Backbone Trail

MODERATE 59 reviews
#1 of 14 trails in

Backbone Trail is a 9.9 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Provencal, Louisiana that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
9.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
633 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

horseback riding

forest

wildlife

blowdown

muddy

rocky

backpacking
1 month ago

Beautiful trail. Great for beginners!

backpacking
1 month ago

Beautiful trail! Easy to follow, with moderately challenging landscapes. Perfect for a one night stay back packing trail.

hiking
1 month ago

Pretty fun trail, I don't recommend hiking it in the summer.. alot of trashed campsites and possible hobos on the way so be aware.

2 months ago

Good trail. Did it with two kids and a friend. Not a lot of water right now so bring plenty.

backpacking
2 months ago

Hiked the Backbone trail again last week with my daughter. this was her first overnight backpacking trip. We only spent one night on trail but it was great fun. Didn't see much wildlife and temps were in the high 80's during the day but dropped quickly after the sun went down. Other than that it was the same os my first review below.

backpacking
3 months ago

Pretty solid trail for what it is. The water is very limited for half of the loop so bring plenty of water. The trail tends to be muddy and overgrown so I'd recommend pants and change of socks.

backpacking
3 months ago

Was a beautiful weekend for being out on the trail. I parked at Caroline Dormon Trail head and made the 2.5 mile road hike to the Backbone trail head. It wasn't too bad of a walk. I then hiked up to one of the vista campsites about 1/2 way through the trail. The better of the two campsites had a large dead tree near by and appeared to be infested with Wasp's so I retreated back to the smaller campsite with the not so great view. there was no water on the trail up to this point so be sure you bring plenty with you. I didn't find good water source until the second day on my hike out. The trail is well worn but not marked very well as compared to the Wild Azalea and Kincaid Lake trails. I had no problem staying on the trail. Many parts of the trail are very narrow and a little overgrown from the knee down so make sure to keep an eye for tics in the warmer months. Plenty of down trees crossing the trails as well. Overall this is one of the better trail around. If you get the chance you will enjoy it .

hiking
4 months ago

I'm so happy to have this near our home. I think next time I will go in the 4.5 miles to the creek and eat lunch, play in the water and walk back out. The 3 miles on the road at high noon in August kinda sucked, I would do it first in the morning or shuttle, or trek in and out. Good climbs, lots of mud but it's been raining for a month off and on this summer so I'm not surprised at all. wonderfully and clearly marked the whole time. I just loved this trail.

backpacking
6 months ago

Hiked this over the Memorial Day weekend. We (my 3 kids less than 10 years old and I) parked at the Caroline Dorman TH and started down the Caroline Dorman trail for about 2 miles until we reached FS 360. We took FS 360 all the way up to the 830 road and camped overnight about 1/5th mile from it (approx. 31.489664, -93.036028). That was our first day, hiking about 4 miles. That night a big thunderstorm rolled through but being on high ground we hand no problems with water. From there we walked the 830 Rd to the Backbone TH and walked the ~7 miles back to the Caroline Dorman TH where we parked. A couple recommendations and observations:
- The Northern most park of the Backbone Trail can be quite muddy. Your on top of a ridge thus its not knee high muddy, but expect to get your shoes real muddy if it has rained recently.
- We stashed some water and food at the Backbone TH and had no issues with animals getting to the food. There are lots of streams you could filter water but its so dirty, I'm not sure its worth it....
- We came off the ridge (walking in the direction from the Backbone TH to the Caroline Dorman TH) and came to the major creek crossing (Bayou Cypre I think) and found it full of water. It looked deep and after wasting 20 minutes looking for an easier crossing I finally decided to take my shoes and underwear off and wade in. It was only just above the knees ('I'm 6'1"). THUS dont waist your time looking for an alternate crossing. Take your shoes off and plunge in, its not as deep as it looks.
- It was a nice circle we did starting at the Caroline Dorman trail and then doing a big loop. I'd recommend it as you'll find you've walked the entire trail fairly quickly. ITs about 12 miles round trip.
- There are lots of really nice locations to pitch a tent on the Northern section of the trail on the ridge. I wouldnt pass that up next time.
- Dont even think about staying around in the low sections. The mosquitoes will carry you off. We found that on the tops of the ridges there were none. Our camping spot had none being on high ground.
- Ticks were a big issue. WE must have pulled off 5 - 7 (none that latched on). Plan accordingly and check yourself often.
- Wildlife we saw: deer, snake, lots of hog rooting , squirrels, few birds, and some very annoying horse flies.
- We only passed one day hiker the second day, thus it was very quiet.
Overall it was nice little hike. I can now say LA actually has rocks (we live in the NOLA area) and some of them a beautiful purple. Doesnt compare to hikes out west, but hey it has its on beauty.

hiking
7 months ago

I hiked this trail today as a day hike. I took the advice of many others and parked at the C.D. trailhead and walked up Longleaf Road (just under 3 miles) to the northern trailhead of Backbone. Along the way I stopped at the site of the Red Dirt Lookout tower, which was no longer there, because, as I just saw on firetower.org, it was removed in 1983. The hike was going smoothly until I got to the campsite with the overlook at the 7-mile point (4 miles in from the north trailhead). While the trail was well-worn, well-marked, and well-correlated to the GPS map up to that point, at the campsite it diverged into several tenuous footpaths. I followed each of these until they faded out, returning back to the campsite each time. Finally, I just descended the hill and walked towards were the map tracing showed the trail should be. I tried to catch that little straight south segment on the easternmost tip of the loop. I walked through the woods in a zig zag pattern crossing where the trail was shown on GPS 6 times, overlapping by at least 100 yards each time. I saw no sight of it. When I got to Bayou Cypre, I walked up and down the banks a bit each way looking for where the trail crossed the creek. Still nothing. After crossing the creek, and looking again for the trail from that bank, I just bushwhacked 2 miles southwest towards what was marked as a little forest road connecting back to Longleaf Vista Road. That was non stop thick brush and thorns and was generally not fun. The "forest road" turned out to be the Turpentine trail. I hiked it back to Longleaf Vista Road and walked back up the road to the C.D./Backbone south trailhead where I parked. My total distance 11.4 miles, including searching.

Looking through some other users' GPX tracks of the hike, you can see that they did not follow the southern half of the trail as marked. Clearly the trail does exist and I messed up somehow, but losing the trail at the same place the trail diverged from the map made it much worse.

* I would recommend starting at the southern trailhead (you could still park at the north trailhead and walk down the road to begin with if you did not want to end with a road segment). The northern half of the trail is a sand path that is well-marked (yellow arrow blazes) and matched the map here on AllTrails and other sources. I actually don't know what the southern half of the trail looks like.

* Pros: extremely quiet (not even car sounds or overhead planes); clean (I didn't see any litter); unique rocky terrain with a surprising amount of elevation change for Louisiana; probably a good trail run; 4G coverage throughout the hike.
* Cons: map does not match the southern half of the trail; nothing in bloom when I went in April.

I will probably come back to this and other trails in the Kisatchie National Forest, but I will do a much more thorough map recon first.

hiking
8 months ago

nice hike, wild azaleas were blooming and some dogwwods.hiked it from the south entrance and walked the road back,gps indicated 11 miles total with 8.25 of that on the trail and the difference was walking the road back to the trailhead. Southern part was nicer, walking the road was not much fun.

camping
8 months ago

Went for a four day hike and get away. We parked at the Caroline Dorman parking lot and decided to hoof the road section first. It rained for most of the second morning as we hiked to the river in order to find a good spot to spend two days. Our things were soaked, but there is enough fat pine to start a fire in wet conditions. We made sure we were pretty far from the trail as not to disturb anyone with our wilderness shenanigans. So we roughly hiked half in a few hours, camped a few days, then hiked the rest on our last day. This is when things got a little crazy. On our hike out, you are ascending hills to the tops. At this time, the heavens seemed to open up and Thor's wrath was set upon us. I even had the urge to expel "IS THIS ALL YOU GOT!" with lightning strikes in the not so distant surrounding. Overall, I very much enjoyed the hike. A great trail to get away, spend a few days camping near the river, and getting back in touch with the wilderness.

9 months ago

If you took away the walk on the highway after it would warrant a higher rating. The trail was nice and the lookout point was pretty cool .

hiking
10 months ago

Just be aware at 1 mile in from trail head there are downed trees obscuring the trail. We hiked from trail ended to head and got quite turned around at that point because the AllTrails map doesn't match the exact route. Trail blazes were frequent and apparent except at the hollow where the fallen trees obscured the trail.

backpacking
10 months ago

Best hike I've done in Louisiana, which is a significant caveat. Parked at Caroline Dorman, hiked to the northern trailhead. Camped near the intersection with the high ridge trail. It rained in the morning, and, as one might expect with sandstone hills, the trail became really slick and the creek fords were knee high. The trail is more challenging than most in Louisiana but still a piece of cake. Would definitely return.

backpacking
11 months ago

Camped at the end of high ridge trail. Nicely secluded.

backpacking
11 months ago

The trails were very well kept up and well marked. We spent a couple days on the trail, and for the most part it was pretty easy hiking. There were a couple spots that could be labeled as difficult, but really only if you're not packing light

hiking
Monday, November 28, 2016

backpacking
Monday, October 10, 2016

great trail, beautiful views on the south end.

backpacking
Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Enjoyed this trail very much. As other reviewers suggest, park at the Caroline Dornan trailhead and walk the 2.5-3 mile road to the north end of the Backbone trailhead. The northern end has several burned trees from a fire last year (I believe) Make sure to pack at least 2 liters of water as the water sources are located near the middle to second half of the trail. Campsites are located throughout the length of the trail. Some better than others. We camped on a ridge at the first creek crossing. The southern end of the trail is much more scenic. Did a side hike on some of the Turpentine Trail. Next time I will check that whole trail out. It was pretty and worth the detour. All in all we did over 14 miles. I thought the trail was well marked. There was only one part where a very large tree was down on the trail, but the trail continued directly behind it. We just had to go around it. Take notice of the switchback. We happened to see a tent with hikers and headed that way to ask about water sources and they directed us to the trail that continued down the hill. We may have continued straight, but would probably have turned back after not seeing a trail marker. I suggest to properly prepare and if you are someone who is regularly active this trail will give you a workout, but not be unmanageable . Enjoy! Happy Hiking!

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