The Tammany Trace Trail is Louisiana’s one and only rails-to-trails conversion and has been inducted into the Rails Trails Hall of Fame, as well as being named one of the ’50 Millennium Legacy Trails’ by the White House Millennium Council. Join us as we ride the Tammany Trace from Covington to Slidell, discovering unique places to eat and stay along the way and how to turn a day on the Tammany Trace into an immersive biking vacation, or bikecation as we like to call it 😉.
Tammany Trace Map and Mileage
Below is our Tammany Trace map. We have the bike route, trailhead, and current trail closure layer enabled by default. All of the whistle stop highlights that we discuss later are turned off by default. However, we encourage you to turn them on and click around. For navigation, you can either download our MapMyRide route or load the Google Map onto your phone. There are some ongoing improvement projects for 2021 that we put on the map, but you might want to check the organization’s page for current Tammany Trace closures and conditions (link). We want you to enjoy your ride on the Tammany Trace and get out and explore St Tammany Parish. If you don’t see the map below, be sure to refresh your browser 😊
Covington Bike Trail
If you asked central casting for an old-fashion railroad station, they would build the Covington Trailhead. The covered waiting platform sits idly by, waiting for a steam locomotive to pull into the station. The bandstand waits for heralders, and the clock tower counts down the time to an arrival that has long since passed. Since then, the tracks gave way to the Covington bike trail. The Covington Trailhead is the opening stanza to the Tammany Trace symphony.
The roadways don’t give Covington any justice. US-190 bypasses the city center, and I-12 doesn’t even run through town. In order to experience Covington, you need to leave the highways and explore the blocks surrounding the Covington Trailhead.
Covington is the whistle stop community you’d hope to find, filled with delicious local restaurants and quaint hotels. We regret we had but one meal to eat in Covington, but we don’t regret our choice to try the English Tea Room. They served traditional high tea with over 225 teas available, along with delicious breakfast and lunch items, and don’t worry, they will cut the crusts off😉 We are sure that you could ride the Trace a dozen times and not run out of places to eat in Covington.
Abita Springs Bike Trail
It’s only four miles from Covington to Abita Springs on the Tammany Trace (aka Abita Springs Bike Trail), but the railroad built a stop here for health tourism. From the town’s website–
At the turn of the century, many hotels and boarding houses were continually filled with guests. New Orleans families would take the train to Abita Springs to escape the city’s heat and diseases. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which was the carrier of Yellow Fever, was not common in Abita Springs. In a way, it was Yellow Fever that helped Abita Springs to prosper and become a major resort area…
The [Abita Springs Park 1884] pavilion sits near the entrance to Abita Springs Park. Designed for the 1884 Cotton Centennial Exposition and later disassembled and brought to Abita Springs, it has been restored and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Once used by the summer tourists who drank from the pavilion’s springs, it is now used for numerous community activities.
Today, the town upholds its reputation as a funky and proudly weird arts community with the Abita Brewpub, local farmer’s markets, and, of course, the enigmatic Mystery House. If you are feeling a bit hungry or thirsty from the ride, be sure to stop in at the Abita Brew Pub. They have legit burgers that have that backyard grilled flavor and excellent craft beer. The town also fully embraces its Abita Trace segment with numerous festivals and celebrations throughout the year.
Covington and Abita Springs’ proximity and the multitude of community events make the Abita bike trail the most visited portion of the Tammany Trace Trail. Some people call it congested, others vibrant. These descriptions are particularly accurate for the annual Louisiana Bicycle Festival, which happens every June. In any case, be sure to follow the trail rules and etiquette in this section, including the 15 mph speed limit for cyclists.
St Tammany Trace – Koop Drive / Mandeville
While this area doesn’t have as many sights and stops as other sections, it’s no less important for the Tammany Trace Riders. For starters, it’s where you’ll catch the Saturday afternoon Chafunkta Bike Crawl to either Old Rail Brewing Company in Mandeville OR Abita Brewing Company’s Tap Room on alternating weeks. You can also check out all the trail happenings posted at the green caboose located at Koop Dr Trailhead.
We’ll take this open section of trail to tell you about St Tammany and how St Tammany’s Trace got its name. Tamanend (aka Tammany) was a Delaware Indian Chief who made peace with William Penn. He assumed a mythic status as an icon for the peaceful politics of negotiation and is known as the Patron Saint of America. Kevin Davis helped broker a deal in December 1992 in which the St Tammany Parish used federal money to buy the land for $1.4 million. The first trail segment opened in September 1994 and a naming contest determined “Tammany Trace”. Over time, more segments opened, and the Tammany trail is still growing and improving today.
Perhaps the most important improvement that Trace riders need to know about is the trail closure under I-12 (at least through the summer of 2021). Since you don’t want to tangle with the cars at the hwy 59/I-12 interchange, your safe choices are to flip it at I-12 or start your through ride from Mandeville. A through rider can head north from Koops Drive and South from Dove Rd, using their car to shuttle between these two points to stay safe.
Mandeville Bike Trail
Mandeville is a charming lakefront community known for its towering oak trees, fine dining, and hospitality. We partook of their hospitality at the de la Bleau B&B, which had all the modern charm and convenience of a boutique hotel with the spectacular hosts (Clyde and Cindy) of a B&B.
You should consider detouring off the Trace either coming or going to see the Lake Pontchartrain waterfront. Besides the aforementioned ancient oaks, you’ll see water stretching to the horizon, the impressive 22-mile long Causeway Bridge, and maybe a brown pelican or two. It’s also the perfect opportunity to stop for a bite to eat along the way.
While you’re exploring the Mandeville bike trails, check out the Brook’s Bike Co-Op and Museum. They’re a full-service bike shop and more, offering tours, rentals (in almost every trail city), and even frame welding. Brooks’ Bike Co-Op does more than get used bikes back into the community. They get them into the hands of kids who need them.
Their Bike for Kids program over Christmas gets bicycles under trees for the youth of St Tammany Parish. (Do you remember what it was like getting your first bike?) Over the summer, they partner with the Covington Police Department to teach kids to ride safely and bike repair basics. At the end of the camp, kids can keep the bike they worked on if they need one.
Biking Fontainebleau State Park / Pelican Park
You enter Fontainebleau State Park once you cross over the Bayou Castine Bridge. This former sugar plantation is now Louisiana’s most visited state park featuring a beach, over-water cabins, and the ruins of an 1829 sugar mill.
Most riders, however, don’t pay to enter the park at the registration center. They keep going on the Trace and enjoy 2.5 miles of natural beauty as they pass on to Bayou Cane. This area also has one of the newest ways to enter Tammany Trace, a .6 mile spur trail to Pelican Park.
Lacombe Tammany Trace Trailhead
Lacombe is an old-time Creole swamp town, where the residents observe All Saints Day by decorating the oldest cemeteries in a ceremony known as Les Toussaints Les Lumieres du Morte. It’s also home to Zagat’s number 1 rated Italian restaurant in the Greater New Orleans Area (Sal and Judy’s), which claims to be “where Creole Italian has been perfected.” The Creole theme continues with Bayou Adventures, which offers guided swamp tours, including their renowned guided sunset paddle. They even have a general store with snacks, and a Kitchen with what we have heard is an excellent breakfast served daily and gourmet pizza and wings!
You’ll have to detour a short distance off Tammany trail to see Lacombe. One quick jaunt that’s absolutely worth it is to exit at Lake St and head up to Main. You can stop by Bayou Adventures if you need a little (or big) bite, or continue down Main past the ancient oaks to the Bayou Lacombe Boat Launch. It’s not a lot of riding for a very nice view, and you can return to the trail on 1st St and keep riding on the trail to reach the Lacombe Tammany Trace trailhead.
Tammany Trace Eastern Terminus – Slidell
At the beginning of this guide, we talked about The Covington Trailhead as the opening stanza to the Tammany Trace symphony. Well, if Slidell is the ending, it just fades to black. Kind of like if Lost was a bike trail.
There are at least four contenders for the “end of the trail.” We marked the Carollo Trailhead Park and Ride as the trailhead and showed the trail reaching its unceremonious end at US-190. Some day, the trail extension will be completed across the 190, and you will be able to ride to Brooks’ Bikes Shop and Coffee. For now, you can enjoy the miles and make room for some of that delicious North Shore food.
Final Thoughts on the Tammany Trace Bike Trail
The 31-miles of the Tammany Trace bike trail and interlocking communities make it a destination bike ride and a perfect addition to a New Orleans holiday. With all the wonderful places to stay and delicious places to eat, you might even end up spending a few nights on the North Shore and going on an eco-tour or two.
If you’re bringing your bike to Louisiana, you have to check out our City Park / French Quarter / Garden District bike ride that showcases New Orleans from your saddle. You could also be riding the beachfront in Ocean Springs or on the 45-mile Longleaf Trace Trail with about an hour of driving.
Whether you live close by and are looking for an afternoon ride or looking to head down south for a bike vacation, you’ll want to ride the Tammany Trace!
Disclosure: A big thank you to Louisiana Northshore St Tammany Parish for hosting us and their excellent suggestions! For more travel inspiration check out their Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts.
As always, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own, and we only recommend brands and destinations that we 100% stand behind.
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