Tickfaw State Park is a welcome surprise just 40 minutes from the center of Baton Rouge and only 20 minutes if you live closer to Prairieville. Coincidentally, 225 chose Tickfaw as it’s top pick for camping, and I definitely agree. However, with young children (ages 3 and 1), I will do whatever I can to get everyone sleeping in their own beds for the night. For our family, Tickfaw State Park is where we go for a day of hiking, exploring, and letting our kids experience nature. We have been twice now as a family and are already making plans to return again soon. My 3-year old loves hiking “in the forest” and seeing the river, and we love that a quick drive in the car can get us a day of adventure.
After driving 9 miles off the interstate down a winding, tree-lined road, you reach the entrance to the park. You are greeted and asked to pay $2 cash per adult and children over the age of 3. Be sure to grab a map here and ask any other questions you may have. Once you enter the park, there are several different areas to explore. Your first stop may be the Nature Center, where you can get an up-close look at snakes and alligator skulls and browse the souvenirs in the gift shop. If your kids need to get some play in, they have a great playground (open year-round) and a splash park (open in the summer.) You can drive by the three camping areas on your way to the trail heads, and when you are ready, pick one of the three main hiking trails and start exploring!
Each hiking trail has its own parking area, clean restroom/drink facilities, and a covered pavillion. This is a great place to stop, eat, and potty before venturing on the trails. Much of the trails are gravel or wooden boardwalk and can easily accommodate a stroller (although we always make our kids walk or ride in a back carrier.) The trails are easy to navigate and as quick as you make them! The trails loop around and range from 20 mintues to an hour length and even include benches here and there. For younger children new to hiking, I would start with the Gum or Pine trails, which are short and easy. Older children or those up for more of a walk would enjoy the Bottomland and River trails at the very end of the park. These trails are longer and even venture off into natural, dirt trails. Whichever trail you choose, you are guaranteed beautiful scenery, some small animal/bug sightings, and kids having fun!
- good, closed-toed shoes with socks ON
- bug spray (especially in the warmer months)
- a bag for leaf/pinecone/rock collecting
- water bottles (you can fill up at the water fountains at each trail head)
- layered clothes for cooler weather
- a camera (it is a memorable experience)
- a change of clothes/shoes in the car (because they will probably get dirty)
Have you been to Tickfaw State Park before? What is your favorite feature of the park?