Where is Chicot State Park
3469 Chicot Park Rd, Ville Platte, LA 70586
Chicot State Park is located in south-central Louisiana, seven miles north of Ville Platte. It is situated in the Prairie Cajun Country between the Atchafalaya Basin swamps and the hills of central Louisiana. The park is halfway between Alexandria and Lafayette, straddled by two major routes, US-167 and I-49. Whichever way you’re coming from, getting to Chicot State Park is a breeze. Additionally, the park has many entrances available for use. Not only is it the biggest and one of the oldest state parks in all of Louisiana, but the park also houses some breathtaking landscapes.
How Big is Chicot State Park
Chicot US State Park is the biggest in the state, covering over 6,400 acres. Mature hardwood uplands and extensive beech-magnolia forest areas make for a truly stunning terrain. The 300-acre Louisiana State Arboretum, an area devoted to the preservation of the state’s indigenous plants, is adjacent to the main entrance. There are over 150 plant species, from magnolia and sycamores to oaks and ferns. In the arboretum alone, there are over 5.5 miles of hiking trails. Additionally, a small share of the park is dedicated to Lake Chicot, a 200-acre lake. There is also a 22-mile trail that encircles the lake, offering great day hikes, as well as backpacking opportunities.
Chicot State Park Weather
The weather at Chicot State Park usually maintains mild conditions throughout the year. The hottest months to visit are June, July, and August, with temperatures likely in the 80s. In December, January, and February, the temperature rarely drops below 40°F during the daytime. Both the fall and spring seasons range from the low 70s in March and November to the mid-70s in April and October and up to the 80s in May and September. The wettest month is in December, with the park averaging a little over 23 inches of rain per year. The windiest month is in March. The park can get crowded in the busy season, which starts in April and lasts until October.
When did Chicot become a State Park
Chicot State Park is one of the oldest in Louisiana. It was added to the state park system in 1939 under the direction of the National Park Service. The Civilian Conversation Corps (CCC) built significant improvements to the park during the midst of the Great Depression. Between 1933 and 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt developed a series of public work projects to help restart the economy. The Civilian Conversation Corps was a program under the New Deal that put unemployed men to work conserving the nation’s natural resources. Chicot State Park was one among many parks that was built-out by the CCC.
Things to do in Chicot State Park
There are many activities available in Chicot State Park. Our State Park Visitors Guide outlines the main sites and best things to do below.
The park offers a unique water playground that the whole family can enjoy. It is open during the high season, from April to October. There are even paved areas with fountains that sprout out from the ground, which can help you cool off from the hot weather.
Fresh Water Fishing
Lake Chicot offers some amazing freshwater fishing opportunities. There is a wide variety of fish species in the lake, including bluegill, crappie, sunfish, and largemouth bass. Anglers can also enjoy two big and well-maintained docks at each campground. Fishing can also be done on a boat or from the shoreline.
There are many trailheads to explore throughout Chicot State Park. The trails branch from the massive 20-mile loop around the lake. There are options available for daily hikers or something more challenging for backpackers. You can choose a trail that most appeals to you. Keep in mind – many of the paths are very hilly.
The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, armadillos, turtles, coyotes, bobcats, and snakes. You can rest assured knowing encountering wildlife is pretty much a given at Chicot. Be on the lookout for black bears and poisonous snakes, which are more common during the off-season when the park is less crowded.
Chicot State Park is part of a migratory bird route, with several bird species throughout the park. The best places to spot them is on the Chicot State Park Loop Trail, the Arboretum Loop, and on the shores of Lake Chicot. Otters, ducks, hawks, songbirds, and owls are some of the most common sightings. Early mornings and evenings when the park empties out are some of the best times to go birding.
Canoeing and kayaking are popular activities on Lake Chicot. There is even a designated 8-mile canoe trail through the lake. You can access the trail from either boat launch. It gives amazing views of the park’s scenery.
The trails aren’t solely meant for hikers. Mountain bikers are welcome as well. There are plenty of challenges hills that dominate the park’s landscape. We recommend the 22-mile loop around the lake that can be accomplished much faster on the bike compared to walking.
Louisiana State Arboretum
With over 300-acres of diverse topography, this beech-magnolia forest houses over 150 plant species native to Louisiana. There is a 5.5-mile trail through the arboretum that gives visitors a good synopsis of the area.
There are plenty of camping options within the park, with nearly 200 recreational vehicle campsites. South Landing and North Landing are the two main campgrounds available to visitors. Additionally, there are many deluxe cabins, lodges, and a group camp complex that can accommodate 112 people.
Acadian Town of Ville Platte
The town of Ville Platte is located seven miles south of Chicot State Park. Ville Platte translates to “flat town” in French. It has strong Agrarian and Cajun traditions. Many French cultural influences are still present through the language, music, and cuisine.
When to go to Chicot State Park
The park is open from sunrise to sunset, 7 days a week, year-round. Those with camping permits are allowed to stay through the night. Reservations can be made up to 12 months in advance, which is recommended for those that want a full hookup site and a water view. Chicot State Park can be visited all year long, with seasonal activities varying per the weather. In the warmer months, visitors enjoy fishing, boating, water recreation, hiking and various park programs. In the off-season, however, there is still plenty to do. Many take advantage of the bird watching opportunities, as many bird species migrate for the winter. Anglers can also go fishing in less crowded waters during the quieter season. Crappie, bass, and bream are especially popular catches during the spring and fall. Regardless of the season, there’s always fun to be had at Chicot State Park.
Must-Have things to bring to Chicot State Park
There are a few must-have items when visiting Chicot State Park. List of Parks covers all of that here:
Most of the activities at Chicot State Park are centered around the lake, especially in the summer. You can explore the lake from a canoe, kayak or boat rental. There is also much shoreline available for swimming and a water park to cool off from the heat. A bathing suit is an essential item to bring on your visit.
There is no lack of hiking trails in Chicot State Park., with many trailheads spread across the park. They all branch or join from the main 20-mile Chicot Loop Trail. These mini trails can get confusing. To help with navigation, bring a park map. They are offered at the front gate.
Speaking of hiking, you need to be armed with plenty of water when hitting the trails. Many routes have sections that are quite steep and difficult to scale. You can get dehydrated quickly with all this physical activity, especially in the summer heat. Bring water to stay hydrated throughout the day.
There are many camping sites located along the lake for backpackers who plan to hike the full 20-mile loop. Remember to bring light hiking materials, proper hiking boots, and anything else needed for an overnight adventure under the stars.
Chicot State Park is full of ticks, flies, mosquitoes, and other bugs. Remember to pack bug spray to help avoid an unwanted critter. After your hike, it’s a good idea to do a full-body tick check, just in case.
Chicot State Park hosts a variety of wildlife, black bears included. Though a rare sighting, it’s important to be on the lookout and steer clear of any bears. Bring bear spray as an extra precaution and don’t forget to keep an eye on what’s going on around you at all times!
As mentioned earlier, Chicot is a renowned migratory bird route. Lake Chicot is where most of them lie, waiting to prey on the fish. Bring a pair of binoculars to get a closer look at all the bird species flying through the park. You can use them to view the various wildlife and plant species as well.
Canoe or Kayak
Don’t hesitate to pack your canoe or kayak if traveling by car. There are some great trails in Lake Chicot to take advantage of. If you’re flying or don’t have access to a paddle boat, there are plenty of options available to rent.
Fishing along the 20 miles of Lake Chicot is truly something spectacular. We definitely recommend packing your fishing gear (rods, reels, bait, etc.) Anglers can cast out from the shoreline, pier, or even a boat.
A daytrip is never complete without the right snacks. You may need a pick-me-up on your hike, fishing adventure, or simply when sunbathing along the shore. Bars, nut, fruit and crackers are all great options.
Where to stay in Chicot State Park
Chicot State Park offers hundreds of campsites, as well as cabins with lake views. The campgrounds can be used for tents or RVs. Each campsite comes with a picnic table and fire pit. Some have full hookups, while others offer partial hookups with water and electricity. The South Landing campground is located by the main entrance and includes a playground, boat launch, fishing pier, and dock for boat rentals. The North Landing campground features 90 campsites with water and electricity, a boat launch, dock, fishing pier, and a primitive group-camping area. North Landing is accessible only through the South Landing main entrance.
Food Nearby Chicot State Park
There is a store within the park that offers food, gifts, fuel, and fishing bait. Several restaurants can be found just outside of Chicot, including Cajun Catfish Buffet, Café De La Salle, Big D’s Smokehouse, Spicy Kitchen, and the Frosty Inn. Each are about a quick 10-minute drive from the park.
Airports near Chicot State Park
Nearby airports include Mamou Municipal Airport, Baton Rouge Airport, Lafayette Regional Airport, and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. You will have to drive to the park from the airport. It’s a very easy drive. The park can be found off of two major routes, US-167 and 1-49, depending on the direction you’re coming from.