From the intersection of I 10 and US 167/ Exit 103 in Lafayette, go south on US 167/ NW Evangeline Thruway for 0.75 miles to Willow Street. Turn left (east) onto Willow Street and go 1.5 miles east to Teurlings Drive. Turn right (south) and go 0.5 mile to Carmel Drive/ LA 94. Go left (east) and drive 1.5 miles to Lake Martin Road/LA 353. Go right (south) 5.0 miles to the Lake Martin entrance on the left.

More than 250 bird species have been spotted at the massive Cypress Island Nature Preserve at Lake Martin, including rarities and vagrants. That’s largely because of its cypress swamp habitats, which support globally significant numbers of colonial nesting waterbirds and native plants. The swamp, known as Lake Martin, is the site of one of Louisiana’s largest wading bird rookeries.

Managed by the Louisiana Nature Conservancy, the 9,500-acre preserve is ideal for hard-core birders and other naturalists.  Local fishermen and nature photographers use it as well.

Birding here can be done on foot or by boat.  Using the landing at the lake's eastern edge, boating birders can view both swamp and open-water species. The site is known for its large mixed-wading bird rookery (active late January through early June), but boaters are prohibited from accessing the rookery during these months. Still, many wading bird species can be easily observed year-round in other parts of the lake. The most commonly encountered species include a variety of herons and egrets.

The middle of the lake is open water – home to many species of waterfowl during fall, winter, and spring. Twenty-six species of waterfowl have been recorded here, along with 13 shorebird species and 11 species of gulls and terns. Ospreys are here most of the year, while Swallow-tailed Kites are frequently observed in spring and early summer.

The foot trail around the lake is the best bet for songbird spotting. Songbird activity is high on a year-round basis, but especially so during migration and nesting seasons.

Lake Martin is also home to a substantial nesting population of alligators. The entire perimeter of the lake consists of cypress-tupelo swamp habitat, filled with birds, alligators, and many species of water snakes, frogs, dragonflies, and other creatures.

A small nature center is located near the western end of the lake. A boat launch and porta-potty can be found on the lake's eastern edge. The site is not handicapped accessible.

Gravel Trails
Parks & Nature