Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Monday, March 23, 2015

Exploring the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain

When I lived in Pennsylvania, Bob and I were avid bicyclists and we often rode on rail-trails (recreational trails used for hiking and biking, converted from old train tracks) which are all over the place in the southwest part of the state. I had been wanting to ride the Tammany Trace in Louisiana ever since I first heard about it several years ago. This trail connects the towns of Covington, Abita Springs, Mandeville, Lacombe, and Slidell along the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. According to the website, Tammany Trace is the only rail-trail in the state of Louisiana.

Our son Andrew played in a Wind Symphony concert in nearby Hammond this past weekend, which gave Bob and I the perfect opportunity to dust off the bikes and start pedaling!

Naturally, we wanted to explore the towns along the way. The trail begins (or ends, depending on where you start) in Covington and what a gem of a small town! Full of quaint streets lined with well-kept historical homes and fascinating shops and restaurants. But we were drawn like chicken to scratch to this amazing farmers' market! We could have spent hours at this happening place, but we had miles to go.

Across the street from the market there's a very interesting old cemetery.

Use a GPS to help you find the trail, as the locals don't seem to know where it is (or maybe we were just asking the wrong people). And parking wasn't as easy as we thought it should be, but no worries. Just three miles down the trail and we came to Abita Springs. They have a nice trailhead with a park, museum, and the Abita Brew Pub, which is the original location of Abita Brewery. Not terribly far from the trail, you can tour the Abita Brewery. I can sum up the brewery tour in four words. Crowded. Loud. Free. Beer. The first two words may be attributed to the particular time we went -- Saturday at 2:00, the final tour of the day. Not sure.

The Tammany Trace is a treasure; paved, well-maintained and well-used, at least on a lovely spring Saturday. The local communities plan events at the many parks along the trail. In Abita Springs, there was an Easter egg hunt in progress. Not far from that, there was an event to benefit a Down's Syndrome organization. In Mandeville, we perused a flea market and there was some sort of historical something going on. In between towns, the scenery is lovely. And this time of year, the wisteria and azaleas are in bloom.

Mandeville sits on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain, to the east of the causeway. Life there seems to happen along or near the waterfront. We had a fabulous dinner at Rip's on the Lake, touted as "The Best Seafood on the Northshore." Bob and I believe it! I had grouper and he had mahi-mahi. We shared an appetizer of crab cakes. It was one of those meals where you feel sad when it's over.

Bob gazing at sailboats on the water.

Because we aren't in our best biking shape ever, we headed back to Covington after Mandeville (round trip 23 miles). Lacombe and Slidell will have to wait until next time.

On our way home to Lake Charles the next day, we visited Tickfaw State Park. It's a beautiful park! Read about that in my next post.


Angie Kay Dilmore said...

PS: I discovered what the historical something was at Mandeville. It was a Jane Austen Literary Festival! There were photos of it in the Lake Charles American Press Sunday paper.

Common Household Mom said...

Wow! Fresh vegetables and herbs! Sunshine! Flowers blooming! I'm so glad to see that it is spring somewhere.