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Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge conserves over 9,000 acres of once-vast coastal bottomland hardwood forest and bald cypress-tupelo swamp habitats. Whether you enjoy paddling, fishing, wildlife viewing, hiking or hunting – Bayou Teche has an outdoor recreation opportunity for you! 


The refuge is a popular place to enjoy fishing, hunting, paddling, bird watching and nature photography. There are several hiking and paddling trails that will introduce you to the refuges’ habitats and let you experience wildlife. A boat launch in Franklin provides access to refuge waterways and paddle trails. Bird-watching from the levee trails is recommended during spring migration.  Squirrel hunting is a popular tradition in the fall. Please be aware that some trails may be closed to hikers during hunting season.


Refuge hiking trails are open February 1 - September 30, during daylight hours. Hiking trails, (except the Garden City Interpretive Boardwalk Trail and Franklin hiking trail), are closed to hikers during the hunting season for public safety.  These trails travel through bottomland hardwood forest and/or along levees. Look for neotropical birds during the spring and watch for alligators in the canals.  Knee high mud boots may come in handy during the wet season. Insect repellent and sunscreen are also recommended. Trails are periodically mowed and cleared of brush as weather and staffing permit, so a sense of adventure can sometimes be an asset! 

Other Facilities in the Complex

Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge is managed as part of the Bayou Sauvage Urban National Wildlife Refuges Complex. The National Wildlife Refuges in Southeast Louisiana are part of a rich ecological system which includes marshes, pine and bottomland hardwood forests, lakes, barrier islands, swamps and bayous. Ranging from the marshy delta at the mouth of the Mississippi, to the wetlands that help protect New Orleans from hurricanes and provide a nursery to the fisheries that support the region’s food economy, to the wild bayous of the Atchafalaya Basin; your Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges preserve wildlife, habitat, and recreation opportunities representative of this unique part of the country.

All of the Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges are open to public visits for nature-based recreational enjoyment. Priority public uses are hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, environmental education, and interpretation.

The refuge complex headquarters is located at 61389 Hwy 434, Lacombe, Louisiana 70445. This site also hosts the Bayou Lacombe Visitor Center and has walking trails that wind through an historic garden site and along Bayou Lacombe.

Rules and Policies

To protect the public and natural resources the following activities are prohibited on Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge:   

  • Motorized watercraft in the Franklin Unit Canals -- Hanson, Wood Duck, Black Bear and Alligator canals -- from September 1 through April 15 
  • Feeding, enticing, or disturbing bears, alligators, or any other wildlife
  • Target shooting, camping, campfires 
  • Parking or hunting within 150 feet of any active oil well site, production facility, or equipment
  • Possession or use of toxic lead shot while hunting on the refuge, except for deer hunting 
  • Taking, collecting, or injuring wildlife or plants 
  • Commercial hunting or fishing of any kind 
  • Motorized vehicles off public roads, designated trails, and parking areas 
  • Use of airboats
  • Horseback riding and ATVs 
  • Use of drones. 

Non-emergency complaints of violation on refuge lands should be reported to refuge law enforcement (985) 882-2041. 

To report general wildlife violations in Louisiana: Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Operation Game Thief Hotline: 800-442-2511. 


Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge
C/O Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge1725 Willow StreetFranklin,LA70538