Heart of Louisiana: Hiking the Grand Canyon

Heart of Louisiana: Hiking the Grand Canyon

(WVUE) - If you want to do some serious hiking, like trekking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, you're most likely going to need months of preparation to get in shape for that kind of hike. Dave McNamara shows us how he did it by hiking some of his favorite trails in the Bayou State.

Hiking the Grand Canyon from the rim to the bottom is a grueling hike. It's a 7-10-mile trek that drops nearly a mile deep into an inner canyon gorge.

But once you drop below that rim, everything comes alive," said Tiffany Cooper.

"A huge bucket list item for, for a lot of people these days," said Eddie Bowers.

Bowers and Cooper are with Wildland Trekking, a company offering guided hikes around the world. For me, it is an ultimate family adventure, hiking down the canyon's South Kaibab Trail, taking in the amazing views that surround you as you step down steep ridgelines.

"'The downhill was much harder than I thought it was going to be.' That, I'd say that's the number one thing I hear from most people," Bowers said.

And it's a serious hike, one that can stretch and strain leg muscles past exhaustion.

"Train, train, train," Cooper said. "And we can pull people through the canyon. But to do it and have fun, you need to train."

Preparing to hike the Grand Canyon on trails in Louisiana is challenging in a state with no real mountains. The Kisatchie Hills National Forest in Central Louisiana offers several trails. I enjoy the Longleaf Vista Trail, a short 1.5-mile loop with more than 200 feet of ups and downs. And if you do it five times, you've hiked 7.5 miles with more than 1,000 feet of elevation change. The

Kisatchie also has the Caroline Dorman Trail - 10 miles with an elevation change of more than 500 feet, it's a good workout.

I tagged along with the Louisiana Hiking club in Sicily Island Hills, which has some steep trails in the northeast part of the state, and you're rewarded with a few small waterfalls.

And then there's a trail called "The Beast" at St. Francisville. It's a challenging 8-mile loop that's enjoyed by mountain bikers and casual hikers.

But if your home is near sea level, you have to get creative with some man-made options.

"If your apartment building has numerous sets of stairs, you can go up and don't forget to walk back down the stairs too, because that's just as important," Bowers said. "High school football stadium you can train doing bleachers."

I hated the stairs, and I loved them. Consider this: The elevation change in the Grand Canyon is equal to climbing and descending stairs in a 400-story building.

We're at the bottom of the Bright Angel Trail now, we're 8 miles to the top and close to a mile of elevation change. We're going to see if all of that training has paid off.

The hike up the bottom to the Canyon rim took us 8 hours, including stops for a few more photos and a picnic lunch. It was an amazing experience, and one that has me eager to get back on our Louisiana trails, trying to stay in shape and enjoying a different kind of beauty that's much closer to home.

Copyright 2018 WVUE. All rights reserved.