Slidell to Covington, Louisiana
27.5 miles long Rails-to-Trails
(100% asphalt trail)
Rating: 9 (out of 10)
80 driveway/road crossings (1-Way) - On average, that is 2.9 crossings per mile which is low.
117 people encountered (Both Ways) - On average, that is 2.1 people you'll see per mile which is low.
Pros: The approximate 78 driveway/road crossings along the 27.5 miles of trail are mostly concentrated in four cities - Lacombe, Mandeville, Abita Springs, and Covington. Elsewhere, you can expect there to be a crossing about every 2 miles on average which allows you to spend more time enjoying the scenery instead of watching for traffic at crossings. Most of the crossings were traffic free. Some crossings had stop light sensors to warn you of vehicle traffic near the crossing. There are bathrooms along the trail. The trail grade is about as flat as you'll ever find meaning no hills whatsoever. Parking can be found all along the trail. There are shaded shelters every few miles with picnic tables or benches underneath them. The trail is very well maintained. No grass growing in the asphalt. There are no shrubs or weeds growing out over the trail causing the need to weave or duck. The trail surface is smooth asphalt. No concrete curbs to jump. No litter on the trail. At Mandeville you can ride a cross trail to the scenic shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain. Bike rentals were available in Mandeville and Covington. There were a couple of stations along the trail with manned security. Also, three security "rangers" on motorized scooters keep a watchful eye on trail activity and are there to help anyone in need. No pets are allowed on the trail. The trail is mostly shrouded by a dense tree canopy which keeps out the sun during the summer and it blocks the cold winds of the winter. Some trailheads have playgrounds for kids.
Cons: The trail crossing at Hwy 59 was the worst because traffic did not want to stop for someone standing in the cross walk. The trail is for day use only meaning no riding after dark which prohibits night time exercise or commuting. The trail at Bayou Lacombe bridge is physically closed at sunset. Were you to get delayed and find the bridge closed, you would have to do a 2-3 mile detour along busy Hwy 190 and cross two narrow bridges with no shoulder. You will likely find a few root bumps on the trail as they suddenly jar your body because you didn't see them. The asphalt surface is experiencing some splitting in a few places which may be a bit unsafe for narrow tire bicycles. The trail website reports about 290,000 people use the trail each year. That means about 700+ people are using it each day with weekends being the most busy. Despite rules, you will likely have to pass people and cyclists who are side by side blocking the ability to pass safely. A horn will get their attention. The speed limit on the trail is 20 mph which may be slow for elite cyclists who ride in fast pace lines. There is a parallel horse trail along Tammany Trace and horse riders have to use the bicycle trail at bridge crossings.
Viewpoint: In a nutshell, yes, I will travel to ride this trail again. Tammany Trace isn't called Louisiana's "Top Rated" rails-to-trails by accident. It is indeed a beautiful and safe trail for bicycling. It is the perfect length for an out and back day ride for a seasoned cyclist. There are several trail extensions to explore that lead to parks. Many of the 31 bridge crossings offer stunning views of bayous and streams. Ride this trail! The only reason I don't rate it 10 out of 10 is because of the few trail cons listed above.
The downloadable GPS track of the Tammany Trace Rails to Trails, along with more photos, can be found here:
Click on any thumbnail below to bring up a larger view photo gallery with commentary.