Kisatchie National Forest - Wild Azalea National Recreation Trail

The Wild Azalea Trail is located in the Evangeline Unit of the Calcasieu Ranger District, west southwest of Alexandria, Louisiana. End points are located at the Valentine Lake Recreation Area and at the town of Woodworth’s Town Hall parking area.

The Wild Azalea Trail traverses flat and rolling terrain, winding through pine hills, hardwood bottoms, beautiful native plant communities, and numerous pristine areas. 

Within the mixed pine-hardwood sections and hardwood creek bottoms through which the trail crosses, typical birds include Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-headed, Red-bellied, Downy, Hairy, and Pileated Woodpeckers, along with Northern Flicker, and a variety of flycatchers. 

Longleaf pine areas with active Red-cockaded Woodpecker colonies are well-marked with white or red rings around the pines that the birds are using. Shy and elusive, Bachman's Sparrows often use dense shrub thickets in the same longleaf pine habitat as the woodpeckers. The best time to view both birds is in the March-April courtship and nesting periods. That’s when the males of both species are most vocal. Reviewing their vocalizations before your visit is a good idea. Another shy/elusive bird that overwinters in the grassy longleaf pine forest floor is Henslow's Sparrow. If you visit in winter, take your time when traversing grassy areas, watching carefully for these small birds to pop up. 

Trailheads for this 31-mile trail are located in Kisatchie’s Valentine Lake Recreation Area (12 miles west of Alexandria) and near Woodworth’s Town Hall parking area (15 miles southwest of Alexandria). Informational kiosks at the trailheads contain all the pertinent information that trail users need. 

The trail is used for hiking and mountain biking and is accessible year-round. Camping is permitted adjacent to the trail. Camping, parking, and restrooms are also available at Valentine Lake. Dogs are allowed on the trail. The entire trail route is marked with mile markers and yellow diamond-shaped badges.