Fontainebleau State Park
The crumbling brick ruins of a sugar mill built in 1829 by Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville, founder of the nearby town of Mandeville, suggest an interesting history for this site, and indeed there is. The wealthy Marigny developed this area across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans as a sugar plantation until 1852. The plantation income helped support his lavish lifestyle. He named his large land holding Fontainebleau after the beautiful forest near Paris, a favorite recreation area of the French kings.
The 2,800-acre park is located on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. On a clear day, visitors can see the lake dotted with multi-colored sailboats of all sizes and types. The sandy beach also is a delight for sunbathers. An old railroad track that runs through the park has been converted into the Tammany Trace as a part of the Rails to Trails program. It is a wonderful route for cycling, hiking and in-line skating. After a full day of activities, overnight guests can enjoy the rustic charm of the campground or the scenic setting of the lakefront cabins.
The park's nature trail is a favorite of nature lovers. Interpretive signs along the trail will help you identify many of the common trees and shrubs. Always be on the lookout for birds and other animals. Over 400 different species live in and around Fontainebleau. The Fontainebleau Birding Guide is a good resource for enthusiasts to identify the numerous species of birds found in the area. Bordered on three sides by water--Lake Pontchartrain, Bayou Cane and Bayou Castine--and characterized by a convergence of diverse ecosystems, it has a multitude of habitats for birds.
Cabins/Lodges/Group Camp: Basic cookware, cooking utensils, dinnerware, silverware, towels and linens are provided. Bring your own food and personal supplies; group camp visitors will also need to bring their own dishes, silverware, paper products, bathroom tissue, towels and linens. (click here for facility layouts)
Water Playground - Louisiana State Parks' water playgrounds operate 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, from April 1 through September 30. Please contact the park directly, to confirm that the playground is open or for additional information.
Trails at Fontainebleau State Park:
Fort Pike State Historic Site (adjacent to Old Spanish Trail on Old US 90, approximately 23 miles east of downtown New Orleans) - This historic masonry fort was completed in 1827 to defend New Orleans. Stroll through arched casemates and stand overlooking the Rigolets as sentries once did, enjoy living history programs, visit the museum or picnic at the pavilion.
Fairview-Riverside State Park (2 miles east of Madisonville on LA Hwy. 22) - Nestled among magnificent live oaks and situated on the cool clear waters of the Tchefuncte River, this gem of a state park features 81 improved campsites, excellent fishing, canoeing and picnicking. A nearby boat ramp offers access to the park and Lake Pontchartrain.
Town of Mandeville (I-10 to US 190 north of New Orleans, on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain) - Take the longest bridge over water in the world to scenic byways, swamp tours, antiques, shopping, festivals and trails.
Town of Madisonville (LA 22 northwest of US 190 on the Tchefuncte River) - Nostalgic river town of Tchefuncte River with great restaurants, antiques, boating and specialty shops.
Town of Covington (I-12 to US 190) - A charming town of specialty shops, antiques, scenic byways, festivals, trails, campgrounds and B&Bs. A short drive from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
St. Bernard State Park (18 miles southeast of New Orleans at Poydras) - Located on the Mississippi River, just minutes from New Orleans, the park features 51 improved campsites, a covered pavilion with grill, picnic tables, playground, swimming pool and nature trail in a tranquil and quiet setting.
Bayou Segnette State Park (7777 Westbank Expressway, Westwego) - Minutes from New Orleans, the park offers 98 improved campsites, wave pool, conference center, playgrounds, picnic tables and pavilions, a large boat launch, and abundant wildlife.
Tammany Trace (Koop Drive, Mandeville) - Thirty-one miles of this "Rails-to-Trails" conversion are open from Slidell to Abita Springs. The Trace is a popular spot for cyclists, horseback riders, runners, skaters and walkers.
New Orleans and the Historic French Quarter - Visit downtown New Orleans' museums, casinos, Aquarium of the Americas, the Riverwalk, or take a cruise on the Mississippi River.
Louisiana State Museum (French Quarter, New Orleans) - One of New Orleans' top ten attractions, the State Museum is comprised of the Cabildo, Presbytère, 1850 House and the Old U.S. Mint.
Antique Shopping in Ponchatoula - "America's Antique City."
Swamp Tours - Contact local guides for tours of Honey Island Swamp.
Pearl River Wildlife Management Area (2 miles east of Slidell in St. Tammany Parish) - This 34,896-acre area is managed for wildlife and includes a cypress-tupelo swamp and hardwoods. Visitors may enjoy fishing, canoeing, boating, birding, crawfishing, hunting, a nature walk and rifle range.