Pearl River Wildlife Management Area - Honey Island Swamp

Take I-59 north from Slidell/Pearl River. Just north of the town of Pearl River, I-59 will cross the Old Pearl River. Immediately after crossing the river on this bridge, take exit 5B. After exiting the interstate the road quickly stops at a T intersection. At this T intersection, turn left on Old US Highway 11/East Riverside Loop (a sign for the Pearl River WMA is at this T intersection). Old US Highway 11 will quickly enter the wildlife management area. After entering the wildlife management area, the road goes for approximately 2.5 miles until it ends at Indian Bayou.

The Honey Island Swamp is considered one of the most pristine river swamp systems in the United States. More than half of its area is permanently protected. The swamp got its name from the historical abundance of honey bees once seen nearby. Located within the northern portion of the Pearl River WMA, it’s bordered on the south by marshes lining the northern end of Lake Borgne, and is sandwiched between the Pearl River and the West Pearl River. Honey Island Swamp offers some of the best and most accessible bottomland/swamp birding in southeastern Louisiana. This area boasts 214 recorded bird species, including nesting Swallow-tailed Kite, Barred Owl, Acadian Flycatcher, and Swainson’s Warbler.

Once inside the complex, there is little traffic, and you can stop anywhere on the roadside. Additional expected species include numerous wading bird species, Anhinga, Red-shouldered Hawk, Mississippi Kite, Pileated Woodpecker, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Great-crested Flycatcher, Indigo Bunting, Summer Tanager, and a variety of warblers.

Two little-trafficked gravel roads are worth exploring. Oil Well Road includes a small area of beautiful cypress-tupelo swamp holding many waterbird species. This is a good place to look for Swainson’s Warbler, especially during April and May. It also provides a fair chance of seeing Wild Turkey, and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons often nest along this road. Poboy Road to the north is good for spotting Swainson’s Warbler as well.

Other outdoor recreational activities include hunting, fishing, hiking, paddling, and nature photography. Amenities are limited to several parking areas and boat launches, a primitive camping site (Crawford’s Landing), and various trails – some designated for hunters, others for naturalists. Professional swamp tour venues are available both in nearby New Orleans and on the western edge of the swamp itself.