Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge

The Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge is a 15,000 acre tract of coastal marsh, oak rides and pine flatwoods. This pristine landscape is a rare example of the natural coast of Lake Pontchartrain, and is surrounded by rapidly developing communities. If you are looking for a peaceful place to unwind, you’ll love this preserve. You’ll find plenty of things to do while you’re here, including exploring the area’s countless bird species. It is located at 61389 LA-434, Lacombe, LA 70445.

The refuge has numerous opportunities for recreation, including fishing, environmental education, and interpretive tours. To visit the refuge, drive to Lacombe, Louisiana, and visit the visitor center at 61389 Highway 434. The visitor center is located two miles south of I-12 exit 74. There is a boardwalk trail, as well as hiking paths along Boy Scout Road. Parking is free and there are several ways to access the refuge from town.

The Refuge is home to a small population of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, which are critically endangered and reliant on old-growth pinewoods to survive. These birds can be difficult to spot, but they are present in the area. Other birds associated with pinewoods include Bachman’s Sparrow and Brown-headed Nuthatch. Bachman’s Sparrow is particularly distinctive, and its whistled song is a great indicator of where it’s most likely to be.

For a great hike, head to the Boy Scout Road Trail Interpretive Site, located at the southern end of Hwy 434 in Lacombe. The short boardwalk trail takes you through pine savannah habitat, with an overlook of the marsh and cheniers of oak trees. Along the way, you can look for red-cockaded woodpeckers, a beautiful bird that is endangered in the south.

The Bayou Lacombe Refuge is a stunning 15,000 acre coastal marsh and pine flatwoods. You can enjoy waterfowl hunting and fishing, wildlife photography, and sunset watching. The Refuge is open Monday through Friday from 7:30am to 4pm, but the Visitor Center is currently closed for Covid-19. Nonetheless, the Refuge’s lands are open to the public.

The Bayou Lacombe Museum was originally a school, but was dedicated to a museum during the Bicentennial celebration in 1976. It now serves as the cultural hub of Lacombe, LA. Known for its annual crab festival and Mardi Gras parade, Lacombe is also home to the Northshore – Bayou Lacombe Chamber of Commerce, the logo house, and the Lacombe Historical Society.

Before the Europeans arrived in Louisiana, there were several native groups that lived in this area. The first people to settle here were the Choctaw and Acolapissa, two tribes that were closely related. A legend claims that these tribes migrated to Lacombe to escape persecution. Regardless of the reason for their migration, the area is a wonderful place to enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

Nearby Bayou Sauvage, another access area, is on the south side of Highway 90 east of Ridge Trail. Highway 11 north of Highway 90 also offers additional marsh viewing. Stop carefully along the roadside to observe the birds, and you’ll be rewarded with some excellent bird life. The Black Skimmer, Brown Pelican, and Gull-billed Tern are among the more common species found here. A great place to also visit is

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