Down Home LA: You need to drive the sunflower trail

When the sunflowers are in bloom, Louisiana's most beautiful drive is Highway 3049, from Shreveport to Gilliam.
Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 7:28 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) -Like most people going through lockdown, it’s understandable to want to get out more. I’m a traveler by nature, so being told to stay in one place for months at a time feels against my core.

My wife and I started dating while studying together at Oxford University in The UK, and we’ve been bit by the travel bug ever since. Every two weeks, we save up a bit of each paycheck to travel the world.

Even though there are much bigger problems facing the globe, I was still a bit upset when we had to cancel our big summer trip. After all, we’d saved up and planned a big family getaway, that like so many things this year just wouldn’t be happening.

That’s when I realized I probably wasn’t the only one that felt this way.

If you’re refreshing airfare websites just to see the prices at an all-time low, knowing full and well you won’t be getting on a plane anytime soon, or if you feel trapped in a home that’s walls feel a little tighter each day, rest assured: even though I love large trips, I’ve taken my fair share of weekend drives around Louisiana to know there are still great destinations out there. In fact, there are spots you can visit safely, staying outdoors and socially distanced.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll invite you along with me to show you a few of my favorite outdoor destinations in “Down Home Louisiana.”

For our first destination, we’re heading to “Louisiana’s Other Side.” That’s what Louisiana’s Yankees proudly call their region around the northwest corner of the bayou state. Even though you won’t find many bayous near Shreveport, you can find some outstanding plants. But as the commercials like to say, they’re here for a “limited time only.”

In fact, I would go this weekend. Don’t wait.

You’re looking for the “Sunflower Trail.” A beautiful drive down Highway 3049 from Shreveport to Gilliam, Louisiana. All year long this is a gorgeous, slow drive through farmland lined with cash crops and wildflowers, but for a few short weeks in late June and early July, visitors can enjoy the towering plants in full bloom that give the trail its name. Sunflowers, reaching ten feet in the air, pop up in huge clusters at random farms all along the drive.

Why are they here? Honestly, each farmer will tell you the same thing: for you and your camera.

Drive the trail, stop and take pictures. It’s beautiful, enjoyable and as proud of our video as I am, it doesn’t give these gorgeous plants justice. It really is awesome to see in person.

Talking with some of the farmers, I learned that they’ve been planting sunflowers along Highway 3049 for about 30 years. Apparently, before the trail was developed, the first farmers planted the crop to attract birds for hunting season. Now, they keep it up year after year to put on a beautiful display. Unless someone wants to collect sunflower seeds, or oil, which doesn’t seem likely, they won’t be making much off these crops – they’re not cash standards like corn or soybeans. So, don’t let their labor go to waste – drive the trail and see their hard work in action.

Starting from Shreveport, you’ll see some road construction signs at the start of 3049. Don’t worry, it won’t impact your journey. Follow the trail until you see signs on the right side of the road by “The Dixie Gin,” a farm-house inspired event venue. Turn there to continue the trail and bypass the construction. Follow it all the way to Downtown Gilliam, stopping where you like.

For whatever reason, each time we thought we had seen the last of the flowers, more followed, seemingly more beautiful than the last.

I hope you have as fantastic of a time as we did.

For more information on The Sunflower Trail, check out their Facebook Page here -

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