The Northlake Nature Center, a 400-acre nature preserve east of Mandeville, LA, has expanded it's outings schedule to include kayaking on Bayou Castine, mountain biking on the center's trails, paddle boarding and yoga.
The events are open to the public but first notice of the events is given to NNC members via newsletter. The NNC Facebook page (click Like, then click Events) is another source of information. Members attend the events for free, non-members are requested to donate $5.
While events are often in the works for a while they can be scheduled quite suddenly, but so far the response to the expanded programming has been strong, said NNC executive director Rue McNeill.
"The kayak trips were filled a month ago," McNeill said as she busily logged in participants and watched staff from Massey's Outfitters in Covington launch novice kayakers of all ages into the still, black waters of Bayou Castine for a two-mile out-and-back through the swamp.
The NNC website www.northlakenature.org offers membership applications via PayPal. The site also has a good map of the facility but the outings information is out of date.
Off the water the preserve offers three trails totaling almost four miles. The trails wind through four ecosystems: hardwood forest, pine-hardwood forest, pine savanna and pond-swamp. The pond-swamp is a product of a large beaver lodge which may or may not still be active. The NNC can become a resource for local environmental educators looking for a nature hike for "kids" of all ages. Guided hikes lead by local naturalists, adult education seminars and hands-on nature walks for school groups, summer camps and clubs can be arranged.
In the spring the NNC preserve is the headquarters for the Great Louisiana BirdFest. The NNC is located next to the Pelican Park Sports Complex which is connected to the Tammany Trace rails-to-trails.
The preserve, the trails, and canoe/kayak launch are open dawn to dusk every day. Admission is free. Access is north, off U.S. 190. HEADING EAST ON U.S. 190 HAVE YOUR TURN SIGNAL ON AND BE READY TO STOP AND TURN ALMOST IMMEDIATELY AFTER CROSSING THE BRIDGE OVER BAYOU CASTINE!!!