Road Trip to Driskill Mountains August 14 and 15, 2003

From swampland to cotton fields to pine forests and finally to the mountains of Louisiana. This trip included it all. Along the way I'm sure there were many people who thought that these two crazy cajuns had gone plumb loco. WHAT? MOUNTAINS IN LOUISIANA?? You've got to be kidding! So it went at gas stops, food stops, and rest stops.

The trip almost ended soon after it started. A short distance from home the brake warning light on my motorcycle began flashing. This meant either end the trip now or fight morning rush hour and go to the dealership in Baton Rouge. After arriving at Hebert Cycles a quick check uncovered a low brake fluid level and a stuck sensor. A little brake fluid and we were on our way.

Our original plan was to stay off of the interstates and take secondary roads but, we had to make up lost time, so we took I-10 then US 190 in Port Allen. Fortunately, traffic was fairly light and we made good time all the way to Krotz Springs where we took LA 105 north -- following the twists and turns of the Achafalaya River. At Melville, we turned west on LA 10 then north on US 71 to Lecompte -- passing fields of sugar cane, cotton, and soy beans.

At Lecompte, we took LA 112 and LA 121 through a portion of the Kisatchie National Forest. Most of the time we were the only vehicle on the highway. Both highways had numerous curves and took us through an old abandoned army base and the pine forests of Kisatchie.

We turned off of LA 121 onto LA 28 to Leesville where we picked up US 171. After the solitude of the Kisatchie, the increased traffic along LA 28 and US 171 was frustrating. Fortunately the congestion didn't last long. Upon reaching Anacoco we turned west on LA 392 and headed to the Texas state line and the dam at Toledo Bend. The Sabine River's Toledo Bend once played a major role in the history of East Texas. Toledo Bend was located on the western edge of the neutral territory, and the border area was disputed by the United States and Spain during the early 1800's. It was a major route of trade and migration. In more recent years the damming of the Sabine has created a huge reservoir that has become a major resort area along the Texas and Louisiana border.

Refreshed after a break for picture taking and enjoying the view, we returned to the highway, specifically LA 191 north. This scenic highway follows the eastern side of the Toledo Bend Reservoir, occasionally providing glimpses of the water. We practically had this curvy road to ourselves, with only an occasional vehicle appearing.

We followed LA 191 to near Noble, where we stopped to revisit a campsite and land that my family owned years back. Quite a change had taken place over the years and being there brought back lots of memories. As I had done on previous visits, I took lots of pictures, creating a sort of history of changes in the area.

We continued on LA 191 to LA 174, then turned east to Converse, then north on US 171 to Mansfield and on to LA 175 until we reached I-49 which took us into Shreveport. After a few phone calls we located friends and met them at a campground on Black Bayou Reservoir. We rented a cabin for the night - and our friends treated us to a nice home-cooked meal.

Friday morning started with a bang -- ants were all over the bike -- in every nook and cranny. A trail of ants were climbing up the sidestand and spreading out in all directions. We "dusted" off as many as we could and over the next hundred miles or so we lost the rest of them.

We took I-20 east to the Arcadia exit and at a brief rest stop, we finally met someone who actually knew about the Louisiana mountains. From Arcadia we headed south on LA 9 then LA 147, LA 797, and LA 507. We easily found Mt. Zion Independent Presbyterian Church, the starting point of our quest to climb the lofty peak of Driskill Mountain. Our directions said to follow the main dirt road and not to stray, as this was private property. We were the only two people on the dirt road and we had encountered few vehicles on our ride to this "well-known major attraction."

We were all excited when we began our quest to conquer the mile long trail to the peak. The trail started out as a dirt road which had been blocked off by a gate. The climb was gradual. Signs indicating the way were scarce and we hoped we were still on the right track.

The directions I secured from my research on the internet warned about staying on the main road as there was a trail to a "false summit." At about the halfway point, we found another gate blocking the road and off to the right was a tree with a sign pointing out the direction of Driskill Mountain. Here the trail narrowed. We continued pushing on, the trail began to get steeper. Finally, there it was, Driskill Mountain, the highest point in Louisiana, all of 535 feet above sea level! We had made it!

A small rock cairn marked the summit, and a metal box containing a log book and various business cards of past visitors was attached to the sign pole indicating the elevation. The notebook was fairly new and there weren't many entries. The entries that were there were interesting. Most of them were from fellow Louisianans but there was one from a Californian.

The box also contained a note written by a couple who became engaged on this spot. My research had turned up a national club whose members climbed the highest points in states through out the United States. After taking a number of pictures and enjoying the scenic view from the peak, it was time to begin the descent.

With the main objective of our trip accomplished, we headed south exploring other roads in the area. We took a meandering route south toward Alexandria taking backroads through sections of the Kisatchie National Forest. These roads included LA 507, LA 508, LA 155, and LA 501 to Winnfield. At Winfield we took US 167 for a short stretch then veered east on LA 472 which looped back to US 167. Next we turned east on LA 123 to US 165 then looped back to US 167 on LA 8. Then it was on to US 167 until it exited on I-49. We remained on I-49 until we reached the LA 182 exit, rode LA 182 to LA 10 at which point we returned to our route of the previous day. Since it was now afternoon rush hour, we stayed on the west bank of the Mississippi on our return to Labadieville.

Tammy and I had a wonderful time and the trip strengthened our father/daughter relationship. The only difficulty we had was the heat -- temperatures ranged in the mid to high 90's both days. We resorted to wetting our outer shirts to keep cool between rest stops.