By Chase Berenson
When it gets hot in Baton Rouge people often wish for a beautiful beach with cool water. Luckily, we have one right here in East Baton Rouge Parish.
The Blackwater Conservation Area is located out just a bit past the airport, and features three main draws for outdoors lovers: hiking, fishing, and beach swimming in the Comite River. The site where Blackwater’s located used to be a soil and gravel mine, which unsurprisingly depleted the natural surface of the land.
The mine was abandoned decades ago, and the land became overgrown with invasive species. The Parish decided to join forces with the Army Corps of Engineers, and they spent years revitalizing Blackwater.
They built natural features, constructed lakes, and replanted the whole park with natural vegetation. As the natural forest grows back in, traditional wildlife is returning in droves, making Blackwater a successful conservation story.
There are approximately three and a half miles of walking trails in the Conservation Area. Some trails circle the lakes, one trail runs parallel to the river, and the final trail is the one that brings you to the riverbank. The trails are wide, flat, and easy for a stroll in the sunshine. The two ponds in Blackwater are stocked with largemouth bass, channel catfish, and bluegill, and there are plenty of secluded fishing spots to wet your lure.
Once you’ve worked up a sweat and gotten hot exploring the trails in the sunshine, it’s time for the most exciting part of the conservation area.
At the end of the River Trail is the swimming beach on the banks of the Comite River. It feels like you and your friends are the only humans around and you have a private secluded beach from which to take a dip in the river and cool off. As you first enter the beach the mosquitoes make it tempting to keep your clothes on, but I’ve found that if you walk upstream a bit the mosquitoes leave you alone. You’ll want a towel to lay down, preferably an old one, because the sand is tinted brown from the Louisiana mud.
But beyond those two negatives, you truly discover the magic of the spot.
The river is winding through the forest, and as far up or downstream as you can see there are no signs of human development along the river. There is a bit of tree cover over the beach, providing spots of shade and a cool place to relax. The occasional fish splashes and jumps out of the water as it swims by. And of course, taking a dip in the river is the perfect way to cool off on a hot day.
Spring just started last week, but we all know that hot summer days are not far away. The Blackwater Conservation Area seems like the perfect solution for outdoor recreation even when the temperatures climb high. It is located at the corner of Hooper Road and Blackwater Road in Central.