15 Feb Mary Ann Brown Preserve: Nature Conservancy
There’s nothing I love more than delving into nature while traveling. One of the great parts about Louisiana is the beautiful terrain and biodiversity. Much of Louisiana’s land is comprised of coastal marshes and swamp from the Mississippi River Delta, but the highlands have mixture pine forests and wet savannahs. These rich habitats are home to a diverse range of flora and fauna.
Located between St. Francisville and Jackson, near the Oakley Plantation where John James Audubon painted some of his famous bird paintings, sits the Nature Conservancy’s Mary Ann Brown Preserve. The preserve, about 110 acres, protects a pine-hardwood forest with a mixture of native hardwoods with loblolly and shortleaf pines. The Nature Conservancy chose this place due to its mature hardwood forest, primarily populated by centuries-old beech and southern magnolia, and the habitat it provides.
Along the eastern boundary of the Tunica Hills, another one of my favorite Louisiana sites for hiking and nature exploration, this gem is virtually unheard of. While Tunica can bring in a steady stream of visitors, the Mary Ann Brown Preserve sits quietly unused. We had the luck of being invited by Luke Orihuela to visit the preserve with him while he checked the duck nests, a stewardship activity that he donates his time to. Other stewardship activities include trail construction, restoration of old fields back to diverse native forest, and control of non-native weeds.
Hiking trails run throughout the forest, meandering past steep slopes that lead down to a permanent stream. The blend of wind deposited soil and the microclimate found in the deep ravines creates a perfect environment for a variety of unusual plant and animal life, including many woody plants, bird species and chipmunk.
The preserve is located 30 miles North of Baton Rouge off of Highway 61. Turn east on Highway 965 and travel 5.5 miles. The preserve will be on the left and a brick wall/iron gate identifies the entrance to the preserve. If you reach the entrance road to The Bluffs, you have gone about a quarter of a mile too far. Day use visitors should park in the small parking area to the right of the entrance gate. The physical address is 13515 Highway 965.
Questions or thoughts about the preserve or hiking in Louisiana? Write in your query or idea in the comments below!