Trip OverviewJean Lafitte is a National Historic Park and Preserve located across the Mississippi River from New Orleans. When you enter the park, go directly to the Visitors Center to pick up a trail map. The canoe/kayak launch is located on Twin Canal, north of the visitors center on 45. There is a nice parking lot and a gravel platform to launch from; the launch area is also a popular fishing spot.
Twin canal is fairly narrow and shallow, follow it out to the main canal, Upper Kenta Canal. Here the canal widens and is lined on either side with forested and emergent wetlands. There are alligators a plenty- big and small! Also enjoy egrets, herons, kingfishers, and some crazy flying fish!
At the visitor center the park ranger told us the best route is to paddle south down Upper Kenta Canal, but we found the vegetation to be too thick. The whole area was over-run by water hyacinth during our visit in Sept 06. The only areas accessible were those treated for the invasive aquatic plant. So, we discovered another canal that begins on the opposite side of where Twin Canal meets Upper Kenta. This section, marked as Parallel Canal and Tarpaper Canal on the map from the visitors center, had been treated for hyacinth and was a beautiful and easy paddle.
Allow 2-4 hours to enjoy the area. This was one of my favorite paddles because it was so peaceful and secluded. Other than a few fishermen along the shore at the launch, we saw no other boats.
Accommodations:In addition to a canoe launch, Jean Lafitte has a great visitors center, trails, and picnic area. There are also several cultural exhibits associated with the preserve, but we did not visit them.
Fees:No fees or permits required
Directions:Take I-90 business from New Orleans to the west bank of the river. Exit at 4B, Barataria Blvd/route 45. Barataria Blvd will take you directly into the park and you will see signs along the way.
Resources:There is a website (http://www.nps.gov/jela/index.htm), but we did not find it particulary helpful.
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water