Less than a mile down the road from Fountainbleu State Park toward Mandeville is the Northlake Nature Center , a four-hundred acre park that is absolutely beautiful.
(click on the pictures below to see the full sized version)
This park offers the opportunity to witness four different ecosystems AND a first hand look at an historic example of crooked Louisiana politicians. A recent archaeological survey revealed the Center site as home to ancient peoples more than 500 years ago.
At the end of the initial boardwalk, you will come to an unfinished "hideaway" club house
As stated in the photo below, this exclusive hideaway golf course initially was the idea of Louisiana Governor Leche in the late 1930's for his political cronies. This governor has the unique distinction of being the first Louisiana governor sentenced to prison.
Leche and several of his political pasls were indicted in what were termed the "Louisiana Scandals"
The hideaway was destroyed by fire in March 2010 and is not accessible. However, hubby and I took a trip into the park before the fire and got some of the following shots.
Beyond this piece of history is lush, serene swampland and forest.
There are several trails to choose from, all of them pretty primitive, so be prepared to watch where you step!
The boardwalk crosses what is purported to be an active beaver pond
But on this day we only spotted friendly turtles
Lots of turtles!
There are several benches along the boardwalks and paths through the woods.
This area seems to be where they hold nature seminars and is probably used for the annual Great Louisiana Birdfest that happens here.
We spotted this cypress at the edge of the pond.
Notice how the lower branches are bent down as a result of Katrina's winds.
There are several overlooks constructed throughout the park where you can take in all that this little environmental gem has to offer.
These pictures were taken in February of this year, thus the reason that everything looks muted. If August weren't so darned steamy, I'd love to be out there right now with my camera.
This photo whispers about the circle of life to me. You can see the victims of Katrina being used to nourish the new growth.
Amidst all that gray stood this proud little tree, all decked out in new green leaves.
Throughout the park are bridges which cross Bayou Castine
I'm not an avid hiker, but I managed to walk around the park for several hours and didn't feel the least bit tired (with the exception of my bursitis, but that's a sign of my age :) ).
If you ever want to get away from it all and just listen to the sounds of the woods and waterways, make your way to the Nothlake Nature Center to unwind.