For those seeking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the work week, there is an area only a half-hour away from Fort Polk that offers water activities, hiking, bird watching and plenty of relaxation.
Located west of Anacoco is South Toledo Bend State Park, one of the pieces of Louisiana’s extensive state park system. The park lies on the southeast bank of Toledo Bend, a reservoir on the Sabine River between Louisiana and Texas. At 185,000 acres, the reservoir is the largest man-made body of water in the South.
Land for the park was acquired in 1979 and today, about 400 acres constitute the park proper. Most of the park fronts the reservoir, offering breath-taking views from both land and water.
While the reservoir is nationally recognized as a destination for bass fishing tournaments, visitors to the park can also enjoy other outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, cycling, birding, camping and enjoying the many forms of wildlife in the area.
The area is also a common nesting ground for the bald eagle, which feeds from the plentiful supply of freshwater fish – including largemouth bass, catfish, bream and white perch – found in the reservoir. The avid fisherman or boating enthusiast can set out onto the reservoir at the two-lane boat ramp area.
Guests can to learn about local animal and plant life at the park’s Visitor Center, with exhibits designed to increase awareness of these species and their role in the environment. An open-air breezeway leads out to the observation deck and a majestic view of the reservoir lake and nearby islands.
A 3,000-foot surfaced nature trail provides an opportunity for all visitors to explore the area around the Visitor Center and the RV camping areas. Park rangers are available throughout the year to provide information on the park’s flora and fauna.
Also nestled among the trees near the Visitor Center are several picnic tables, so visitors can enjoy a lunch or snack while enjoying their day at South Toledo Bend State Park.
From Fort Polk, take U.S. Hwy 171 north to Anacoco and turn left (west) onto La. Hwy 111/392. Turn north on La. Hwy 191, then west onto Bass Haven Road. The park entrance is about ½ mile on the left. The site is open daily at 6 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
For more information on South Toledo Bend State Park call (337) 286-9075 or visit www.toledo-bend.com.