The Tree - Cat Island NWR

After years of waiting for the Mississippi River to recede below flood stage in  Louisiana, The Backpacker Vice President, Tyler Hicks, made the hour long drive to bring his family to Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge to see the giant cypresses including the largest Bald Cypress in the United States and largest tree West of the Sierra Nevadas. “The Tree” at 1,000 years old did not disappoint and the handful of other giants would each be showstoppers on any normal hike.

This area is normally covered in 20 feet of water this time of year, so don’t miss your chance to make the 20 minute drive past the Magnolia Cafe in downtown St Francisville and the easy 10 minute hike on the well maintained “Big Cypress” trail to see this spectacular tree.  

As shown in the video below, there are two single-file "low river" crossings which regularly cut off access to the hiking trails.  The trail and entrance roads in this swampland can easily become muddy and impassable after strong rains.  Check the park's info page for any warnings before you go. The area is also home to black bear, wild boar, and poisonous snakes.  Long pants are recommended and consider exploring with a partner.

If you'd like to help protect these trees, consider a donation to the Friends of Cat Island group who was out on this day rebuilding the boardwalk around "The Tree."