In the moss-covered cypress trees of the tupelo swamps and hardwood forests, the 1,786-acre Bogue Chitto State Park in southeastern Louisiana is a mysterious and wild natural playground to explore and enjoy all year long. One of the newest state parks in the nation, Bogue Chitto opened in 2010 in Washington Parish. The name comes from the Native Choctaw words bok chito, which means big creek. You’ll certainly find a big creek here in the Bogue Chitto River, as well as all the smaller tributaries around it.
With all of the available wetlands and the heat of Louisiana, visitors tend to gravitate toward water fun. Some of the most popular aquatic activities at Bogue Chitto State Park include rafting, tubing, and kayaking, as well as swimming and fishing. Most of the fun is had at the river, but a lot of visitors also enjoy the smaller and more peaceful Bonner Creek, which runs from the day-use area to the bottomlands of the park. But that’s not all! The park also has 11 lakes stocked with fish for you to enjoy!
If you get thirsty, grab a soda from the machine or a snowball from the snowball stand nearby. If you are not from the south, you may not know that a snowball is a shaved ice treat similar to a snow cone. There is also fun to be had on land here. You can hike, go horseback riding, or even explore a cave if you want to. If you would rather just sit by the RV and relax, you can do that too at one of the 81 spacious premium campsites.
Located just an hour north of New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain, Bogue Chitto State Park is just off of LA-25 in Washington Parish. The nearest town is Franklinton, which is just five miles to the north. To get to LA-25, you can take I-20 to the north, I-59 to the east, I-10 to the south, or I-55 to the west.
No matter which way you are coming from, most of the roadways are flat and wide with not much in the way of curviness to worry about. The most you may have to concern yourself with is how often to stop and enjoy the scenery of the south. Being so close to New Orleans you would expect crowds of people here, but this park is too far out in the middle of nowhere to have crowds. It is more of a hidden gem than most of the local parks, and you will probably need your GPS or a good map to get to Bogue Chitto.
With plenty of shops, eateries, and clubs in New Orleans, you may want to take a side trip there and check it out if you have time. Grab some gumbo or po-boys or try some of their famous crawfish before heading back to the park. If you have never been there, it would be a shame to be so close and miss the opportunity to see the Big Easy.
If you are a horse lover, feel free to bring your horse because this park has 100 equestrian campsites at their campground in the northern section of the park. Each site can handle RVs and trailers up to 55 feet long and have horse tie-ups, a large picnic table that seats eight, a campfire circle, and a BBQ grill to cook on. There is also a common area and water trough in the middle of the campground as well as a boardwalk just a short distance away near the park office.
The 14-mile bridle trail starts right at the campground for you to enjoy with your four-legged friends, and that includes your pooch as long as he is on a leash at all times. You must have a certificate for a clean Coggins test for your horse and there is a small fee to use the trail, which helps with trail maintenance. You can set your reservations online from one day to 13 months in advance.
These 35 premium campsites with water and 50-amp electric can accommodate rigs from 50 to 92 feet long. Make sure you check the length limit when reserving your site, which can be done up to 13 months in advance. Each of these waterfront sites is so close to the water that you can fish from your campsite. You are also within walking distance to the Bogue Chitto River where you can do some tubing, kayaking, or canoeing.
You will have the choice of cooking indoors or you can cook outside on the pedestal BBQ pit or campfire grill provided by the park. Of course, you can also use your own grill or camp stove. Each site also has a big picnic table that seats eight. No need to try balancing your plate on your lap in a camp or lawn chair. There are two comfort stations that have restrooms and showers within a short walk of all the campsites. Dogs are welcome as long as you keep them on a leash at all times.
If you want full hookups including sewer, the park boasts 46 premium campsites right in the middle of the park. Reservations can be made from one day to 13 months in advance but be sure to check the length limits to make sure you get what you need. Each site has different length limits for motorhomes from 50 to 92 feet long. You can bring your furbaby with you as well because pets are welcome. Just remember to keep them restrained at all times.
All sites have picnic tables for eight, a campfire ring, and a pedestal BBQ grill to cook on. These gravel sites are mostly level and well-maintained with plenty of shade as well as plenty of room for play. You will be near the park office, a comfort station with restrooms and showers, and the boardwalk as well as the five-mile Gorge Run multi-use trail where you can enjoy hiking or biking.
If you have a group larger than 14 people, the Group Camp Lodge at Bogue Chitto State Park is perfect for you. In the southernmost section of the park, this huge building has enough room for up to 52 people. There are two dormitories with bunks and bathrooms. Linens and bedding are provided. The common area and dining room seat all 52 guests at one time with 10 tables so everyone can eat meals together.
The commercial-sized kitchen has two stoves, microwaves, and ovens as well as a huge island for food prep, so it is easy to cook for the whole group at once. Outside you can find a volleyball court and horseshoe games as well as an 18-hole disc golf course. Just a short walk from Bogue Chitto River, your group can enjoy fishing, boating, and swimming right outside the lodge. Reservations can be made one day to 13 months in advance. Sorry, no pets allowed.
If your group is too large for a cabin, try the Upland Lodge, which is right next to the other cabins on the bluff. This modern home can accommodate up to 14 people with four bedrooms. Two of the bedrooms have two sets of bunk beds each and two have queen beds. There is also a sofa sleeper in the living room. Also in the living room, you can find a flatscreen television with cable, lounge chairs, and a cozy fireplace.
With a full kitchen that has all electric appliances, you can cook indoors in the air conditioning or outside on the grill. There is a screened porch where you can look over the bluff without being bothered by the bugs. But don’t get too comfortable, you’ll want to get out there and enjoy some of the park’s resources like the river, trails, and playgrounds for the kids. Reservations are required and can be made up to 13 months in advance.
The park offers four cozy cabins overlooking the bluffs in the northwestern corner of the park. Each cabin can accommodate up to eight guests with bunk beds, a sofa sleeper, and one queen-sized bed. Central air keeps the whole cabin cool during the hot Louisiana summers, and they have heat as well just in case it gets chilly. There is a living room with a couch, lounge chairs, flat-screen television with cable, and a fireplace.
The kitchen is fully furnished with all appliances that include a dishwasher and a washer/dryer combo. The dining table seats up to eight people, and there is even a screened porch with seating where you can enjoy the peace and quiet without bug bites. The full bathroom has basic needs like toilet paper and towels. Reservations are needed and can be made 13 months in advance. Pets are not allowed in any of the cabins.
The most popular trail for hiking at the park is the 5.1-mile Gorge Run Trail, which starts at the day-use area. The trails are best enjoyed during the fall since it is cooler, and you can see turkeys, deer, and other wildlife. You’ll meander along the creek at some points and walk along lakeshores at others. You can take a little 0.3-mile side trek on the Discover Nature Interpretive Loop that forks off the Gorge Run Trail. There will be a large sign just past the River Overlook Trail, which is a 0.2-mile spur trail near the end of the Gorge Run Trail.
Be sure to mount that bike rack to the RV before you leave so you can take your bike along. The mountain biking trails here are challenging as well as beautiful. There are four main trails at Bogue Chitto State Park totaling almost 21 miles with seven miles of these made for mountain biking. The Bird Dog Trail is 1.4 miles of singletrack rated as intermediate. The 2.5-mile Zephyr Trail takes you on a spiraling loop in the woods along the creek and over several hills. There are also several paths that take you to the beach.
If you like golfing or playing frisbee, you may want to check out disc golfing at Bogue Chitto State Park. Their 18-hole golf course is located in the southwestern corner of the park by the Group Camp Lodge. The object of the game is to get your disc into the hole at each tee with the least tries. Starting at the tee, just like golf, you will throw your disc as close to (or into) the hole, which is typically a chain basket. The hole lengths include nine under 300 feet, eight between 300 and 400 feet, and one that is over 400 feet. The 55-par course at Bogue Chitto is mostly hilly and wooded with narrow lanes and is perfect for those with all levels of experience. In fact, it is one of the highest-rated in this part of Louisiana.
The first thing to know is that there will be alligators. It can be dangerous to feed them or to get too close, so keep your distance. Fishing at the park can be fun in any of the 11 lakes, the creek, or the river. If you are looking for bass, crappie, or other topwater fish, try any kind of flies or worms on a bobber. For those catfish and other big lugs, put a big weight on your line with some live bait and toss it way out there. Then just sit back and wait for them to take the bait.
If you are not into swimming with the fishes, check out the water park at Bogue Chitto State Park. This fun 200-foot long water park is not just for the kids either! People of all ages can enjoy the cool wooden waterfalls and waterspouts everywhere. There are water slides as well, but these are mostly for the little ones. They even have a jungle gym and other playground equipment. Be sure to bring sunscreen and water because it can get mighty hot in Louisiana.
During the summer months from May through September, you can get a ride upriver and float back down for a fun day of sunning and splashing on the Bogue Chitto River. If you don’t have a tube, canoe, or kayak, you can rent one at the park. Pack some lunch and drinks in your cooler and bring it along so you can have a scenic picnic on one of the hidden sandbars along the river. White sandy beaches make this part of the river the most popular.