Louisiana is a magnet for motorcyclists from all over the country. It’s hard to beat its sweeping roadways with beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife. And of course, no visit to the Bayou State would be complete without a stop or two at the roadside eateries serving up scrumptious Cajun fare. Po’boys, jambalaya, and crawfish await you.
Natchitoches: Creole plantation country
If you only have time for just one long, leisurely ride in Louisiana, this is it. Natchitoches (pronounce it “Nack-ah-tish”) is teeming with reminders of long-ago times. In fact, it’s the oldest settlement of the Louisiana Purchase. It was founded in 1714, which was four years before New Orleans was officially New Orleans. Louis Juchereau de St. Denis was a French-Canadian lieutenant who came up from the Gulf to establish a fort. He became friendly with a local Native American tribe, which gave the settlement its name.
Set against the Cane River Lake, Natchitoches is peppered with Creole plantations, and the roads are lined with live oaks dripping with beautiful Spanish moss. Take some time to sightsee around the city. You’ll see plenty of French Colonial architecture.
Head out to the parish roads and state highways that border Cane River Lake, and enjoy the leisurely ride through the Cane River National Heritage Area. Most of the old plantations you’ll see are private residences. If you have time, stop for a visit at Melrose Plantation, which is owned by a cultural heritage preservation group, and Oakland Plantation, which is a National Parks Service property. If you’re a John Wayne fan, you’ll recognize the building from The Horse Soldiers.
Route 22 from Sorrento to Ponchatoula
This is another route much prized by well-traveled bikers. Located in southern Louisiana, this stretch of asphalt is 35-plus miles of riverside and bayou views. Do take your time on this route. It’s a fun, twisty road, but there are some very sharp corners, especially near the French Settlement area. This particular stretch of road has seen its share of mishaps, so try to keep your speed under 15 mph around these corners. Head out in the early morning, before the four-wheeled traffic picks up.
Longleaf Scenic Byway
If you’re in the western part of the Bayou State, the Longleaf Scenic Byway is a must. Look for State Forest Road 59 and get ready for 17 miles of incredible two-lane trails. Cruise through the Kisatchie National Forest, and take advantage of the numerous turn-outs, with sweeping views of rocky bluffs, buttes, and hills. Scattered along the byway are six campgrounds to choose from.
As you head out of the Kisatchie National Forest, head into the Red Dirt National Wildlife Management Preserve, and check out the 36-mile Sandstone Multi-Use Trail. It allows motorcycles, but do watch out for hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. You’ll want to keep your speed low regardless, or you might miss the plethora of wildlife along this trail—everything from otters and turtles to bobcats and coyotes.
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More on “great scenic motorcycle routes in Louisiana”:
- Rider, Louisiana Motorcycle Rides: Nothing Like Natchitoches, http://ridermagazine.com/2009/04/28/louisiana-motorcycle-rides-natchitoches/
- My Scenic Drives, Longleaf Trail Scenic Byway, https://www.myscenicdrives.com/drives/louisiana/longleaf-trail-scenic-byway