Kisatchie National Park

In 1911, President William Howard Taft signed into effect the Weeks Act which made it possible for the government to purchase private lands. It has been called one of the most successful pieces of conservation legislation in U.S. history.

By the late 1920's, most of the sawmills in Vernon Parish had cut out and moved on. They offered their denuded land for sale, usually at rock-bottom prices, but with the loss of sawmill jobs, citizens of the Vernon Parish area were already beginning to feel the threat of the Great Depression and the land was most often left abandoned. Where it was possible, the U.S. government purchased large parcels of these lands to create the Kisatchie National Forest and promote re-forestation throughout the region.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps to provide jobs and training for young men who could do work that would help re-vitalize the country's natural resources. Seeking to re-forest the land as quickly as possible, fast growing slash pine was planted in great quantities to replace the native long-leaf and loblolly pines. Rangers today are rotating areas to replant the original native trees.

The Vernon Unit of the Calcasieu Ranger District of the Kisatchie National Forest encompasses 85,000 acres with several developed recreation complexes and more than 52 miles of trails through pine and hardwood forests over a carpet of blue stem grass.

You can still see the ruins of Fullerton, once the booming sawmill town of the Gulf Lumber Company, at the Fullerton Recreation Site where you can enjoy picnicking, hiking, birding, camping, fishing and non-motorized boating.

Little Cypress features a 3-acre spring-fed pond surrounded by cypress and various hardwoods and is encircled by the 1/2 mile Ol' Sarge Interpretive Trail. A well-maintained playground and covered pavilion with grills makes this site perfect for picnicking and group outings.

A wildlife viewing structure at the Blue Hole Recreation Complex offers visitors an opportunity to sit in shaded comfort while viewing wildlife at its most primitive. Government Pond Recreation Area has camping facilities with nearby horseback riding trails.

The Enduro Trail is the only trail approved for off-road vehicles in the Vernon Unit. It spreads over 30 miles through the forest and has a nearby improved picnic/camp ground. Other trails and campgrounds offer a variety of options for outdoorsmen of all ages.

Wolf Rock offers a glimpse into prehistoric times. Archaeological findings indicate that the cave was used as a habitation by early native people. The cave is somewhat difficult to get to, but visitors can enter the cave for themselves and get a taste of what it would have been like to live there.

Several rare and protected species can be found in the Vernon Unit. One of these, the Louisiana Pine Snake, can only be found in a handful of isolated sites, tiny fragments of land - fragments that are sometimes only the size of a few city blocks - found in the Texas and Louisiana piney woods. These snakes are not poisonous and should not be harassed or killed. Red-cockaded woodpeckers are the only woodpeckers that make their homes in living pine trees. Birders will find that the Vernon Unit of Kisatchie and Fort Polk is home to multiple colonies of these rare birds. The Louisiana Pearlshell Mussel is found in small sandy streams within mixed pine and hardwood forests. More information...

With the numerous scenic areas, bogs, and other special interest areas, the Vernon Unit offers outstanding opportunities to adventurous spirits. Birders can find a wide variety of birds, including the rare Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Bachman's Sparrow, and Brown Headed Nuthatch. Hikers, bikers, and campers love the serenity of the pine forest. Fishing and hunting is allowed in season and with the appropriate licenses.