Bayou Teche Paddle Trail, Louisiana

Bayou Teche Paddle Trail is a 135-mile-long paddle trail through four parishes and 13 towns along this historically and culturally significant bayou in Louisiana.

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National Recreation Trail

Designated in 2015


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The Bayou Teche is a small watershed within the Mississippi River Basin, draining approximately 58,500 acres of natural, agricultural, and urban lands into Vermilion Bay. Bayou Teche runs 136 miles from Port Barre to Berwick through St. Landry, St. Martin, Iberia, and St. Mary parishes and is easily accessed from several state highways and Interstate 10. The water trail flows through the towns of Port Barre, Arnaudville, Breaux Bridge, Parks, St. Martinville, Loureauville, New Iberia, Jeanerette, Charenton (Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana lands), Baldwin, Franklin, Patterson, Berwick, and small villages in between. Each town has a standard motorboat launch and many are equipped with floating docks specifically designed for kayaks and canoes. Primitive camping is available.

The Bayou Teche takes you on a journey into the geographical heart of Acadiana. Once described as the “most richly storied of the interior waters, and the most opulent,” this body of water was the center of a booming cypress industry in the early 1900s. The Teche winds its way through four parishes and ends in the Atchafalaya Basin, an essential source of food, timber, and fur, a refuge for escaped slaves, and a natural resource for enterprising Cajuns and Creoles.

Early economic development of the Atchafalaya Basin hinged on the Bayou Teche. Before roads, the Teche, not the Atchafalaya, was the highway from the Gulf of Mexico to the heart of Louisiana. The Teche was navigable over 100 miles. Several Bayou Teche settlements materialized because of the timber and waterborne economy.

Two major Native American tribes lived along the banks of the Teche for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. They were the Chitimacha, who settled along the lower sections of the Bayou and still have tribal lands around what is now Charenton, and the Attakapas tribe, which settled along the upper sections of the Bayou from its headwaters around what is now Port Barre to the area now known as St. Martinville. The Bayou was named by the Chitimacha Tribe.

Bayou Teche wildlife and vegetation are abundant. Birdwatchers will see wood ducks, herons, kingfishers, and warblers along the entire stretch of Bayou Teche. Paddlers with fishing poles can fish for catfish, sac-au-lait (crappie), or bream (blue gill). Cypress trees line the banks of the bayou and great live oaks draped in Spanish moss provide evidence of where small Acadian plantations once operated.

For more information or to download paddle trail maps visit the Teche Project website.

 

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