Natchitoches – Florien
Miles: ~ 44
By Corey Poole
Wind blowing through the tall pines in West Central Louisiana provides visitors to Hodges Garden State Park a quiet and serene atmosphere. Paths and streams wind through 948 acres. The land was donated to the state in 2007 by the Hodges Foundation. In 2015, the park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Known as the “Garden in the Forest,” the park is a piece of 107,000 clear-cut acres bought by A.J. Hodges Sr. between 1937-1940. He replanted 39,000 acres with pine seedlings. The gardens they later created opened to the public in 1956.
The 225-acre lake was an abandoned quarry. Hodges and his wife planned the gardens they created on the property around the natural rock formations. The multitude of steps, overlooks, pathways, waterfalls and levels make this a great place for anyone with a love of the outdoors to spend the day exploring.
Trails at Hodges Gardens State Park:
• Wild Azalea Hiking Trail – 5 mi.
• Longleaf Pine Stump Hiking Trail – 1 mi.
• Spring Cove Hiking Trail – .5 mi.
• Wagon Wheel Equestrian/Hiking Trail – 7.3 mi.
• East Fence Loop Equestrian/Hiking Trail – 6.2 mi.
The park includes formal and natural gardens, the lake, a 5.3-mile loop road for bikers and walkers, 13 rustic cabins and tent sites. A pavilion at the Modern Rose Garden offers visitors a shaded resting place to watch the sunset. Rent a flat bottom boat, canoe or kayak to out on the lake, or fish from the shore. An equestrian campground also provides overnight facilities for visitors traveling the park’s trails with their horses.
The park offers events throughout the year including:
· Outdoor movies
· Star Party
· Fall Trail Ride
· Easter Egg Hunt and duck races
· Easter Sunrise Service (a tradition since 1955)
· School field trips
· Fall Art in the Park
· Painting in the Park
Whatever the reason for your visit, Hodges Gardens is a truly majestic landscape to relax and admire. Through the hard work of the Hodges, the land’s natural beauty has been preserved for generations to come.
Hodges Gardens State Park is one of the many attractions that can be found in Louisiana North, also known as Sportsman Paradise. The cities/parishes that comprise Louisiana North offer exciting activities like great cultural attractions, superb festivals, tantalizing local restaurants, and one-of-a-kind shopping adventures. Natchitoches Parish is a part of Louisiana North.