For those of us who crave an exhilarating hiking adventure away from our usual local spots, New Orleans has plenty to offer. While the city is known for its vibrant culture and lively streets, it also boasts hidden gems for nature enthusiasts both in town and a car ride away!

So, grab your hiking boots, pack some essentials, and embark on a journey to explore the natural beauty that surrounds the Crescent City. (and if you are just looking to just go running check this out!)

Note: This is in order of distance, and all their travel times were calculated from Canal Street at the river. All times have also been rounded up or down by five-minute increments.


Justen Williams, New Orleans & Co.

Lafitte Greenway

500 N. Norman C. Francis Parkway, New Orleans, LA
10 Minutes

Just a short 10-minute drive from Downtown New Orleans, the Lafitte Greenway offers a unique opportunity to escape the urban hustle and connect with nature. Originally a canal, this dedicated green space stretches from the edge of the French Quarter to Mid-City, opening up to City Park. With a smooth asphalt bed, this park provides a serene hike through the diverse neighborhoods it traverses. There are also a number of snack and drink options along the way, including Flour Moon Bagels, Wrong Iron, Parkway Tavern, and Bayou Beer Garden–which means you won’t have to wander too far from the path to supplement your step-count with sustenance.

Rebecca Todd
Couturie Forest

Couturie Forest 

1009 Harrison Ave., New Orleans, La. 
15 Minutes

Couturie Forest is a hidden oasis tucked inside New Orleans City Park, located about 15 minutes away from downtown. This enchanting forest is home to eight distinct ecosystems and boasts the city's highest elevation point. Wander through the trails with your children and experience the thrill of venturing off the beaten path without actually leaving the city. Birdwatching enthusiasts will especially appreciate the abundance of feathered friends that call this forest home.

Woodlands Conservancy 

449 F Edward Hebert Blvd., Belle Chasse, La. 70037
20 minutes

The Woodlands in Belle Chasse is an expansive conservancy that’s home to three separate trails–totaling 5.5 miles of scenic beauty. Each trail offers a unique experience, from the parallel biking and equestrian trails of the Bottomland Trail to the hiking loop trail of the Upland Trail. Immerse yourself in nature as you explore the diverse landscapes and canal-side views.

Rebecca Todd, New Orleans & Co.
Bayou Sauvage - Palmetto Trail

Bayou Sauvage NWR

20876 Chef Menteur Hwy., New Orleans, LA
30 Minutes

For a more secluded hiking experience, head 30 minutes east to Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. This out-and-back trail is a haven for birdwatchers, hikers, and runners alike. Escape the crowds and enjoy solitary outdoor time surrounded by the breathtaking natural beauty of the refuge. Don't forget to clean up after your furry companions if you decide to bring them along!

Bonnet Carre Spillway Nomambo Bike Trail 

Lower Guide Levee Rd., Norco, LA
30 Minutes

While not strictly a hiking spot, the Bonnet Carre Spillway Nomambo Bike Trail offers an adventure for mountain biking enthusiasts. Just a 30-minute drive from the city, this trail features tight and twisty tracks and beautiful foliage. Please check the trail's open status, as high water levels in the Mississippi River spillway may cause temporary closures.


Rebecca Todd, New Orleans & Co.
Barataria Preserve

Barataria Preserve 

6588 Barataria Blvd.
30 Minutes

Barataria Preserve offers visitors a chance to explore more than 26,000 acres of wild Louisiana wetlands. This preserve is home to a variety of ecosystems including forests, swamps, bayous, and marshes, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Louisiana’s unique wildlife. You can enjoy hiking, picnicking, fishing, and hunting (during season and with permits) in this diverse natural area.

Don't miss the opportunity to visit the visitor center, where you can watch films and explore exhibits that provide insight into the geography and wildlife of the area. 

Northlake Nature Center 

23135 U.S. Hwy 190
45 Minutes

The Northlake Nature Center in Mandeville offers visitors the chance to experience three different ecosystems: hardwood forest, pine-hardwood forest, and pond-swamp. The center features raised boardwalks that allow you to observe the natural beauty of the area, including beaver dams and lodges.

In addition to its natural features, the Northlake Nature Center also holds cultural significance, with archaeological evidence of a 700-year-old Native American population and the ruins of a clubhouse for Louisiana Governor Richard W. Leche's unfinished golf course. Take advantage of the outdoor classrooms and interpretive signs to enhance your visit.

Camp Salmen Nature Park 

35122 Parish Pkwy., Slidell, LA
45 Minutes

Located in Slidell, Camp Salmen Nature Park offers a glimpse into both natural and historical wonders. This 130-acre park features nature trails that allow you to observe local flora, fauna, and bird habitats. Keep an eye out for deer, migratory birds, reptiles, and lush plant life.


Image Courtesy of Louisiana Tourism
Fontainebleau State Park

Fontainebleau State Park 

62883 LA-1089, Mandeville, LA
50 Minutes

Fontainebleau State Park is bordered by Lake Pontchartrain, Bayou Cane, and Bayou Castine. The park's nature trail is a favorite among nature lovers, with interpretive signs to help identify common trees and shrubs. Keep an eye out for the diverse bird species that inhabit the park's diverse ecosystems.

Boy Scout Road Trail at Big Branch Marsh Wildlife Refuge 

61389 Hwy. 434, Lacombe, LA
60 Minutes

The Boy Scout Road Trail at Big Branch Marsh Wildlife Refuge offers visitors over 18,000 acres of diverse habitats, including marshes, offshore grass beds, hardwood hammocks, and pine flatwood forests. This refuge is home to a variety of wildlife, including shorebirds, waterfowl, fish, and the threatened Red-cockaded Woodpecker.

Lake Ramsey Preserve 

Horse Branch Rd., Covington, LA
60 Minutes

Located across the lake in Covington, Lake Ramsey Preserve offers visitors the chance to explore local forest communities, including longleaf pine savanna, longleaf flatwoods, and small stream forests. Walk along the informative boardwalk that runs through portions of the preserve and observe a wide variety of fascinating plants, including carnivorous pitcher plants.

These are just a few of the nature-enveloped hikes waiting to be discovered in and around New Orleans. From tranquil forests to vibrant wetlands, the area offers a diverse range of landscapes to explore. So, leave the city behind for a while and embark on a journey that will rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul amidst the natural wonders of the beautiful state of Louisiana.