J.C. “Sonny” Gilbert Wildlife Management Area

J.C. “Sonny” Gilbert WMA is located 6 miles west of Sicily Island. Major access routes to the WMA include LA Hwy 8 and 915. LDWF maintains a system of all-weather gravel roads and several ATV trails that provide access to area users. There are three self-clearing permit stations located at the WMA’s main entrances.

The unique topography of the J.C. “Sonny” Gilbert Wildlife Management Area supports a diversity of plant and animal life, including some rare and endangered species of birds. The site’s avian communities compare with nearby Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge and Sicily Island Hills WMA. 

Three nature trails provide the best access to this site for birding purposes. The Big Creek Hiking Trail, located on the north end of the WMA, winds through seven miles of mature mixed pine hardwoods. Hikers should know this trail is rugged and suited for the physically fit. 

The Rock Falls Trail is located on the south end of the WMA. It is a 1.50-mile trail through mature mixed pine-hardwoods. The waterfall along this trail, measuring nearly 17 feet, is reported to be one of the tallest in the state. 

St. Mary’s Falls Trail may be the easiest for first-time visitors. The trail, on the north end of the WMA, runs 1.75 miles through upland mixed pine hardwoods, traversing small waterfalls and scenic views. 

Typical year-round bird species in these woods include Wood Duck, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Red-shouldered Hawk, and various woodpecker species. Look also for Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian and Great-crested Flycatchers, along with Eastern Phoebe in winter. 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries maintains a system of all-weather gravel roads, and several ATV trails provide users with additional access. Please note that these roadways and trails are sandy and subject to washouts after heavy rains. Access with 4-wheel drive vehicles and ATVs is strongly recommended. 

Amenities are limited to trails, boat launches, and primitive camping. Birding, hunting, and fishing are the main recreational activities here.