The upper Bayou Teche (Port Barre to St. Martinville) is suitable for families and inexperienced paddlers but experienced paddlers will enjoy its beauty. Past St. Martinville, more experienced paddlers are required to either portage around a 100 year old dam, or lock through. The lock is the oldest operating lock in the Mississippi Delta region at Keystone Lock and Dam, owned and operated by St. Martin Parish Government. To lock through, you must call St. Martin Parish Government 24-hours in advance (337-394-2200). Also, in St. Mary parishes, paddlers will need to navigate the island at the Franklin Canal and traverse two steep portages on either side at the Wax Lake Outlet (a.k.a. Calumet Cut). At this portage location are two water control structures owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Paddlers will need to call ahead to determine if the water control structures are open or a portage around the gatehouses will be necessary. Patterson, in St. Mary Parish, is identified and promulgated as the safest take-out point at the finish of the Bayou Teche Paddle Trail. Adventurous paddlers can continue on the Bayou Teche Paddle Trail to lock through at the Berwick Lock, owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers into the Atchafalaya River into Morgan City.
Safety on the Bayou Teche
- Take into consideration that some of the boat landings are located in rural areas and are not lit at night.
- Tell someone about your paddling plans before you leave.
- Stay on designated trails.
- Use personal flotation devices at all times.
- Carry an adequate water supply: Louisiana can be hot & humid in summer months.
- Don’t forget sunscreen!
- Pack snacks and medication in waterproof containers.
- Check weather conditions for the area you will visit and be aware of current water conditions and flood stages.
- You may encounter crawfish traps, crab traps, float lines, and jig lines in the water. Respect private property and leave them untouched.
- Occasionally you will see a motorboat along these trails: remember to turn your bow into the wake.
- Don’t litter: help Keep Louisiana Beautiful!
Just In Case!