Beginning Wednesday, September 14, 2022, the Bayou Fountain Boat Launch at Highland Road Community Park will be closed until further notice. The U.S. Army Core of Engineers will be undertaking a clearing and snagging project that will require the waterways to be totally clear.
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 Greenways, 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 2022:
- 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.
Download the Future Blueway Vision Map
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
WARNING: Please note that paddling and boating are potentially hazardous recreational activities. The risk of injury from canoeing and kayaking can be significant including the potential for serious injury, disability, paralysis and death. There are no lifeguards or safety personnel at the launch or along the blueway route. Proceed at your own risk.
BREC owns and operates this canoe/kayak boat launch for public use but does not have jurisdiction or control of the waterway. The rules and regulations of East Baton Rouge Parish, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the United States Coast Guard apply to users of this waterway.
BY USING THIS BREC LAUNCH YOU AGREE TO FOLLOW THESE RULES:
- NO MOTORS The boat launch is restricted to human propelled water craft.
- NO SWIMMING Bayou Fountain is not suitable or safe for swimming. Water quality varies with water flow and branches, logs, and debris may move after flood events. The muddy water may hide hidden objects and obstacles that may prove hazardous.
- LAUNCH CLOSES AT DARK This BREC park is open from sunrise to sunset. Please plan your trip accordingly and ensure you arrive back in time to load your watercraft before dark. Camping here or along waterway is not permitted. (Ord. No. 9745, § 1, 11-10-93)
- STAY IN THE STREAM CHANNEL Bayou Fountain flows through private land. Do not trespass. Stay in your boat.
- KNOW STREAM CONDITIONS & YOUR PADDLING CAPABILITIES Bayou Fountain is normally a lazy, slow moving stream, but can change with weather conditions. Water depth may exceed 10 feet and have a swift current at higher water levels. Take precaution and make sure your skill level is up to stream conditions. You can check water conditions on weather.gov
- PLAN YOUR TRIP Familiarize yourself with the waterway before beginning. You can paddle Bayou Fountain upstream or downstream unless the current is fast. Downstream travel is suggested for intermediate to advanced paddlers and if you choose to paddle downstream there are currently no authorized BREC takeout locations, the nearestnon-BREC public boat launch is Ducros Launch located on Bayou Manchac, 11 miles downstream.
- WEAR YOUR LIFE JACKET All boats, including canoes and kayaks, must be equipped with one Type I, II, III or V wearable PFD for each person on board (if under 13 years old, the PFD must be worn at all times). (Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Boating Regulations)
- WEAR PROPER CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR Footwear is extremely important. The river bottom is muddy and contains pointed logs and sharp metal and glass objects. River shoes or old sneakers are the best footwear for water sports.
- BEWARE OF HAZARDS As with any outdoor area, there are things that you must be aware of. Low hanging branches (sweepers), branches in water (strainers), submerged obstacles (sliders), slippery banks, trash and sharp objects on the stream bottom. Also present are natural hazards such as hanging wasp’s nests, snakes, poison ivy, and human hazards such as broken glass, rusty metal, lines in branches with leftover fishing hooks attached.
- TAKE A CANOE/KAYAK SAFETY COURSE BREC, LDWF, RED CROSS, US COAST GUARD, or other boating safety organization.
- FISHING LICENSE REQUIRED Please follow all Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Regulations when fishing within a BREC park or on a local waterway. Hunting within a BREC park or on private property along the blueway is not permitted.
- NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES Possession and consumption of alcohol within BREC parks is not permitted. (City Code 1951, Title 13, § 106; Parish Code 1962, Title 13, § 416; Ord. No. 9080, § 1, 4-25-90)
- BE A GOOD OUTDOOR STEWARD Don’t litter. Pack in and pack out. Don’t disturb the plants or wildlife.
IN CASE OF EMERGENCIES: 911
PARK RANGER HOTLINE: (225) 252-2620
EAST BATON ROUGE SHERIFF: (225) 389-5000
By using BREC’s Blueway Launch, you agree to follow all BREC Rules and Regulations and release BREC from all liability in respect to any and all injury, disability, death or loss or damage to person or property associated with use of launch.
Click to download rules
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!!
NOAA Local Weather Forecast: Bayou Fountain Area
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