There’s a good chance that affiliate links are scattered throughout this post. If you click on one I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you and I’ll definitely be using it to buy bike gear.
The Tammany Trace is a gold star when it comes to biking in Louisiana. It’s the first and longest rail trail to be completed in the state and at over 30 miles one-way, it definitely provides hours (or days) of two-wheeled fun.
The paved bike trail stretches between the two historic towns of Covington to the west and Slidell to the east. It also passes through the quaint communities of Abita Springs, Mandeville, and Lacombe. In between towns, cyclists can enjoy quiet stretches through pretty forests of loblolly pines, live oaks, and magnolia trees as well as swamp and wetlands ecosystems.
I explored the “Trace” over two days from both the Covington and the Slidell trailheads and it was one of the highlights of my New Orleans trip! Read on to learn more about cycling the Tammany Trace.
The railroad bed that the Tammany Trace now follows was once used by the Illinois Central Railroad as a branch that split from its main line into the city of New Orleans. The railroad, which was built in 1885, was used to carry timber and it was abandoned in the early 1990s as the timber industry slowly declined.
Shortly after the railroad was abandoned, it was converted into the Tammany Trace rail trail in 1993. Learn more about the history of the railroad and the Tammany Trace bike trail at one of the museums along the path (see points of interest below).
Tammany Trace Map + Facts
- Distance: 31 miles one-way
- Elevation gain: 260 ft one-way
- Western trailhead: Covington, Louisiana
- Eastern trailhead: Slidell, Louisiana
- Percent paved: 100%
- Percent bike path: 95% (there are several short stretches on quiet roads)
- Trailheads: Covington, Abita Springs, Koop Drive, Mandeville, Northlake Nature Center, Pelican Park, Fontainebleau State Park, Bayou Lacombe Park (John T Davis Park on map), Lacombe, Slidell-Corollo, Camp Salmen Nature Park, Heritage Park
Tammany Trace Map
Brooks’ Bike Shop has three rental shops along the Tammany Trace Bike Trail: Covington, Mandeville, and Slidell. They rent simple single-speed cruisers for $10/hour or $25/day.
I couldn’t find any shops renting high-end road bikes.
Rules + Etiquette of the trail
There are several rules to follow when biking the Tammany Trace:
- Pets are not allowed on the Tammany Trace
- Electric and motorized vehicles are prohibited (including e-bikes, although I’m not sure anyone will challenge you on this)
- Cyclists must yield to hikers and joggers
- Drugs and alcohol are forbidden
- There is a 15 MPH speed limit
- Camping or fires along the trail are not allowed
Best stops along the Trail
The Tammany Trace stretches for 31 miles from Covington to Slidell and along the way there are lots of great stops and sights. Below are a few of my favorites.
- Covington Trailhead Museum and Visitors Center: This little museum is worth a poke around if you’re in Covington. There are lots of old pictures, a few artifacts, and some history bits of the old railroad during its heyday. It’s free and you can also pick up some maps and get local information.
- H.J.Smith & Sons General Store: Preserved in time, this hardware store is super cool. The best part is the free museum in the back filled with old antiques including a steel coffin, dug-out canoe, and much, much more.
- Saturday Farmer’s Market: If you can, try to ride the Tammany Trace on Saturday so you can hit up the Covington Farmer’s Market. It’s small, but there are some really good vendors selling baked goods, homemade kombucha, honey, soaps, and more.
- Cured on Columbia: I didn’t get to eat here, but I saw some of the dishes through the window and everything looked really good. It would be a great place to stop for a light lunch or snack.
- Marianne Angeli Rodriguez Gallery: I really loved the artwork in this galley. Everything is so full of color. The artist is originally from the Philippines and her artwork showcases a mix of Phillipino and Louisiana touches.
- Mystery House: If you like weird and quirky, you will love the Mystery House! It’s hard to put into words… Just go, you won’t be disappointed. It’s $5 to enter and totally worth it.
- Mama D’s Pizza: Despite the slightly run-down atmosphere, this place serves really good pizza made from scratch by a Turkish family.
- Abita Brew Pub: Located right on the Tammany Trace bike trail, the Abita brewpub has a good food and drink menu. They also have a nice outdoor patio with some games – it’s a great stop if you’re passing through Abita Springs.
- Abita Springs Hotel: I really wish I could have stayed a night a the Abita Springs Hotel. It’s super cute and a bit fancy, but the prices are reasonable. They also have several complimentary bikes to use plus additional rentals through Brooks’ Bike Shop.
- Bayou Lacombe Bridge: This cute little drawbridge gives cyclists access over Bayou Lacombe. It was built in 2008 and there’s also a ranger station, bathrooms, and a water fountain.
- Fontainebleau State Park: The Tammany Trace passes through Fontainebleau State Park, but you can also pedal in through the entrance gates if you want to relax on the lakeshore beaches or hike out on the boardwalk.
- Lakeshore Drive in Mandeville: This will take you off the Tammany Trace in Mandeville, but I recommend pedaling a few blocks out to Lakeshore Drive. It’s really pretty and there are a few restaurants with great views (see The Barley Oak below)
- Old Rail Brewing Company: Located right near the Mandeville Trailhead, the Old Rail Brewing Company is a great place to grab something to eat and/or drink
- Historic Sites of Mandeville self-guided tour: If you’re into history, there’s a map of Mandeville’s Historic sites at the Mandeville Trailhead. You can scan a QR code on your phone and do a self-guided tour with 20 different stops.
- The Barley Oak: This is a fun brew pub on Lakeshore Drive in Mandeville. Grab a beer and bite to eat and enjoy the lake views
I really enjoyed spending a few days exploring the Tammany Trace rail trail. It’s beautiful, quiet, and has some quirky stops that make it unique. If you just have a day, I recommend starting in Covington and pedaling 4 miles (or more) out to Abita Spring where you can visit the Mystery House and grab a bite to eat.
Learn more about the Tammany Trace including closures on the Tammany Trace website.
Have you ridden the Tammany Trace in Louisiana? What’s your favorite rail trail? Let us know in the comments!