Places to Paddle tm
Canoeing - Kayaking - Rafting

Buffalo Cove, Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana USA
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Copyright 2002 Alfonso Vazquez-Cuervo - See Terms of Use

Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by: Marilyn Kircus mkircus@academicplanet.com
  • Date Submitted: 2/2002
  • Location: Lake Fausse Point State Park near Henderson and St. Martinville, Louisiana
  • GPS: N 30 degrees 3.723 minutes, W 91 degrees 35.869 minutes)
  • Class: 1
  • Distance Paddled: 12.5 miles
  • Water Level: Water levels vary by as much as 12 feet during the year. We went at the time the water is low. In the spring, it rises and then falls to low water in the fall. This will totally change the topography and you will be able to go more places but will miss the channels.
  • Water: fresh
  • Wildlife: hawks, osprey, great blue heron, great egret, few rolling or splashing gar (fish), spring peepers, tupelo, cypress
  • Special Regulations: none

Entry

  • Directions: Put in at Sandy Cove Landing, 2.9 miles south of park entrance. Lake Fausse Pointe State Park is located south of I-10, some 18 miles southeast of St. Martinville on the West Atchafalaya Protection Levee Road. From St. Martinville, take LA 96 to LA 679, then to LA 3083. Turn right onto Levee Road for 7 miles." You can also access the Levee road from Henderson but it is another 11 miles of dirt road. The part from 3083 to the park is paved. But south of the park and north of 3083 is not paved. More park info is at: http://www.crt.state.la.us/crt/parks/lakefaus/lakefaus.htm
  • GPS: N 30 degrees, 01.613 minutes, W 91degrees, 33.985 minutes
  • Fee:
  • Description: boat ramps were paved and about 3 cars wide.
  • Parking: unpaved road and the lots were unpaved
  • Facilities: Rest rooms
  • Handicap Access: none

Exit Into Portage

  • Directions: About 20 minutes into the trip we spotted a couple of houseboats to river right and another little blue one to river left. Our guide, Chuck, led the way across the river and paddled a little upstream to get back up north of the houseboat. The boat was in front of what looked like a garage or a shop with a little camp house behind that. A huge, ten foot wide swing was in the yard. This marked the place where we dragged our boats up a steep muddy bank and then carried them a short way to more water.
  • Fee: none
  • Description: very muddy bank
  • Parking: none
  • Facilities: none
  • Handicap Access: none

Entry After Portage

  • Directions: But after the bank, the portage was short, through a little opening in the woods to a tiny cove that lead out to a lake. In about 20 minutes, all of us were back on the water and paddling past a little camp to a small lake. I can't find the name of the lake on any maps I have but it was one of a pair of finger lakes.
  • Fee: none
  • Description: dirt shore at cove on lake
  • Parking: none
  • Facilities: none
  • Handicap Access: none

Exit

  • Directions: Ruez Landing, just a little ways down Little Lake Long, about 4 more miles south of Sandy Cove on same levy road.
  • GPS: N 29 degrees 58.050 minutes, W 91 degrees, 32.445 minutes
  • Fee:
  • Description:
  • Parking: Just dirt and grass
  • Facilities: Rest rooms
  • Handicap Access: none
 

What We Saw

Those of us from Houston and some of the South Louisianians met at Lake Fausse Point State Park which is inside the geographic basin but just outside the manmade levee along the Atchafalaya River and camped together Friday night before meeting the rest of the group on Saturday morning. We slept to the raucous sounds of spring peepers.

The put-in, Sandy Cove Landing, was only a few miles south down the levy road from the park so we ate a leisurely breakfast and broke camp. I had time take a short walk and enjoy birds, the red maples that were leafing out and sprouting violets.. We met the rest of the group around 10:00 A to run the shuttle which turned out to be only about 4 miles further south on the same levy road. A pickup served as the shuttle vehicle to haul us all back. I found myself squeezed in the back with 11 other friendly people while the driver and the the 2 luckiest passengers rode up front. But I had a fine time meeting old and new friends. (This trip had paddlers from Houston, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, and many small towns from the north side of Lake Ponchertrain.)

Finally, about 11:00A, all 32 of the group were starting to put in and paddle down Fausse Point Cut. The day was just perfect, with bright sun, a light breeze and a temperature that started in the high 50's and probably reached the high 60's. I was paddling with Hulin, my oldest paddling buddy, in my tandem Winonoh Sundowner. Others were paddling in flat water solo or tandem canoes, white water canoes, sea kayaks, and even white water or down river kayaks. It was a very diverse group. The cut was wide and lined with dormant trees, including tupelo and some cypress.

About 20 minutes into the trip we spotted a couple of houseboats to river right and another little blue one to river left (see photo at right). Our guide, Chuck, led the way across the river and paddled a little upstream to get back up north of the houseboat. The boat was in front of what looked like a garage or a shop with a little camp house behind that. A huge, ten foot wide swing was in the yard. This marked the place where we were going to have to drag our boats up a steep muddy bank (see "Exit into Portage" photo above) and then carry them a short way to more water. The soil here is almost pure clay and it had rained heavily in the last few days so this was quite an undertaking, especially for the fist people to get out. A few canoe paddlers got out first and some stationed themselves into holes stomped into the mud and then helped others up the bank before handing the boats up from one to another. These people sunk deeper into the mud and some eventually had sunk to mid calf.

But after the bank, the portage was short, through a little opening in the woods to a tiny cove that lead out to a lake. In about 20 minutes, all of us were back on the water and paddling past a little camp to a small lake. I can't find the name of the lake on any maps I have but it was one of a pair of finger lakes. We were in the easternmost one and paddled up it till we were about even with south tip of the western one. Then we turned around and found a little semi dry spot on the west bank, not far north of where we had entered the lake.

There we took a lunch break and sat and visited. The high point was when one of the canoeists fell in while getting back in his boat. He was paddling a white water canoe and had left the bow on the bank and it just spit him back out. The rest of us had no problems boarding and were soon paddling out the south end of the lake into a little pass on the way to Buffalo Cove.

GPS: N 30 degrees 0.532 minutes W 91 degrees 32.450 minutes

Waypoint on the channel (to avoid getting lost in the trees)
GPS: N 30 degrees 0.322minutes W 91 degrees 32.290 minutes

Waypoint as the channel opened into the north side of Buffalo Cove (traveling southeast down the channel)
GPS: N 29 degrees 0.936 minutes W 91 degrees 31.720 minutes

Buffalo Cove used to be a much larger body of water but willow trees are starting to take over a large portion of it. They sprout and help hold mud and gradually help build up land. But we enjoyed paddling among the cypress trees on the way to the cove. We followed the line of white poles over to the southeast side of the Cove and took another little pass down to Lake Long.

GPS: N 29 degrees 58.865 minutes W 91 degrees 32.554 minutes

GPS: N 23 degrees 58.824 minutes W 91 degrees 32.730 minutes

Waypoint on Lake Long at a little island about a mile north of the cut to Ruez Landing:
GPS: N 29 degrees 59.919 minutes W 91 degrees 32.373 minutes

Then we turned north again and paddled up Lake Long and back into Fausse Point Cut (actually this is all the same body of water) until we spied the houseboats to river right and the blue houseboat to river left. We crossed to the west side of the stream and took another little bayou or cut that went a little west and then mostly south back down to our cars. We took out at Ruez Landing which is just a little ways down Little Lake Long. We spent several minutes washing the gooey mud off and out of our boats.

But soon we were all loaded up and ready to go back to camping or to our homes. About 20 of us decided to go up to Henderson and eat at a little restaurant. I didn't like it. I recommend Landry's - this is the best restaurant in the chain, in my opinion, or a little hole in the wall place just behind Landrys. However, you will need to change clothes to eat at Landrys. You can also enjoy the works of local artists while you wait for your food. Both of these are just north of I-10.

Map

Cautions: This whole area looks a lot alike. It is very easy to get lost. Be sure to have good map skills, a compass, a GPS if you have one, and pay attention to what the area behind you looks like.

We were with a professional basin guide for an outdoor store. He was using a map and piloting, having scouted the entire trip beforehand. However, I have spent a long Thanksgiving weekend in the eastern part of the Basin and while the person I was with had paddled in parts of our trip, he hadn't done all of it. But he was able to use maps and do pretty well. But we had one loop route where we paddled down a stream that had a current of 5-6 miles per hour. When we got to the last leg of our loop, we found the stream had silted in . We had to go back the way we had come and stop at a deer camp and ask for a tow up through the heavy current. The man who took us said that change is a major feature in the basin. He pointed out a large island and told us it was only five years old. He said a stream could be twelve feet deep one year and the next be completely filled with silt. So it is best to consider alternate routes in case the route you plan isn't possible.