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Experience Ruston Blog

7 Amazing Ways to Enjoy the Outdoors in Ruston, LA

April 13, 2021Written by: AJR Staff

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Love the outdoors? The tall pines and clear lakes of Ruston and Lincoln Parish are calling. North Louisiana has miles of trails worth exploring, a terrain made for mountain biking, and pine needle paths for strolling. You’ll discover countless species of birds along the way and catch more than your fair share of fish. In town, the vibrant art and restaurant scene sets the stage for a remarkable change of pace. There are many amazing ways to relish nature in Ruston and Lincoln Parish. Read on to discover all the possibilities, then plan your North Louisiana getaway here.

James Lake

Go on a Birdwatching Adventure
Home to red-bellied woodpeckers, Acadian flycatchers, belted kingfishers, and great blue herons, and more, Lincoln Parish is both a haven for native and migrating birds and a favorite destination for birdwatchers. Each season welcomes a different species; in spring or fall, the bright splash of yellow on a golden-winged warbler might catch your eye. Watch for the rich pinks of a Roseate spoonbill in summer and the rust-colored feathers of a red-tailed hawk come the chill of winter.

Your best bets are Huckleberry Trails on the outskirts of Ruston or the 1.25-mile James Lake Birding Trail in Dubach, where birds (and birders!) are drawn to the bottomland hardwoods habitat. You’ll find a peaceful viewing platform overlooking James Lake and a pedestrian bridge for a different vantage point. Bring your binoculars and get ready for the birding adventure of a lifetime.  

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Ride the Top-Rated Mountain Biking Trail in Louisiana
Pedal along beautifully maintained switchbacks, fast downhills, jumps, and straight-hill climbs at Lincoln Parish Park, home of the best mountain biking trail in Louisiana. Starting at a shimmering lake, the more-than 10-mile pathway weaves and winds through towering trees. Take in all the views as you work up a sweat in the park, located just five minutes north of Ruston.

For a more casual ride, or if you’re looking for a place to run or hike, Ruston’s Rock Island Greenway is the spot for you. The six-mile trail meanders through the heart of town, passing native forests, rolling farmland, and over the trickling waters of Chautauqua Creek. Set atop the old Rock Island Railroad, the Greenway connects neighborhoods and businesses, making it easy to skip the car and hop on a bike instead. You don’t have to stick to the path either—you’ll find playgrounds, basketball courts, picnic areas, and more along the way.  

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Experience Some of Louisiana’s Best Fishing
Where do folks head for good Louisiana fishing? Straight to Lake D’Arbonne and Lake Claiborne state parks, just a quick drive from Ruston. You know the fish are jumping when both lakes are recognized as one of the top 10 fishing lakes in the state by the Shreveport Times. The crystal-clear waters of Lake D’Arbonne are brimming with bass, crappie, catfish, and bream, all of which you can try to hook at the park’s five fishing piers. Meanwhile, Lake Claiborne is loaded with largemouth bass, bluegill, chain pickerel, channel catfish, and more. Try your catch grilled with a spritz of lemon or flash-fried with hushpuppies and homemade tartar, all the better when made over a live fire in the piney woods of northern Louisiana. 

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Sleep Under the Stars
Hotels have their place, to be sure. And who doesn’t love a cool Airbnb? But sometimes, a night under towering pines by a moon-lit lake is just what the doctor ordered. It’s quiet. You can take a deep breath, exhale, and turn off your phone. In a setting like this, even Instagram can wait. The Ruston area is surrounded by stunning options for camping under the night sky, all just minutes away. Named one of the best places to camp by Traveling Lifestyle, Lincoln Parish Park includes a 10-mile hike-and-bike trail and a sandy beach.

At Lake D’Arbonne State Park, you can set up shop in one of their 65 campsites, 18 cabins, or two lodges. Meanwhile, Lake Claiborne has 10 “glamping” sites, a multitude of campgrounds, and two-bedroom cabins nestled among the pines. Kick back at either park and you’ll enjoy a night immersed in the natural beauty of North Louisiana.

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Savor Locally Grown Peaches
When you see a hand-painted plywood sign promising “Ruston peaches ahead,” you know you’re heading toward some of the best peaches in the country. The reddish-yellow fruit is a big deal around here, in no small part thanks to Mitcham Farms (Louisiana’s largest peach farm), and the can’t-miss Louisiana Peach Festival, a delicious experience dating back to the 1950s.

Save time for a trip to the Mitcham Farms Peach Store, where you’ll find fresh peaches right off the vine in the summer, along with preserves, jellies, salad dressings, desserts, and an abundance of other peachy products. Deciding how many peaches to get is a tough call and, frankly, there’s no need to choose. Buy the whole lot, eat some on the road, and save plenty for peach ice cream and cobbler. Make sure you try the Ruston Red peaches, which are extra sweet and tend to ripen later in the summer towards the end of peach season.

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Appreciate the Local Art Scene
It’s time for a plein air adventure! Embark on a scavenger hunt to discover Ruston’s spectacular murals and the 11 hand-painted bulldog statues spread throughout town. Take in the vibrant geometric shapes of the Downtown Ruston Mural or the Louisiana Center for the Blind Mural that features braille letters in an array of colors. To find the bulldogs, wander through the Ruston Cultural District. The city’s murals add a vibrant layer to the art scene, but there’s even more art to enjoy here. Admire the visual arts in such galleries as the Dunbar Art Gallery and the F. Jay Taylor Visual Arts Center, or create some of your own in The Studio at Walker & Co’s classes and workshops. For dramas, musicals, and concerts, look no further than the likes of the Dixie Center For the Arts or the Stone Theatre and Howard Center for Performing Arts, the main stage for Louisiana Tech University’s productions.

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Savor Outdoor Dining at its Finest
Sometimes, the best companion for a great meal is fresh air. Fortunately, Ruston is full of one-of-a-kind restaurants where you can enjoy an evening outdoors. Part bohemian pub and part lovely patio with a side of dive bar for good measure, Sundown Tavern serves up burgers, sandwiches, and po’boys that perfectly pair with its selection of craft beer. Speaking of brews, Utility Brewing Company is the kind of place you want to visit with an appetite. Order up one of the brewery’s creative pizzas (or build your own), and relish it along with a honey saison, Mexican lager, hazy IPA, or stout.

Craving a special night out? Trio’s brings high-end dining to this college town. Plan your getaway around their indulgent weekend brunch, with Creole crab cake eggs benedict, bananas foster pancakes, and a French press for the table. Visiting for dinner? Get your fill on entrees like grouper tacos, teriyaki salmon, wagyu beef burger, or an enticing menu of pizza and pasta dishes. For more good eats in Ruston, click here.

Whether you’re looking for a weekend in a quiet cabin surrounded by some of Louisiana’s best scenery or for fun times and great eats in a lively college town, Ruston and Lincoln Parish is the place to be. Discover everything this destination has to offer and plan your visit here.

Tags: Attractions  |  Outdoor Adventures  |  Things to Do

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