The Sabine Island Wildlife Management Area is without a doubt one of the best paddling destinations in the state of Louisiana. If paddling in Louisiana conjures images of huge alligators, flocks of waterbirds, massive cypress trees with dangling Spanish moss, all part of an enormous cypress swamp with endless small channels that only a human powered vessel could ever explore, then this place is for you.
The Sabine Island is not really an island at all, rather it is a mass of cypress formed by a fork in the Sabine River, straddling the Louisiana-Texas border. The easiest point of access is the Niblett Bluff campground, a nice facility with all necessities and a nice bit of civil war history as well.
From the boat launch at Niblett Bluff you can paddle south for about a mile and you are out of sight of any civilization whatsoever. From here take any channel west and you will enter the Cypress maze and some of the thickest swampland left in the south.
Alligators are in abundance here, as are slider turtles, and very interesting birds like Anhingas, woodpeckers, and Kingfishers. I've seen a Bald Eagle here on one occasion, and this is not a surprise because the waters here are teaming with big fish, especially large bass, catfish, and alligator gar. In the summer the area abounds in flowers and foliage.
All in all the area is about six miles from north to south, and about four miles in depth from the Louisiana side to the Texas side. If you want to experience some true Louisiana paddling, then the Sabine Island Wildlife Management Area is definitely one of the best choices.
Can't stress enough, once you enter the cypress swamp this place is a maze, would recommend GPS with extra batteries as well as the old standby compass and google earth map. There is no cell phone signal here.
The Niblett Bluff campground is a modern one with all expected facilities, along with a general store and a fishing store. All other accommodations are available in nearby Lake Charles.
none unless you want to hunt or fish
From Lake Charles LA, proceed west on 1-10 about 24 miles until reaching the exit for LA-109 at Toomey, LA. Take the exit and travel west on LA-109 for about 2 miles, until coming to Niblett Bluff Road. Turn left onto Niblett Bluff Road and follow it west until the road dead ends at the Niblett Bluff campground. The boat launch is on the north side of the campground.
The Book "Canoeing Louisiana" by Ernest Herndon contains a nice description of this area.
- Trip Duration: Day Trip
- Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)