Visitors can glimpse cypress swamp and bottomland hardwood forest as they make their way through the new James A. Schmidt Boardwalk and Trail at Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge.

The half-mile looping trail, dedicated last weekend, is located at the Pearl River Turnaround at Exit 11 off of I-59 in St. Tammany Parish.

Along the trail, visitors can also take in the picturesque scenery or try to reel in a big fish off the newly installed fishing pier, a news release says.

The trail and boardwalk honor James (Jim) A. Schmit, an active volunteer with the Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges Complex. The funding for the materials used to complete this project was made possible by a Louisiana Recreational Trails Program grant through the Federal Highway Administration that Schmit wrote and helped to facilitate. Schmit also mentored a volunteer force that was instrumental in the completion of the project, the release said.

The Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges is a non-profit organization formed in 1996 to support conservation and education projects at the Southeast Louisiana Refuges Complex.

For more information, call (985) 882-2025 or go to

Escape for the Fourth

Visit Baton Rouge is giving one local family a July Fourth weekend escape to ... Baton Rouge.

The “Star Spangled Sweepstakes” drawing is open to Baton Rouge-area residents. The weekend giveaway include two nights at the Hilton Capitol Center (July 3-4), a Friday night food tour from C’est Si Bon Tours, complimentary breakfast Saturday and Sunday morning, gift cards to local restaurants including Restaurant IPO, Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar, Stroube’s and Parrain’s; a “Go Pass” for free admission to most local attractions, passes to the July 4th Spectacular at the USS Kidd Veterans Memorial Museum and Liberty Lagoon passes.

Residents can enter the drawing by logging on to or Visit Baton Rouge’s Facebook page and completing the “Star Spangled Sweepstakes” form.

The contest ends June 14, and the winner will be announced June 17.

For more information and the complete list of rules, visit

Trips for seniors

Area seniors can book vacation trips to Branson, Nashville and Costa Rica taking place in the next several months.

The Branson, Missouri, trip is Aug. 2-8. The bus is full, but only one person is on the waiting list, trip director Leslie Tassin says. The Nashville, Tennessee, trip is set for Nov 29-Dec 5.

The first bus is full, but there are 14 vacancies on bus two.

The 14-day “Costa Rica Treasures” trip leaves May 2, 2016, from New Orleans. Cost is $2,905.

For more information on any of the trips, call (225) 769-5872.

New at the bureau

Brittany Racca is the new communications coordinator at the Iberia Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Racca’s core responsibilities include coordinating content, public relations efforts, marketing, social media and graphic design.

A native of Erath, Racca graduated in May 2014 from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English.

She worked as an intern at the bureau last spring and she transitioned to part-time after graduation.

Louisiana Travels is a column about travel destinations and events in Louisiana. Email items for Louisiana Travels to or