The Louisiana Parish Highpoints

Driskill Mountain

Informational sign

The little red church

Beth starts in toward the trees

At the summit!

Allen Parish

Acadia Parish

The log pyres before
being alit. (St. John Parish)

Beth warms up near a pyre

Scott too. Mmm, toasty.

Winn Parish

Webster Parish

Is that all there is?
(Claiborne Parish)

Camp at Claiborne Lake

The friendly
Claiborne Lake kitty

Bonnie & Clyde marker, Gibsland

Our Louisiana haul

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Not many people go to Louisiana for the hiking, and I wouldn't normally either, but I wanted to visit the state highpoint at Driskill Mountain, so I knew I'd find myself in Louisiana at least once. I had friends in Baton Rouge way back in the 1990s, so I formulated a trip where I would visit them as well as a bunch of state highpoints in the Southeast, this being January 1997. And wouldn't you know, I botched my hike up Driskill Mountain when I was there that time. So I returned in 1999 to visit it properly.

In 2004, my wife and I drove to New Orleans for an extended Christmas holiday. Our focus on that trip was most certainly not the highpoints, but we had maps for a few that looked easy and wouldn't take too much time while in the area. We also visited Driskill Mountain so that Beth could log it for her records.

This page is a collection of my (and our) Louisiana journeys. To give you an idea how few people willingly visit the parish highpoints of Louisiana, both Beth and I, with nine apiece, rank near the top in the "most parish highpoints" category.

Truthfully, the county highpoints are ugly or duds, or both. There is so much more to see and do and eat in Louisiana than stepping on lame mounds of earth. But we're opportunists and we got a few anyway.

Driskill Mountain
• Highpoint: State of Louisiana
• Highpoint: Bienville Parish
• Highpoint: Ouachita Foothills
Dates: (1) March 15, 1999, (2) December 28, 2004 • Elevation: 535 feet • Prominence: 225 feet • Distance: 2 miles • Time: 40 minutes • Gain: 150 feet • Teammates: Beth in 2004

Driskill Mountain is the highest point in Louisiana, a hilltop that rises to 535 feet above sea level. Located in the northern part of the state near Jonesboro, Driskill Mountain takes just a few minutes to hike. The area is forested in piney woods, but an old road allows for easy, brush-free passage to the top. Despite all this, I messed up my first attempt in 1997. I came back in 1999 and hiked it successfully, then again in 2004 with Beth.

First visit, Unsuccessful (January 1997): I had flown into New Orleans a few days earlier for a few days of hiking the highest points of the southeastern states. I also had friends living in Baton Rouge, so I saved Driskill Mountain for last as I was heading back toward the southern part of the state.

I started today in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and popped over the state line into Louisiana, arriving to the highpoint area with no troubles. I parked near a small church just off the road, then walked the road into the trees a few hundred yards. I did not have my guidebook, and didn't think I'd need it for such a simple hike. In the trees, it all looked the same, and I could only see a few dozen yards ahead of me. I scampered up one hill, and figured this must be the highpoint. So I turned around and started the walk out.

I found a side-road with the chain strung across it, but did not know at the time I was to follow that to the real top. I walked back to my car with an uneasy feeling I hadn't hiked it properly. I drove out anyway, and had a good time with my pals down south, but when I got home and checked the guidebook, I knew I had missed it. How frustrating!

Second Visit, First Successful (March 15, 1999): For my 1999 Spring Break from teaching, I wanted to revisit two state highpoints that I had previously visited (or thought I had), but for various reasons left me dissatisfied about them. They were Oklahoma and Louisiana. I was successful on Oklahoma's Black Mesa in 1996, but I did it under such horrible conditions that I wanted to go back in better weather. Once done there, I drove south through the Texas panhandle into Lubbock. Admittedly I thought driving all those miles east to visit Louisiana's highpoint seemed a bit silly, but I decided to go for it anyway. I went east on Interstate-20 and stayed the night in Eastland, west of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

I awoke very early the next day, and began my drive from Eastland. I had about 380 miles to Louisiana’s Driskill Mountain, and more than once I doubted my sanity, but I pressed on anyway. Staying on Interstate-20, I encountered no significant delays, passed through Shreveport and drove another half hour to the town of Arcadia, and my jump-off point to Driskill Mountain. After getting gas, I drove the routes to the little country church that sits at the driveway of the highpoint. The scenery changed—an entire tract of trees near the church and along the highway had been felled for logging and were gone. I drove my truck in about a quarter-mile along the muddy access road, parked, and proceeded in.

In 1997, I had neglected to bring a map or my guidebooks and had no clue where to proceed once in the trees. The dense trees hid the land forms and it was not obvious where the true highpoint was. This time, I had my map and found the highpoint with no difficulty. As it turned out, it was one hill to the north of where I had gone the first time. After a few minutes, I hiked out back to my car, completing the round trip in about 30 minutes. All that driving for this.

Both objectives completed, I drove home to Arizona, over 1,300 miles away. I made a long push west to Abilene, then home to Arizona the next day.

Third Visit, Second Successful and Beth's First (December 28, 2004): After a few days in New Orleans and the Bayou country of Acadiana, highlighted by the only Christmas Day snow ever in New Orleans, Beth and I located ourselves to Natchitoches, which bills itself as the city of lights during the Holidays. We arrived about 6 p.m., got a hotel and drove into town, had dinner, then walked the waterfront and viewed the beautiful display of Christmas lights strung everywhere, some even spanning the river that passes through town.

The next day, we spent a couple hours driving around the Kisatchie National Forest and the piney-woods country in the area, eventually arriving to the church at the road where we parked and hiked to the top. On our hike out, a family of three showed up. Their car had Illinois plates and the man had a GPS unit, so we asked if they were going to the highpoint. He didn't say yes or no. I got the impression they were geo-cachers, and it's possible they were going to the highpoint as a geo-cache location, not knowing it was the state highpoint. I bet this is the most activity this highpoint has ever seen in one day.

We spent the night camped at Lake Claiborne State Park, where a cute black kitty made friends with us that evening.

The following trip reports are in chronological order, all done on our 2004 trip. We generally stayed south for a couple days, then drove north for a couple more days, skipping over a whole bunch in the mid part of the state. We had been in Houston visiting Beth's brother. When we entered into Louisiana, the rain was falling heavily.

Sixmile Rise
• Highpoint: Allen Parish
Date: December 22, 2004 • Elevation: 190 feet • Distance: drive-up • Time: 5 minutes • Gain: none

Our goal today was Lafayette, a couple hundred miles east, and along the way I hoped to tag a few parish highpoints, but the rain immediately cancelled all but a handful, those with paved road access. Our first attempt inside Louisiana would be the easy highpoint of Allen Parish.

From De Ridder, we journeyed east along State Route LA-112 to its junction with northbound LA-377. We turned onto route 377, which was in bad shape, and drove a bumpy three miles to the top of an obvious rise in the road, north of the Sixmile hurch. The presumed parish highpoint is off the road to the east in the woods.

I scouted the woods for the highspot then called out for Beth, who was sitting in the truck. I can't say I found anything obvious, just the usual slight bulges in the land. We stepped on a couple likely spots, snapped a photo and got on our way, with the Jefferson Davis Parish highspots next on the list. The rain was intense, easily an inch-an-hour rate.

Barnsdall Area
• Highpoint: Jefferson Davis Parish
Date: December 22, 2004 • Elevation: 55 feet • Distance: drive-up • Time: 30 minutes • Gain: 5 feet

We made our way south through Kinder, then east to the towns of Elton and Barnsdall along (or near) US-190. Five areas comprise the potential highpoint of Jefferson Davis Parish: one large area north of Barnsdall along the parish boundary and four smaller areas south, of which it is likely that most or all of these four have been artificially built up due to roadbed construction. We visited the southern areas first. Heavy, heavy rain kept our extra-vehicular activities short. Of these four areas, we felt berms along a dirt road might be as high as anything. There was nothing to get excited about.

For that northern area, we went north about a half-mile to a slight bend in the road, where a small stand of mature trees stood. The map showed us within the 55-foot contour and the ground near the trees seemed to be a couple of feet higher. However, the heavy rain and horrific mud made even walking this short of a distance difficult. We tagged the high ground and walked up on nearby high ground where the footing was better, then got moving.

The rain was so heavy that it pounded the roof of our truck, making normal conversation impossible.

Pitreville Areas
• Highpoint: Acadia Parish
Date: December 22, 2004 • Elevation: 57 feet • Distance: negligible • Time: 1 hour • Gain: negligible

We located ourselves near the small communities of Pitreville and Church Point, in the northeast corner of Acadia Parish. The highpoint would require some effort, as eleven areas in Acadia Parish reach above 55 feet, including one giant region covering many square miles. Three spot elevations within this large area reach 57 feet. The plan was to visit these three 57-foot points, drive all over this large area, then start inspecting the other ten smaller 55-foot contour areas.

Today had been a long day, the drive somewhat difficult mentally due to the incessant rain. We couldn't go very fast, visibility was sometimes just a few dozen yards, the rain fell so heavy at times the roads would flood, and it was loud. Our destination was Lafayette, now about 20 miles away, but I couldn't resist visiting the highpoints of Acadia Parish along the way. Beth, bless her patient heart, could have very easily given this one a miss, but she allowed me to indulge in my silly hobby and even helped with the map navigation. Extra neck rub for her!

We came into this largest area first, along eastbound US-190 toward the community of Swords, and followed state routes LA-752 and LA-751 south to where LA-751 junctions with LA-358. This is the northeast corner of the parish and location of one of the 57-foot spot elevations. We got out and looked around. We visited the second 57-foot spot elevation a few moments later, westbound along LA-358. About a mile later we came to the junction with LA-1103 at Pitreville. South along LA-1103 put us inside one of the bigger areas. At a corner in the road, I shot the photo you see here.

The third 57-foot spot elevation is found along Wagon Road south of a thicket of natural woods, which was higher by about a foot than the road, so in my opinion, this one area is the likeliest natural highpoint of the parish. We also toured Pamela and Gobert Roads and got back out onto LA-1103. All this took about a half-hour.

Next, we proceeded to Church Point and visited the small areas scattered about the town and the immediate area. They are all small and probably not the highpoint. We got slightly turned around on the roads and made some unplanned detours, but finally we found ourselves north of town along LA-35. A re-route of the highway confused us, since our map was apparently not up-to-date.

The last were a pair of areas along Plaquemines Road near the parish boundary. The rain stayed light for most of this journey, which took a total of about an hour to complete. From here we drove into Opelousas and Lafayette and treated ourselves a fine Cajun dinner at Prejean's, a famous restaurant and music hangout along Interstate-49 north of Lafayette. I dug into some gumbo while the both of us ate alligator for the first time ever.

As far as parish highpoints go, we didn't bother with any for a few days as we explored in and around New Orleans. We spent a half-day driving south on less-traveled state routes. We drove to Houma for no particular reason. It was a place to go then turn around. We also drove to the Cypremont State Park.

There were two parish highpoints that we explored while down this way. One is a salt-dome hill called Weeks Island in Iberia Parish. It is owned by the Morton Salt Company. I had emailed them for permission before we left but they declined to allow us on. We drove there anyway, but it's surrounded by substantial fencing, so we continued on our way.

We also looked at the Saint Mary Parish highpoint, on Cote Blanche Island. We were deep into the bayou, where it can be hard to tell what's land and what's swamp. Cote Blanche Island is apparently another salt dome, given its elevation of about 93 feet above sea level. We drove to where a private ferry would take cars across about 500 feet of bayou. I called the number on the sign and a guy answered. When I told him what we wanted to do, he apologized and said he couldn't allow us to come over. I expected that response, so we were not surprised.

Yes, I did consider the Orleans Parish highpoint, which contains New Orleans. It was not convenient to get to and even I felt no particular urge to waste time finding it.

We enjoyed our drive in the bayou, fascinated by the scenery, homes on stilts, water up to the road, and the whole vibe. You don't see too much of this in Arizona!

Fiftymile Point
• Highpoint: St. John the Baptist Parish
Date: December 27, 2004 • Elevation: 25 feet • Distance: none • Time: 2 minutes • Gain: none

Beth and I were in Louisiana for the Christmas holidays, and naturally, trying to visit some of the parish highpoints, mostly with no luck. However, the highpoint of St. John the Baptist Parish apparently is an exception. The highpoint is a sand bar that rises to 25 feet elevation and apparently is not altered or covered over by a levee. Not only that, there's a road close to it. Given all the other fascinating distractions this part of the state has to offer, we surrounded the 10-minute visit to this highpoint with about three or four days of other fun activities.

Beth and I actually arrived in the area three days earlier, coming to the towns of Gramercy and Lutcher on the 24th (Christmas Eve) to view an amazing spectacle: dozens of massive log pyres lined along the levees, set alight as the sun set, to herald Christmas. Apparently this is a tradition dating back over a hundred years. We arrived about 2 in the afternoon and sat in the truck until 7, when the pyres were lit. Thousands of people were in attendance, walking along the levees and taking in the sights, as were we. The weather was very cold, in the mid 20s, and the fires felt great. Some pyres were 20-30 feet tall, and the builders take pride in building them to burn with maximum efficiency and ferocity. You obviously don't just pile up a bunch of logs. There's an art to it. Beth tells me some families do this as tradition and each has their own style.

Aside from the pyres, the levees and nearby roads were choked with vendors and people out for the experience. Local families would set up stands selling home-cooked meals. I bought a chicken dinner meal in the best of traditional soul-food cooking from one of the local families, and the food was wonderful. Seriously, I could have moved in with them just for the food alone!

So we watched the pyres from our truck as well as walking among them, and we hung out until about 10 p.m. At some point the cold started to get to us and we wanted to get to our hotel, which we'd booked in the small community of Laplace about 30 miles west of New Orleans along Interstate-10. The plan was to visit the St. John's parish highpoint on Christmas Day, on our way to New Orleans.

Well, Christmas Day started with freezing rain, sleet and snow. Sections of Interstate-10 had been shut and the main bridges were being shut due to ice conditions. This forced our hand: we got our fannies into New Orleans before they shut the whole interstate, which they actually did for half the day. We skidded and slid into town and took refuge at a casino, where we each won about $30, paying for a Christmas meal and a movie later on. We walked around the area, but the conditions were biting and most people stayed in. This was the first snow in New Orleans in 15 years and the first time it ever snowed on Christmas Day.

The next day was stupendous: clear, with temperatures in the 50s. It's like the snow never happened. We spent the whole day walking the roads around the French Quarter, going into the shops, checking out the statues, and playing tourist. This was our "official" New Orleans tourist day. We stayed in a hotel near Metairie.

The next day, Beth's Birthday, was going to be our "plantation mansions tour" day. These homes date from the plantation era of the 1700s and 1800s, going back to when the French had control of the area. The mansions are interesting, but the humongous oaks that lined the walkways were far more impressive to me. We toured a couple of the plantations and this took up about most of the morning. Once done with the plantations, we drove a couple hours north and ended the day in Natchitoches, where we had a birthday dinner and a walking tour of the downtown, where their big thing is to string up lights everywhere, and it was very pretty.

Oh yes, the highpoint. That's why you're reading this. We did that this morning before the plantations. We exited Interstate-10 at Gramercy and went over the giant bridge that spans the Mississippi River onto state route LA-18 to a point east of the community of Wallace. From here we left the road and took a dirt road up over a levee and down into the sand-bar area that holds the parish highpoint. The levee itself is about 34 feet elevation (say the maps), while the "natural" highpoint is about 25 feet. The area was open dirt, some trees, some work trucks, a mix. We explored the high ground and figured we visited the highspot at some point, but frankly, we didn't spend a whole lot of time here.

Plantation Photos

Plantation Oak Walkway

Old big feller

Plantation kitty

More oaks

The grand porch

Debutante Beth

Now we were in the north part of the state...

Range Road Rise
• Highpoint: Winn Parish
Date: December 28, 2004 • Elevation: 460 feet • Distance: 0.1 mile • Time: 5 minutes • Gain: 10 feet

We started today in Natchitoches where we celebrated Beth's birthday with a dinner at a local restaurant and toured the city's downtown, which was strung with Christmas lights everywhere. Today was devoted to a series of very easy parish highpoints, topped off by a visit to the state highpoint at Driskill Mountain.

First on today's agenda was the highpoint of Winn Parish, about 25 miles to the northeast of Natchitoches. We got onto US-84 eastbound toward Winnfield, and then turned north onto Range Road, across from the Gum Springs Campground within the Kisatchie National Forest. We went north 1.2 miles then turned left and stopped at a gate spanning the road. The highpoint was a few feet of walking past the gate to a rise in the road. We explored the nearby woods for higher ground, but the cleared area looked highest. The visit took five minutes.

From here we drove into Winnfield, then north toward our next objective, Lincoln Parish, near the state highpoint at Driskill Mountain.

Southwest Corner
• Highpoint: Lincoln Parish
Date: December 28, 2004 • Elevation: 420 feet • Distance: 0.2 mile • Time: 15 minutes • Gain: 30 feet

This easily-reached parish highpoint is located a few hundred yards west of Louisiana state highway LA-147 about three-quarters of a mile north of its junction with LA-797, in the southwest portion of Lincoln Parish a few miles south of the town of Oak Grove. We drove north through the towns of Jonesboro and Hodge then onto highway LA-147 and passing a paper-manufacturing plant that emitted a horrible stench. You could smell it a mile away. How do the locals put up with it?

After passing the LA-797 turnoff, we proceeded north to the little dirt road on the west side of the highway where we could actually see the hill in the near distance. The area had been logged recently, hence the open views. We drove in and parked in a clearing, then walked up the road to the highest area, located off the road. The immediate area was muddy and grim to look at, but views over the countryside were nice, this hill having decent prominence by Louisiana standards.

From here, we got onto route LA-797, which led us to the state highpoint on Driskill Mountain, a ten-minute drive to the south. Scroll up to read that one, then back down to here.

Germantown Rise
• Highpoint: Webster Parish
• Kisatchie National Forest
Date: December 28, 2004 • Elevation: 480 feet • Distance: 200 ft • Time: 10 minutes • Gain: 20 feet

After our visit to Driskill Mountain, we detoured to visit a stone marker along the highway marking where Bonnie and Clyde met their end in an ambush in 1934. Appropriately, the marker itself was riddled in bulletholes. We were content to shoot it with our camera. From here, we drove into Gibsland and Interstate-20, then onto Minden. We stopped at a local grocery to get supplies for this evening's camp we had planned.

The Webster Parish highpoint is located north of Minden along Germantown Road, which heads to Germantown. The highpoint itself is a little hump in the Kisatchie National Forest. We had a little trouble getting out of Minden due to some confusing (and missing) signs. South of Germantown, we turned onto Kisatchie Road 829, then on that for less than a mile to a small parking turnaround, a few feet from the highpoint. Unfortunately the area was being used as a dump. A recently-cleaned deer carcass was nearby as well as an old sofa.

We walked about 200 feet to the highpoint hill. Undergrowth was light, probably much moreso than what we'd find here in summer, so this made our going easier. Once we got to the "top", we had to bend and squirm through the vines and scrub. We spent a few moments here, nothing more, then returned to the truck and toward Claiborne Parish. After another short highpoint jaunt, we were on our way to Claiborne Lake and its friendly local kitty.

Old Athens Rise
• Highpoint: Claiborne Parish
Date: December 28, 2004 • Elevation: 505 feet • Distance: Drive-up • Time: 5 minutes • Gain: none

We headed east toward the town of Athens, from which we'd go northeast to Lake Claiborne State Park, a popular campsite and fishing spot in northern Louisiana where we planned to camp. Claiborne Parish's highpoint is along the way, so we visited it.

From the town of Old Athens, we went north past a church and cemetary for a mile, then east on Fire Tower Road for 0.3 mile, then northeast on the unnamed road to the top. The top is a cleared area ringed by trees. We stayed long enough to get a photo of me, and that was all. This otherwise unremarkable spot is the second-highest parish highpoint in the state, after Driskill Mountain.

From here we continued on to Lake Claiborne and found a spot to set up for the night. The lake is very big and popular for fishing. However, on our visit the water level was way down. Even walking out to the end of the pier, I was standing over mud.

That night we had ourselves a good fire and sat around it, checking out the stars. A very cute and friendly black kitty hung around us, and we pet it and gave it some treats. It may have belonged to a nearby camper or even the camp-host. Or it may have been a stray. That night it pawed at our tent door to get in. I hope it has a good home.

The next day we looked at two other parish highpoints, in Caddo and Bossier parishes, but passed on both. I walked in a little in Caddo Parish, but came upon some very scary "residences" and thought better than to try my luck. In Bossier Parish, there were hunters everywhere, so we didn't even bother. We entered into Texas and visited one more county highpoint in Cass County then started the long drive home.

(c) 1997, 1999, 2004, 2016 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.