From Monroe head north on Highway 165 and turn left on Richland Pl, follow it across the bridge over Bayou Desiard, pause here to admire Cypress swamp, and look for American alligators, basking turtles and birds, then proceed along Richland, take a right for the gravel road to the experimental ponds or go straight for the Visitors' Center and beyond it the roads to the boat ramp and kayak dock, and to the observation tower and bird blind, and on to the old Bufferin Cemetery and ATV trails.

Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge sports an incredibly diverse range of bird life. In fact, 231 species have been recorded at this site, located within Monroe’s city limits.

A concrete path through tall prairie grass starts across from the parking lot at the Wildlife Refuge Educational Center. Fifteen sparrow species have been recorded here, including the elusive Henslow's, Rusty and LeConte's and Nelson's Sparrows. Other grassland birds using this site include Sedge Wren, Indigo and Painted Buntings, and Dickcissel. 

The main attraction, however, is the short nature trail loop through bottomland hardwoods and the elevated boardwalk along Black Bayou Lake's flooded banks and cypress groves. Forest birdlife is active with year-round residents such as Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Carolina Wren, Brown Thrasher, and Eastern Towhee. Winter and migration months bring in additions, including Blue-headed, Philadelphia, Warbling Vireos, and Winter Wren. Birders should always be looking for warblers, as a rotating cast of some 33 species has been recorded.

An elevated boardwalk extends out for several hundred feet into the lake, outfitted with scopes for public use. Twenty-four species of waterfowl have been observed here, mostly in winter. They include Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Redhead, Canvasback, Greater Scaup, and Common Goldeneye. Wading bird diversity is good as well, with 14 recorded species.

The refuge offers several paved and gravel parking areas, a visitor center, an educational center with programming, restrooms, water fountains, nature trails, and a boat launch. A portable toilet is located at the boat ramp parking lot and is accessible even when facilities are closed. Visitors use the refuge for hunting, fishing, boating/paddling, hiking, and nature photography. 

Gift Shop
Gravel Trails
Offers Programs & Activities
Parks & Nature
Paved Trails
Viewing Platform/Observation Blind
Visitors Center/Nature Center