Know Your NOLA

Hiking in City Park: Socially Distant Secret Trails with your Canine Companion

Free, kid-friendly and canine compatible!

Many New Orleanians are starting to get restless as we enter another week of quarantine. 

Luckily, there are some nearby trails where you can stretch your legs while maintaining social distance from others. 

Bonus — this excursion is 100% free and dog-friendly!

My dog Huckleberry and I recently went for a hike in City Park and found some hidden trails off the beaten path. 

Most people already know about the loop around the Big Lake, but there are tons of smaller walking areas that are free, dog-friendly, and open to the public during daylight hours.

These secret paths are perfect for a hike during the lockdown as they are practically devoid of other humans and dogs.

This is always a plus, but it is especially important at a time when we need to be distancing ourselves from other hikers. 

Escaping into nature is a wonderful way to relax during these stressful times. If you need a breath of fresh air, grab your trusty dog(s) and check out these serene walkways that are just steps away from the bustle of the city.

Supplies to Bring:

  • Portable water bowl and bottle of water
  • Plastic bags for pet waste clean up
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat (parts of the trail are in direct sun)
  • Bug spray
  • Dog treats / human snacks
  • Leash and/or longline 

Directions and Parking

The best place to park is in the free parking area adjacent to Pan-American Stadium. 

The address that you can put into your GPS device is 194 Zachary Taylor Drive, New Orleans, LA 70130.

Park your car in the gravel parking lot near the intersection of Zachary Taylor Drive and Wisner Blvd. When we arrived, we were the only ones there! A few more cars had arrived by the time we left.

After you park your vehicle, walk north towards a beautiful meadow with paved walkways, meandering through it. 

This is the beginning of your journey.

Hitting the Trails

I gave Huck some water before starting our hike and I switched him onto his longline.

A long-line is a 30-foot leash used for distance training. It’s perfect for giving your dog a bit more freedom to explore while still abiding by the Orleans Parish leash law and being respectful to other park visitors. 

Please keep your dog on a leash or longline at all times and pick up pet waste. There are trash cans at various intervals for discarding poop bags. 

The path is paved and well-maintained. There are different forks in the road where you must choose your direction.

Parts of the path are shady while other parts are in the direct sun. Due to this fact, it is ideal to take this walk in the morning before the sun gets too high in the sky.

Likewise, this hike will be too hot to attempt in late summer, so do it now before the temperature really begins to climb. 

When you get to Harrison Avenue, you can veer to the left and continue wandering along shaded paths. 

You may encounter a few bikers or disc golfers in this area so be on the lookout. 

There are quaint bridges and small structures throughout this area. There are lovely spots to put down a blanket and stop for a snack.

If you have a more energetic dog, you can continue on to the Couturie Forest or Scout Island for a longer adventure.

The Couturie Forest

The Couturie Forest is directly across Harrison Avenue. It is a tranquil woodland area with multiple trails leading through the undergrowth.

It is a habitat for many native species. Alligators are occasionally spotted in the body of water so use caution near the banks.

The Couturie Forest is shady and peaceful and full of pleasant surprises.

The forest can feel like a maze while you are in it, so you may want to bring along this handy trail map.

Scout Island

Scout Island is further along Harrison Avenue toward Marconi Drive. It is a small island accessible by pedestrian bridges.

According to local New Orleanians, Scout Island was once the location for many Boy Scout, Girl Scout and Cub Scout training activities, cookouts and campfires.

These days, Scout Island is the setting for an outdoor haunted scream park during Halloween. If you hike around the Island during the offseason you may stumble upon creepy structures and spooky props as you explore.

When it comes time to head back, you can wander back towards your car along different paths than the ones you took on your way out.

The whole adventure can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on your pace and how far you and your pup wish to venture.

TL/DR:

Address of Trailhead: 194 Zachary Taylor Drive, New Orleans, LA 70130
Hours of Operation: Daylight Hours
Dog Friendly? Yes!
Kid-Friendly? Yes!
Price of Admission: Free!