BREC CAPP (Capital Area Pathways Project) Blueways:
BREC is dedicated to providing a wide variety of recreational opportunities to East Baton Rouge Parish and our new Blueway trails are a great way to connect to nature and relax in the outdoors. Please plan your trip and know before you go; read all rules and regulations and plan your put-in and take-out locations with care. Below is some information to get your paddling trip started.
The Blueways trails effort is part of the Capital Area Pathways Project, an initiative intended to identify routes and build a network of connecting trails and greenways throughout East Baton Rouge Parish. To learn more about the CAPP, visit the CAPP Planning Page.
BREC Blueway Map
BREC’s launch at Highland Rd. Community Park is up and running providing paddling access to Bayou Fountain and ultimately Bayou Manchac. BREC does not currently have any other official launches complete. At this time we recommend two routes which would allow you to enjoy Bayou Fountain while not needing a separate take-out location. If you intend to take-out at a different location please be sure it is a public launch that is safe and accessible which you have permission to use.
Existing Launches as of July, 2018:
- Greenwood Community Park Pond
- City Park Lake
- Milford Wampold Memorial Park (University Lake)
- Burbank Soccer Complex
- Our first launch on a parish waterway, access to Bayou Fountain at Highland Road Park in 2017
Current Blueway Map
Paddle BR is a great local organization that BREC has partnered with in the past to provide paddling programs. You can find additional maps and paddling information for East Baton Rouge Parish on their web blog. Please note that not all the launches on their map are established any many are difficult to access.
Future Blueway Vision Map
BREC’s Planning and Engineering department is working hard to negotiate with landowners and partners to get more blueway launches up and running. Although the Highland Rd. Community Park Launch is the only one completed, below is map of potential other sites and routes we hope to bring you in the future.
Proposed Launches 2019/2020:
- Access to Bayou Manchac at Manchac Park
- Access to Wards Creek at Airline Highway Park (Fairgrounds)
- Connect Wards Creek to Bayou Fountain via Oschner Surgical Center
- Connect Airline Highway Launch to Comite River at Waddell – would require property acquisition and permits/JUA from DOTD
- Connect Airline Highway Launch to Blackwater – would require property acquisition and permits/JUA from DOTD
- Comite River Diversion project - will need to discuss with Garrett Graves and others
Blueway Rules and Regulations
Rules and Regulations and Safety Course links:
- Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Boating Regulations
- American Red Cross Small Craft Safety Courses
- American Red Cross Water Safety and Swimming Courses
- United State Coast Guard Regulations
- BREC Paddle-Up Program Courses
Planning Your Trip
Knowing where you plan to go, what to expect, how long you intend to be gone, the rules of the waterway and any potential hazards can make or break your trip. Understanding water conditions, weather forecast and taking these into account when planning where you plan to go and how long you plan to be gone are crucial parts of paddling. Prepare a float plan and provide this information to a close friend or family member that is NOT coming with you to ensure they know where you are heading and when you plan to return from your trip.
As you prepare, know your limits and those of others in your party. Keep your cell-phone accessible in a waterproof and floatable case. Keep a copy of the map handy in case you need to reference and don’t be afraid to turn around and call it an early day if you feel tired or unprepared.
Checklist of Items to Take:
- PFDs; life vests
- Appropriate Clothing
- First Aid Kit with matches
- Waterproof bag/ pouch for cell phone and other items
- Small repair kit including duct tape
- Compass, GPS, map
- Spare paddle
- Safety whistle
- Personal Items (prescribed medications, etc.)
Current Water Conditions
High water and flood conditions have the potential to make the waterway hazardous and paddling during these times should be avoided. Check the water levels in advance to ensure levels have decreased after heavy rains and are not anticipated to raise before or during your paddle.
- NOAA Stream Gauge: Bayou Fountain at Bluebonnet Blvd.
- NOAA Stream Gauge: Bayou Manchac at Alligator Bayou
- NOAA Stream Gauge: Bayou Manchac near Little Prairie
Current Weather Forecast
Storms and rain events can move in quickly and unexpectedly during summer months. Know the forecast before you go and check upon your arrival to the launch before you get on the water. In the event of inclement weather that includes the risk of lightning, paddle to shore, secure your boat and find cover under a dense stand of small trees. Avoid open areas, and avoid gathering in large groups. Squatting, with your feet on a personal flotation device or seat cushion, is a good idea when in the midst of a thunderstorm…while on solid ground, not in your boat!!
Basic Paddling How-to’s
You should have a basic understanding of paddling prior to going on your trip. Experience in slow moving water or on a lake is suggested before entering a navigable waterway. Below are a few refreshers.
How to safely get in and out of your kayak
- 1. Place your kayak in the water and pull it parallel to the launch steps facing the bayou.
- 2. Ensure that your gear is within reach or within the kayak and sit on the lowest step next to your kayak or canoe.
- 3. Place your paddle at 90 degrees to the kayak with the shaft resting on your boat right behind your seat and one of the blades resting on the lowest step of the launch.
- 4. Grasp the paddle shaft with one hand behind your back and then the other and squat down beside your kayak with your weight on the paddle.
- 5. Place one foot at a time within the kayak and slip onto or into your boat. Make sure throughout this process to keep some weight on the side of the paddle resting on the launch steps. This is your outrigger that is keeping you in place and preventing you from floating away from the launch before you are ready.
- 6. Before releasing your weight on your outrigger/paddle make sure you are balanced and grab any remaining gear from the dock.
- 7. Release your grasp on the paddle with one hand and use the other to rotate it in an arc so it is now in front of you. You can now gently push off and begin paddling
*It may be necessary to step into the water to get safely into your boat. Make sure to utilize the lowest reachable step when launching.
Basic Canoe Strokes
Leave No Trace Principles
You are not the only one who enjoys spending time in Louisiana’s waterways. Our rivers, streams and bayous are important components of local ecosystems and the home to many plants and wildlife. You are their guest for a day so leave it nicer than when you arrived. Remember, “A Good Traveler Leaves No Tracks.”
To learn more about local waterways and how you can help keep watersheds clean visit brec.org/watersheds