On a sunny day, it’s good to just grab a few snacks, find a wide brimmed hat, dig out the old sun block and sport a huge pair of sunglasses in hopes of discovering something beautiful and natural along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road. Spring and summer are stunning in Louisiana’s Outback. Butterflies, flora and fauna are at their peak, and alligators love sunning themselves along the banks.
So, once you get your car gassed up and supplies/snacks in the ice chest, you can hit the road. Take Exit 20 off Interstate 10 and follow Hwy. 27 south toward the Gulf of Mexico. If you want to do a little crabbing, now is your big chance! It’s loads of fun, and kids can really get into it too. What blue crabs lack in good looks and temperament, they make up for in taste. Nothing can compare to fresh blue crab! They’re easy to catch, and the whole family can join in the fun. May to September is prime *crabbing time.
Stop at any one of the bridges crossing the canals or make a beeline to one of the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge locations: Northline Recreation Area, Hog Island Gully Recreation Area, Blue Crab Recreation Area (formerly 1A/1B), or the West Cove Recreation Area. Bring your own or stop at any of the local stores to purchase some thick string and good crab bait — turkey or chicken necks, cut fish, or meat chunks are the best — a dip net and a pail or ice chest. Tie your bait to the end of the string, toss it in the water and wait for a slight pull. Slowly pull the line in and have your net at the ready to scoop up your crab before he gets wise and lets go!
Hitting the trail, you can see several wildlife refuges and attractions, including the Wetland Walkway at the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge or the newly refurbished Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge. Along the Wetland Walkway, you can actually walk out onto a raised platform walking trail that takes you right into the marsh where you can see alligators and other wildlife. Cameron Prairie has interactive exhibits including two shows where animated characters give a brief and interesting history of the Cajun/Creole people and the importance of preserving the wetlands. The Pintail Wildlife Drive is perfect for taking in the view of nature’s beauty right from your car window!
The Creole Nature Trail’s 26 miles of natural beaches are easily accessible offering a wide range of water activities. You can swim, tube, surf fish, observe shore birds, sunbathe and go shelling. They are particularly excellent for shelling. Some of the most complete and perfect shells can be found along Gulf beaches in Louisiana’s Outback, and parts of the beaches are even made of tiny wee shells. Located west of the Mississippi Delta, they are constantly replenished by the "muddy river's" southeast tidal flow which carries rich deposits of driftwood and a wide variety of shells including whelks, cockles, angelwings, cateyes, olives, wentletraps, coquinas and periwinkles.
For more information on the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road, visit http://www.creolenaturetrail.org/. For accommodations, other attractions and restaurants near the Creole Nature Trail, visit http://www.visitlakecharles.org/.
Individual crabbing for recreational purposes are not required to possess a basic recreational fishing license. However, persons using crab nets or crab lines on wildlife management areas or refuges must possess a basic and saltwater recreational fishing license or a Wild Louisiana Stamp. Please visit the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries website.