Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
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Facilities and Trails

Visitor Center
A place back in time

The complex visitor center, a restored 19th-century planter's house, is situated on the 40-acre Black Bayou Lake Environmental Education Center. It was purchased, moved and renovated with funds raised almost entirely from the private sector.

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The beautifully restored building contains interactive exhibits, which introduce visitors to the refuge's wildlife and habitats.  A "Touch Me!" table filled with bones, snake skins, fur, feathers and turtle shells provides hands-on learning for children. The center also has a meeting room and nature shop on the main floor and offices for the refuge's professional staff upstairs.

Because the refuge is wildlife habitat, everything from small alligators, turtles and wading birds to swamp rabbits, coyote and deer live in and around the ponds surrounding the Visitor Center. A large covered amphitheater behind the visitor center accommodates groups participating in refuge educational programs. A Nature Trail begins near the Visitor Center, beside an authentic plantation bell.

A new Conservation Learning Center, located adjacent to the visitor center, opened in October 2005. There, visitors can see live exhibits of native fishes, reptiles and amphibians and explore the Discovery Room.


Conservation Learning Center
A fun place to learn

In October 2005, the refuge opened the Conservation Learning Center. It was funded with $300,000 of community support, and a $150,000 matching grant from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. 

Two main features of the facility are the Aquarium Room with live exhibits of native fishes, reptiles and amphibians, and the Discovery Room with six learning stations, five computer stations, sinks, reading corner with books and wildlife puppets, and state of the art audio/visual equipment.  The Discovery Room can be set up for seating over 100 or with tables and chairs for 40.


Observation Deck
A peek into the swamp

A concrete walk and sloping ramp built through a baldcypress swamp lead to a raised observation deck which is wheelchair accessible . The covered deck has a spotting scope for observing a remote part of the lake.


Wildlife Pier
A walk on the lake

A 1,200-foot wildlife pier extends onto Black Bayou Lake, offering visitors a chance to view wildlife up close, or in the distance through two spotting scopes.

Visitors can fish, view the diverse bird life on the lake using spotting scopes, watch alligators stalk their prey or simply observe the rich diversity of aquatic plant life amid the bald cypress and tupelo trees. The wildlife pier is handicap accessible.


Nature Trail
A walk through the woods

A one mile, raised asphalt/boardwalk nature trail winds through a forested wetland and baldcypress brake.  Tree identification labels, inspirational interpretive panels and benches are located along the trail.  “Wetland Connections”, a trail brochure with natural history information, is available in the Visitor Center. 

The trail has two half miles loops and can be accessed from the Visitor Center parking lot, the amphitheater and the Wildlife Pier parking lot.


Photo Blind
A window on wildlife

The Photo Blind was opened in autumn 2005, providing a shaded, dry and protected place from which to observe birds and other wildlife. The project was funded by a grant from the National Wildlife Refuge Foundation.


Boat Launch
A popular spot

The Black Bayou Lake is a popular fishing spot.  Over 5,000 fishing boats are launched on the lake each year in pursuit of largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish and catfish. 

An improved boat launch ramp provides access to the tree-studded, 1,600 acre lake.  A $2 fee is required to launch any boat on the lake including canoes.  Motors are limited to a maximum of 50hp. Lake is open daylight to dusk.


Wetlands Art Project
From a different perspective...

The Wetlands Art Project opened up a little-visited part of the refuge with nature trails and interpretive stones. The installation by artist Alexis Wreden was fully funded by a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Arts.

Pay close attention to what you see and feel in this place. The Wetlands Art Project invites you to notice the textures of the ground, grasses and wood and to experience the water, sky and wildlife. Project elements. -- Alexis Wreden


Additional Features

  • An unsurfaced walking trail called the Edge Water Trail, which follows along the edge of Black Bayou Lake and Bayou De Siard.
  • A 100-seat shaded outdoor pavilion.
  • A birdwatching blind behind the Visitors Center.
  • A marked canoe trail on Black Bayou Lake that helps paddlers explore the lake without getting lost.



A green bungalow-style building looks serene in a country landscape

Our Visitor Center. Photo: USFWS.

Tanks and educational displays inside of the Conservation Learning Center

The view inside of the Conservation Learning Center. Photo: USFWS.

A gorgeous photo of the Observation Deck against a cloudy backdrop

The Observation Deck. Photo: Charlie Heck.

Last updated: November 15, 2011