Down Home LA: Can you climb Louisiana’s tallest mountain?

Spoiler Alert: You probably can.
It’s true: Louisiana has a mountain, and you can climb it!
Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 6:25 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - If you read the headline above, it’s ok to think there’s a typo in my sentence. It’s actually true: Louisiana has a mountain, and you can climb it!

Checking in at an outstanding 535 ft above sea level, Driskill Mountain is Louisiana’s tallest point, even though, it should be classified as more of a large hill. Really, at 535 ft, it’s technically considered Louisiana’s tallest natural point, because…well...some of the towering skyscrapers in the New Orleans Central Business District are taller, but don’t let that stop you. You can’t hike a skyscraper, now can you?

I remember as a kid in eighth grade Louisiana History learning about Louisiana’s “mountain.” Since that time, I was fascinated and added it to my “Bayou State Bucket List.” This was my first trip, and I wasn’t disappointed.

You’ll find the base of Driskill Mountain off Highway 507 outside the small town of Arcadia, Louisiana. As you’re driving along the highway, be on the lookout for the Mount Zion Presbyterian Church. The trailhead is located just passed their small building and begins behind the church cemetery. At the start of the trail, you’ll notice a large closed gate. Don’t worry, this isn’t to keep hikers out, just vehicles. There’s a person-sized hole to the left of the gate, so walkers can pass right through.

The trail itself is on private property, but hikers are welcomed and encouraged. All along the trail, there are panels acknowledging the landowners for keeping the trail open and maintained for visitors. All that they ask of you on your visit is to be respectful of their property and not to litter along the trail. As on any hike, leave only your footprints.

The walking trail on Driskill Mountain in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.
The walking trail on Driskill Mountain in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.(KALB)

A couple of hundred feet into the trail, as Robert Frost said, “two paths diverge in a yellow wood.” You can take an easier stroll to the top, or a slightly more experienced hike over the smaller “False Mountain” to the summit of Driskill. The experienced path is slightly overgrown, but not challenging…not even for an inexperienced hiker like myself. As for the easy path? It’s like walking the Alexandria Mall on a slight incline, except without the pretzel shop.

On a normal day, this would be an easy and beautiful hike, surrounded by beautiful wildlife and vegetation. Bring water and bug spray and you’ll have no problems. During our climb to the summit, we experienced a true Louisiana scorcher – 95 degrees with about 80% humidity. I hope your weather is better than ours, but let’s be honest with ourselves, cooler weather doesn’t come back around until October at the earliest.

A pile of rocks at the "peak" of Driskill Mountain in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.
A pile of rocks at the "peak" of Driskill Mountain in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.(KALB)

The top of the mountain is home to a rock pile and an elevation marker. You can sign the guestbook and let others know you’ve made it to Louisiana’s peak! In the distance, you’ll find a scenic overlook and a quiet place to sit.

This is a fun quick hike, about 1.5 hours from Alexandria. To make a full day of it, I would recommend stopping by the beautiful nearby Lincoln Parish Park and having a safe picnic.

I hope you have as great a time as we did, exploring Down Home Louisiana!

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