BHPC Trip Information

Butte La Rose Paddle Trail Network by Juliette Navratilova

The Butte la Rose Paddle Trail network gives paddlers big river action. Starting at the town of Butte la Rose, on the bank of the great Atchafalaya river, the trail follows the main channel southward, with several different routes west to the western border of the Basin. Here one encounters a clearly defined river, with clay bluff banks that obscure the swamps and lakes beyond its natural ridges. Though it is often as big and broad as a lake, its power is not to be underestimated. The Atchafalaya River is swift and deep and is known for its treacherous currents during flood stages. Though PFDs are a given, it would be far better not to enter the water when it’s high.

The Atchafalaya River goes by many names as it courses south: Below Butte la Rose, it is called Grand River, below Cow Bayou’s east end, it is called Bayou la Rompe, below Bayou L’Embarras’s east end, it becomes Little Devil Cut, then Tensas Bay, then Spice Island Chute before it joins the eastern main channel and becomes Bayou Chene Cut, before being called, once again, the Main Channel. It is a commercial shipping thoroughfare and paddlers must be aware of the towboats and pushboats plying its waters.

Bayou Benoit, at the south end of this section provides a distinct contrast to the rest of this trail network. A small but extremely beautiful lake, it protrudes northward from Grand Bayou along the west protection levee. This is the only trail in this section that doesnot require a shuttle, and which does not commit the paddler to a long distance trip.

These open waters are home, not only to the traditional wading birds, found throughout the Basin, but also Terns, Osprey, abd several species of Hawks.

After putting in at the Butte la Rose Landing, one has only to paddle less than a mile before seeing the entrance to Cow Bayou to the south. Accessible only when the water level is greater than 10’ at Butte la Rose, it provides a scenic shortcut (saving @ 1.5 miles), and the alternative of a petite winding waterway, back to the main channel at @ mile 5.5. There are several large ridges for camping in the vicinity of Cow Bayou’s outlet into the Atchafalaya. After proceeding south another 4 miles, a paddler will see Bayou L’Embarras to the east. This too, is a major waterway with significant current, though a fraction of the size of the atchafalaya River. From this point, it is a 10 mile paddle to Grand Bayou. Soon after entering Bayou L’Embarras, one will see a community of houseboats. After @ 4 miles, one will start to see natural Oak groves on both sides of the bayou. These provide many scenic places to camp. At @ 7 miles, Bayou L’Embarras becomes Lake Rond and the channel splits around Lake Rond Island. Here, too is a community of houseboats, and several opportunties for camping. Ten miles after leaving the Atchafalaya River, one will see Grand Bayou to the right. Paddling southeast on grand Bayou, after @ 1.5 miles, one will see the channel to Bayou Benoit to the north. After @ 2 miles, one will see the Grand Bayou Landing (also known as the Texaco Landing). Just after the landing is a large platform with winches and equipment. This landing is also a take-out and put-in point for paddle trails further south.;

Paddlers choosing to continue south on the Atchafalaya main channel past Bayou L’Embarrass can continue southeast on the Alligator Bayou Trail @ another 6.5 miles to the Bayou Crook Chene Cut or continue further on the Si Bon Trail @ another 5.5 miles to the Philip’s canal. Taking either of these routes to their west ends will necessitate either paddling upstream on the Lake Fausse Point Cut (also known as the GA Cut) to reach the Grand Bayou Landing, or paddling further south to the Sandy Cove Boat Landing; however, it should be noted that water levels at Butte la Rose must be greater than @ 10’ to float the Si Bon into the GA cut . The Grand Bayou Trail, along Grand Bayou and the GA cut is the water connection between the west end of these routes, and the different boat landings on the west side of the Basin.

Paddling south on the Alligator Bayou Trail, one will take Bayou Crook Chene cut, then choose either to turn west into scenic Alligator Bayou which then turns into Little Gonsoulin Bayou, which empties into the GA cut, or to turn south and take tiny, scenic Bayou Crook Chene to its junction with the Si Bon Trail.

Paddlers choosing to continue south on the Atchafalaya river to the Si Bon Trail, will turn west at the Philip’s canal, following it into the Si Bon canal, which also empties into the GA cut, when water levels are adequate. The Si Bon Canal is also an option to to access beautiful Bayou Gravenburg to the south, part of the Attakapas Trail Network.

Bayou Benoit, located in the southern most part of the Butte la Rose Paddle Trail network, is accessible from the Bayou Benoit Landing or by taking Schoeffler Chute north from Grand Bayou. Paddlers can go north several miles, threading their way through beautiful Cypress swamp to the east of the bayou or hugging the line of beautiful mature Cypress lining the west side. There is a healthy population of Osprey here; look for the large nests of sticks built on the very tops of trees. Nesting Osprey are very sensitive to disturbances so please observe from a discreet distance.

For maps of the area, go to http://www.bayoutrails.org

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