Pintail Wildlife Drive - Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge

From the intersection of I-10 and US 171 (Exit 33/ Moss Bluff Exit) in Lake Charles, go east on I-10 for 2.7 miles to Exit 36/ LA 397. Go south on LA 397 for 5.8 miles to LA 14. Turn left and go east 5.0 miles to LA 27E. Continue south on LA 27E for about 12.7 miles to the drive entrance on the left side of the road.

Pintail Wildlife Drive is a well-interpreted three-mile driving loop through a large section of the freshwater marsh at Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge. It possesses a boardwalk system for close-up nature study in the southwestern section of the marsh, providing excellent waterbird and dragonfly habitats. Scrubby bar ditches and roadside channels (dug for drainage) line most of the drive, holding songbirds year-round. 

This large, undeveloped marsh complex is enveloped by drier, mixed-grassland fields and tree lines–perfect raptor habitat that commonly includes the likes of Crested Caracara, Swainson’s, Red-tailed, Cooper’s, and Sharp-shinned Hawks, along with Great-horned, Barn and Eastern Screech-Owls. Many large pockets of open water habitat dot the cattail marsh. The area around the trailhead has a good stand of black willow trees, which can hold many songbird migrants, particularly various species of thrushes, warblers, and wrens, during the spring and fall months.

Common summer birds include Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Least Bittern, numerous wading bird species, Purple Gallinule, Common Gallinule, Marsh Wren, and Common Yellowthroat.

In winter, thousands of Greater White-fronted and Snow Geese–often with Ross’s Geese mixed in -- swirl around this complex on a daily basis. Wading bird presence remains strong during the cold months, with Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, White Ibis, and White-faced Ibis being the most common species. Duck numbers can be spectacular here. Spotting scopes to study the finer details of all these birds are highly recommended. Pintail Wildlife Drive has recorded 167 bird species.

Butterfly and dragonfly fanciers may want to include their field guides on this drive. Numerous species of both are present nearly year-round. Beginners should look for showier butterflies such as the Tiger Swallowtail and Viceroy. Abundant dragonflies include Roseate SKimberlymer, Four-spotted Pennant, and the amber-washed Halloween Pennant. The site is handicapped-accessible.

Viewing Platform/Observation Blind