Heart of Louisiana: The Tammany Trace

Updated: Jan. 12, 2021 at 7:57 PM CST
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ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. (WVUE) - With more of us looking for things to do outdoors and socially distanced, bicycling is increasing in popularity. One of the best long-distance bikeways in Louisiana is located on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain in southern St. Tammany Parish.

The Tammany Trace runs through the forest, the backyards, and across the rivers and bayous of the parish. The 28-mile-long bikeway inherited its straight and level path from the old Illinois Central Gulf railroad line that was abandoned in the 1980s.

The first section of the trace opened in 1994 and now connects the communities of Covington, Abita Springs, Mandeville, Lacombe, and Slidell.

One end of the bike path starts at the old train depot in downtown Covington. It crosses the Bogafalaya River. Then it’s on to the town of Abita Springs after another bridge at the Abita River, halfway between Abita and Mandeville.

In downtown Mandeville, the trace dips below Highway 190 in a tunnel under the traffic.

The trace is also popular among joggers and walkers.

“We just kind of look for all the little animals; the birds, the squirrels, there’s the most beautiful owls I think I’ve ever seen that just hang out in the trees,” says MAria Buggage. “They just capture you.”

The trace cuts through the forest of Fountaibleu State Park then crosses over Bayou Cane. The old railroad trestle takes bikers over Bayou Lacombe.

The bikeway ends at the Slidell trailhead. The trace can be a serious workout or just a relaxing way to take a quiet journey.

“Today I rode 14 miles so, a short day for me,” says biker John Bellizan.

“We thought we’d start in Slidell, come to Lacombe and then go back to Slidell,” says George Lamperez. “It’s peaceful. There’s nobody on it but us sometimes.”

The Tammany Trace also features trailheads at several locations that offer parking, restrooms, and even play areas. That provides an opportunity to experience different sections of the bike path without having to peddle the entire 28-mile length. But what bikers say they enjoy the most about the experience is the natural scenery and solitude.

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