in area.
- I always pack plenty of fuel for my alcohol stove. It can be hard to get a fire going if things are wet and a fire is a must for keeping mosquitoes and wild animals at bay during the night.
- Bring plenty of water or have a decent filter for use in the bayou.
- I wish I had brought more skeeter repellent ...