(WVUE) - The state of Louisiana is loaded with places to hike and explore the outdoors, from short flatland hikes to longer, more challenging treks up and down hill country. And some of those hikes can lead you to surprising places - like genuine Louisiana waterfalls
On a cloudy Saturday morning, about a dozen hikers drive to the Sicily Island Hills Wildlife Management Area in Northeast Louisiana. It's a drastic change in landscape from the nearby farms of the flat Mississippi Delta.
"I'm originally from the flat lands of Plaquemine in the Atchafalaya Basin, soil pigeon, so coming here, these are almost mountains," said Obie Watts.
When you're accustomed to flat Louisiana - the marshes and swamps, sugarcane fields, rice fields, cotton fields - some of these trails can feel a little steep. But that's what makes it fun. Here, some of the hilltops reach almost 250 feet above sea level.
McNamara: "Were you expecting this in Louisiana?"
Hiker Lee Veenendaal, Denham Springs: "No, I was not expecting the up and down here that we're getting here in Louisiana."
About a half-mile down this roller coaster-like trail is something else that's quite unusual in Louisiana.
"I'm pretty sure this is the highest waterfall in Louisiana, the one that we're getting ready to hike down to. And I think it might be like 17 feet high," said Mike Vanetten.
By Louisiana standards, a waterfall that's nearly 20 feet tall is worth seeing. And the best to time to visit is after it rains.
"There's not a huge watershed feeding this, so it pretty much needs a good rainfall for the flow to pick up," Vanetten said. "Never knew we had waterfalls in Louisiana, you know, until joining the hiking club."
Mike Vanetten joined the Louisiana Hiking Club seven years ago. He leads his fellow hikers to several small waterfalls that spill and cascade over the rocky landscape. They flow into deep creek bottoms that make you think you've left the Bayou State.
"A lot of exercise, and enjoying the outdoors," Vanetten said. "It's good hiking with a group. It's safer hiking with a group. I have been to many more places now in Louisiana."
You can find a surprising number of wilderness hikes around Louisiana. From the rocky trails of the Kisatchie National Forest in Central Louisiana to a scenic hike around Lake Chicot near Ville Platte. And along the Comite River Trail just north of Baton Rouge. And hiking always requires a little preparation.
"If you don't know the trail, it's better to go hiking with somebody that does know the trail," Vanetten said. "Many trails are adequately marked, but some trails surprisingly are not marked as well as they probably should be."
Hiking the trail is a good place to unplug, to get some exercise, to experience nature and discover some of the hidden gems of our state. The Louisiana Hiking Club has regular hikes on the second Saturday of each month