Plan Your Visit

512x219_egrets_bs_photo copyright_tom_carlisle

Located just northeast of New Orleans, Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge is a marsh and wetland habitat rich in wildlife and recreation opportunities. The Refuge is a popular place to enjoy fishing, hiking, paddling, bird watching, nature photography, youth waterfowl hunting, self-guided tours, and interpretive and educational programs.


Phone Numbers/Email  

General Information: 985/882-2000 

Law Enforcement: 985/882-2041 

Email: southeastlouisianarefuges.gov

Mailing Address/Headquarters and Visitor Center: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Louisiana National Widlife Refuges, 61389 Hwy 434, Lacombe, La 70445

How to get there:

Crabbing Bridge Road is a popular fishing and crabbing area located at the south end of the old Hwy 11 bridge over Lake Ponchartrain. An unpaved 1.4 mile dirt road leads to a closed-to-traffic bridge over Little Irish Bayou. GPS coordinates: 30° 9’ 14.50” N 89° 51’ 25.9” W

From Slidell: Take I-10 west. At the end of the I-10 twin span bridge over Lake Ponchartrain, take Irish Bayou #254/Hwy 11 exit. Carefully turn left to access the frontage road that runs between the lake and the westbound interstate ramp. Follow this dirt road 1.4 miles to reach the old bridge over Irish Bayou.

From New Orleans: Take I-10 east to the Irish Bayou/Hwy 11 exit. Turn left onto Hwy 11 and follow Hwy 11 across the I-10 overpass. Carefully turn left to access the frontage road that runs between the lake and the westbound interstate ramp. Follow this dirt road 1.4 miles to reach the old bridge over Irish Bayou.

Ridge Trail features a ½ mile long looped interpretive boardwalk trail, restrooms and a picnic pavillion. Take a virtual Google Earth tour of the Ridge Trail Interpretive Boardwalk trail at this link. GPS coordinates: 30° 3’ 13” N 89° 52’ 50” W

From Slidell: Take I-10 west. At the end of the I-10 twin span bridge over Lake Ponchartrain, take Irish Bayou #254/Hwy 11 exit. Turn left onto Highway 11. (The Refuge is on both sides of Highway 11 once you pass through the hurricane protection levee). At the Hwy 11 and Hwy 90/Chef Menteur Hwy intersection turn right and travel two miles to reach the Ridge Trail entrance on the right.

From New Orleans: Take I-10 east to exit #246A (Chalmette, I-510); go about 2 miles south on I-510 to Highway 90 East exit; turn left onto Hwy 90, and go approximately 4 miles to reach the Ridge Trail access on the left.

Joe Madere Marsh Canoe Launch site has a picnic pavilion and a short boardwalk that leads to a marsh overlook. The waterway is silted in, most times of year paddling is no longer possible here. This is a good place to look for shorebirds and waterfowl. Take a virtual Google Earth tour of the Joe Madere site at this link. GPS coordinates: 30° 3’ 13” N 89° 52’ 35” W

From Slidell: Take I-10 west. At the end of the I-10 twin span bridge over Lake Ponchartrain, take Irish Bayou #254/Hwy 11 exit. Turn left onto Highway 11. (The Refuge is on both sides of Highway 11 once you pass through the hurricane protection levee). At the Hwy 11 and Hwy 90/Chef Menteur Hwy intersection turn right and travel 1.7 miles to reach the entrance on the left.

From New Orleans: Take I-10 east to exit #246A (Chalmette, I-510); go about 2 miles south on I-510 to Highway 90 East exit; turn left onto Hwy 90, and go approximately 4.3 miles to reach entrance on your right.

Hwy 11 Boat Launch provides access to a canal leading to Lake Maisson and Lake Antoine. GPS coordinates: 30° 7’ 7” N 89° 52’ 00” W

From Slidell: Take I-10 west. At the end of the I-10 twin span bridge over Lake Ponchartrain, take Irish Bayou #254/Hwy 11 exit. Travel approximately 2.5 miles south on Hwy 11 to reach boat launch on the right.

From New Orleans: Take I-10 east to exit #246A (Chalmette, I-510); go about 2 miles south on I-510 to Highway 90 East exit; turn left onto Hwy 90, following it to the Hwy 11 intersection. Turn left from Hwy 90 onto Hwy 11 and travel 3 miles to reach the boat launch on the left.

Download a map of the Refuge at this link.

Know before you go:  

Visitors are welcome on the Refuge seven days a week, during daylight hours, The Refuge is closed at night.

Paddling:  Bayou Sauvage NWR waterways are accessible from two public launch sites on the Refuge. One is located on the west side of Hwy 11, approximately 2.5 miles south of the Hwy. 11/Irish Channel exit off of I-10. The Hwy 11 launch provides access to canals and shallow interior lakes. The Joe Madere Marsh overlook and canoe launch on U.S. Hwy 90/Chef Menteur Hwy is located 1.7 miles west of the Hwy 11/Hwy 90 junction. The Joe Madere Marsh access is becoming overgrown and shallow — a natural marsh process — so paddling opportunities at this site may be limited to high water times of year. Paddlers may also launch from the lakeshore or the Little Irish Bayou area at the south end of the Hwy 11 bridge over Lake Ponchartrain.

Hiking: The Ridge Trail site, located on Hwy 90 two-miles west of the Hwy 11/Hwy 90 junction, is the most popular access point on the refuge. A 2/3 mile-long interpretive boardwalk loop trail provides views of bottomland hardwood forest and marsh habitats. It is also possible to hike the levees within the Refuge. Please note: For safety reasons, all areas of the refuge located outside the Hurricane Protection Levee are closed to public entry until after 12 noon from November 1 – January 31, and during the state teal season, except for youth waterfowl hunting which is allowed until 12 noon.

Boating: To protect the marsh, only outboard motors 25 HP or less are permitted in waters inside the Hurricane Protection Levees. A boat launch is located on the west side of Hwy 11, approximately 2 miles south of the Irish Channel exit #245 off 1-10. The Hwy 11 launch provides access to canals and some shallow interior lakes.

Feeding alligators is prohibited. Encouraging gators to approach humans as a source of food is dangerous for people and pets and unhealthy for the alligators.  

Do not leave valuables in your vehicle.

Pets must be on a leash.

Please help keep your waterways and refuge clean and healthy — pack it in, pack it out.

The Refuge has little shade and can be buggy much of the year. Be sure to bring drinking water, insect repellent, and sunscreen.

Hunters and anglers must observe state and refuge specific regulations. More information at this link.