Safety Tips For Your Time on the Bayou Teche National Water and Paddle Trail

Please have fun and also remember to respect the waterway while using it.

  • Some boat landings are in rural areas and are not lit at night.
  • Tell someone about your paddling plans before you leave.
  • Always use personal flotation devices.
  • Carry water and sunscreen: Louisiana can be hot & humid in summer months.
  • Check weather conditions 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 and leave untouched this private property.
  • Occasionally you will see motorboats: remember to stay right in the curves and turn your boat into the wake.
  • Park in designated areas, making sure not to block driveways or interfere with traffic.
  • Always be courteous to other river users. Follow the laws and rules of the area you are using.
  • Look after the natural environment; avoid damaging riverbanks and vegetation.
  • Protect native species and habitats.
  • Don’t litter! Keep Louisiana Beautiful! Leave No Trace! And please take a few minutes to pick up litter left by others.
  • Because cellular coverage may be limited, please take a photograph of these maps to take with you along the Paddle Trail and Byways.

Other Paddling & Safety Notes

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 at 337-394-2200. Also, in St. Mary Parish, 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.

Paddle Craft Dos and Don’ts

Safety Tips – ACA