Paddling along Bayou Teche

High water on Bayou Teche at Magnolia Park

Walking path at Magnolia Park

Tree growing along Bayou Teche at Magnolia Park

Bayou Teche at Magnolia Park  

What's the Story?

Central to the ecology, economy and spirit of Louisiana is the network of waterways—rivers, bayous, floodways, streams and canals—that connect all portions of the state. The 125-mile Bayou Teche is one waterway that has been historically and culturally important for centuries. Once an ancient channel of the Mississippi River, which flowed through the area 3,800 to 5,500 years ago, the modern bayou begins as a distributary outlet of Bayou Courtableau in Port Barre and links the interior of the state to the Gulf of Mexico. 

Numerous towns, villages and cities border Bayou Teche as it flows south. They are reminders of the waterway’s importance as an early transportation corridor. Proximity to the bayou provided jobs for businesses and residents in the days before a reliable network of roads existed. French settlers moved to the St. Martinville area as early as the 1750s, and Acadians arrived shortly after in 1765. The Acadians’ journey was immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem Evangeline: A Tale of Acadia, and the famed Evangeline Oak—where local legend says Evangeline awaited her lover Gabriel—can be found along Bayou Teche about 1.5 miles south of Magnolia Park. Because of these early Acadian settlers, St. Martinville is sometimes considered the birthplace of Cajun culture, traditions, music and language. 

As St. Martinville grew and prospered, it became somewhat of a resort town. Many New Orleanians would escape to the area during frequent outbreaks of yellow fever in the city. At one time, it was known as Petit Paris, or Little Paris. There were many fashionable hotels, and the Duchamp Opera House featured French operas and plays for entertainment. 

Today visitors can explore Bayou Teche via the Bayou Teche Paddle Trail Corridor, which is part of the National Park Service’s National Water Trails System and offers multiple access points for paddlers. Additionally, the neighboring Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site offers information about the bayou’s vast history and the diverse people who settled along its banks.

This site’s geology/geomorphology: Holocene meander-belt (point bar and overbank) deposits of the Teche course of the Red River

Site Access: This trail kiosk is only accessible when the Magnolia Park gate is open. The kiosk is located in the back of the park near Bayou Teche.

Site GPS Coordinates: 30.138769, -91.817977
Closest Address: Magnolia Drive, North Side Park, St. Martinville, LA 70582
Driving Directions: From Lafayette, head east on LA-94 E/Carmel Drive to LA-353 E/Lake Martin Road and turn right. Drive ~6.5 miles and turn right to continue on LA-353 E/Cypress Island Hwy. Drive ~1 mile and turn right to continue on LA-353 E/Cypress Island Hwy. Drive 5 miles and turn right onto N Main Street, then left onto Magnolia Drive and proceed to the site.

Trail Site Information

ADA Accessible
Restroom Facilities
Nearby Parking
No Entrance Fees
Family Friendly


Parks & Refuges