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Backbone Trail

Located in the Kisatchie Hills Wilderness just north of Alexandria, Louisiana, the Backbone Trail is the best backpacking experience in Louisiana. With plenty of primitive campsites and several spur trails to explore, you could make a great weekend trip out of this trail. The main trail is 7.7-miles one-way. This guide follows the Backbone trail from the south trailhead, near the Caroline Dormon trailhead. You have the option of doing either a 15-mile out and back or a 9-mile loop by including a 3-mile road walk to get back to your car.


From the beginning, you will see that this is not an ordinary trail for Louisiana. Sandstone hills, outcrops, and some great views make this a one of a kind experience for Louisiana backpackers.



A nice view of Bayou Cypre

The first 2-3 miles will take you up and down sandstone hills and small outlets of Bayou Cypre create temporary water crossings that should not be relied upon as a water source. There is a crossing at the halfway point on the trail that is the only reliable water source. 



Close to 3 miles into the trail you come to the junction with the Turpentine trail


At around the halfway point, you will cross Bayou Cypre and make a big climb to the hilltop that the trail will stay on the rest of the way. The trail will stay pretty level for the last 3 miles or so. There are some open areas where pine beetles have devastated stands of longleaf pine so expect trees down on the trail. There is a number of good campsite off the trail but be careful you aren't setting up your tent under one of these dead trees.

Quick Stats

Length: 7.5 Miles

Difficulty: Moderate

One Way


After you climb out of the Bayou, you find this great campsite on a sandstone outcrop.


Sunrise at a campsite just off the trail.


The High Ridge Trail is a 2 mile out and back trail.



Around a half mile from the High Ridge Trail junction, there is a spur trail on the right which leads to a great campsite on a sandstone outcrop.

When you reach the north traiIhead you can make a 3-mile road walk to return to your car if you parked at the Caroline Dormon trailhead. I love this trail and it has a special place in my heart. My first backpacking experience was here 5 years ago and it's where I spent my first night camping alone (Yes I was terrified).  

Trail Map / GPS Track


Video Guide


Kisatchie NF Website

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