In recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the U.S. Forest Service will waive all fees at recreational sites in Kisatchie National Forest in Pineville, with the exception of camping on Caney Lakes in the Caney Ranger District and in the Calcasieu Ranger District through Monday, Jan. 21. All other recreational activities requiring a fee will be waived.

For more information about Kisatchie National Forest or this fee-free weekend, contact the Forest Supervisor’s office in Pineville at (318) 473-7160.

Also at Kisatchie, every winter the Sandstone Trail closes for routine maintenance. This year the trail will be closed until Saturday, April 27. The Sandstone Trail is one of the most popular destinations in the forest for outdoor enthusiasts. Kisatchie District Ranger Mike Dawson explained, “The 36-mile-long Sandstone Trial continues to be very popular, whether using an ATV, horse or simply hiking. The varied terrain, with unexpected hills, hollows and vistas, is a rare treat in central Louisiana.”

Closing the trail allows KNF crews the opportunity to not only work on general maintenance of the trail but also make improvements such as bridge approachments and hardening creek crossings.

Hike the park

Visitors to Fairview-Riverside State Park in Madisonville can join the interpretive ranger for guided hikes at 8 a.m. Wednesdays during January.

In addition to exercise, walkers will learn a little local history and information about park flora and fauna. The fast-paced walk is approximately 1 mile round-trip. Meet the interpretive ranger under the oaks near Otis House Museum in the day-use area to explore the entire campground. Dress according to the weather; the program will be canceled if there is rain.

The Otis House Museum is located inside Fairview-Riverside State Park one mile east of Madisonville on La. 22 in St. Tammany Parish. Otis House tours are $4 per person, age 12 and younger or seniors ages 62 and older are admitted free of charge with register receipt. The hike is free with park admission of $1 per person aged 4-61; seniors ages 62 and older and children under 3 admitted to park free of charge. The site includes camping, a day-use picnic area on the banks of the Tchefuncte River, and Otis House Museum. For more information call (985) 792-4652 or (888) 677-3247.

Chef picked for cruise

Area chef Jeremy Langlois will be guest chef on Holland America Cruise Line’s June 22 cruise from Vancouver, Canada. Langlois is executive chef at Latil’s Landing and Houmas House Plantation & Gardens in Darrow.

The ship Zuiderdam will sail to Inside Passage, Tracy Arm, Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan before returning to Vancouver on June 29. While on board, Langlois will hold a private demonstration and tasting in the ship’s culinary arts center and a private premium wine tasting with the ship’s cellar master. For more information on the cruise, call (843) 651-6936 or email

Vendors sought

Kent Plantation House in Alexandria is seeking vendors for its Spring Herb Day Arts and Crafts Festival 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, April 6, on the grounds of the Kent House.

This event features flowers and herbs grown specifically for Central Louisiana with plant experts on hand to assist in picking out the proper plants for a garden space. Also included is an arts and crafts festival showcasing area craftsmen as well as baked goods, roses from the Central Louisiana Rose Society, a yard sale and much more. Vendors may contact the Kent House office for more information at (318) 487-5998.

New in Natchez

Magnolia Bluffs Casino in Natchez, Miss., opened Jan. 17.

Magnolia is the only land-based casino in Natchez, and is located directly below the Grand Hotel, 7 Roth Hill Road.

The casino’s architecture is based on the original saw mill that was located on the property and operated through the 20th century. The interior is reminiscent of old Vegas and Palm Springs. The casino also features an Italian steakhouse, a buffet restaurant and a deck overlooking the Mississippi River.


The Office of State Parks, Kisatchie National Forest and Kent Plantation House provided items for this column. Louisiana Travels is a biweekly column about travel destinations and events in Louisiana. Email items for Louisiana Travels to or or fax to (225) 388-0351.