Refuge Highlight: Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge
February 8, 2024
The US Fish & Wildlife's Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge is located near Houma, La. The 4,619-acre refuge is composed of freshwater marsh and cypress-tupelo swamp. The refuge provides habitat for waterfowl, wading birds, and songbirds.
The refuge's freshwater marshes attract thousands of migratory waterfowl. Forested habitats provide critical spring and fall habitat for migratory birds. A unique habitat at Mandalay is a floating marsh called a flotant marsh. The refuge is intersected with levees and man-made canals and bisected by the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway.
It has a one-mile out-and-back nature trail that is considered an easy route, that takes an average of 25 minutes to complete. However, you may want to stroll and linger because this is a popular spot for birding, and its remoteness allows you to enjoy some solitude during quieter times of the day. It has a short boardwalk at its end that overlooks the marsh. You'll need to leave pups at home — dogs aren't allowed on this trail.
There are Louisiana irises growing along the nature trail that typically bloom during mid to late March. They were in full bloom during the third week of March in 2023.
Other access is by boat only, and foot travel is extremely difficult due to the soft marsh environment. The refuge is open year-round to the public from sunrise to sunset, with seasonal restrictions in some areas. Wildlife observation, boating, and fishing are allowed on the refuge year-round except in areas closed to public access. Hunting is permitted on the refuge in specific areas and under date, time, and lottery restrictions, but not near the nature trail.
Parking is limited to a few cars, but rarely too many people visit at one time for this to create a problem.
Access to the parking lot is down the gravel Rue de la Manson Road off Black Bayou Drive (Hwy 182).