Finding Friluftsliv

Winter Hiking and Biking in and around New Orleans

Barataria Preserve
Barataria Preserve photo by Melanie Warner Spencer

A couple of weeks ago, a friend sent me a 2020 article, “Embrace Winter Like a Norwegian this Year by Practicing ‘Friluftsliv’.” According to the write up, friluftsliv translates roughly to “open-air-living” and, writes Sasha Brady, is pronounced free-loofts-liv, if, like me, you are wondering. “It’s about embracing the outdoors, even in winter with its chilly temperatures. Taking time to connect with nature, to breathe in fresh air and to appreciate the simplicity of the outdoors,” Brady writes. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for me to learn about this concept. With the COVID-19 omicron variant surging and, days prior, my decree that 2022 would be the year of more hiking, biking and camping, I was ready for adventure. Also, who the heck wants to be outside in Louisiana in the summer. Not this gal. Enter, friluftsliv.

We were already off to a good start, having gotten in a night by the fire pit, plus two hikes by the time my friend sent me the article. Now being utterly charmed by this fun word for being outdoorsy when it’s cold outside, I’m even more committed, because, hello Instagram-worthy scenery and epic outdoor adventure photos hash tagged friluftsliv. Seriously, check out the #friluftsliv page on Instagram. Some of the images are breathtaking and you’ve never seen so many wooly sweaters, puffer jackets, dogs, fancy canteens, mobile coffee contraptions and attractive men with beards.


If you’d like to join me in some brisk alfresco fun, here are some fantastic hiking trails in the area to get you started.

  1. Northlake Nature Center in Mandeville is situated on 400 acres and has hardwood forest, pine-hardwood forest and pond-swamp. A lot of the trees and other foliage are marked, which makes it not only fun, but also educational.
  2. Barataria Preserve at Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve in Marrero is a 26,000-acres wonderland of forests, swamps, marshes and bayous. Even though the visitor’s center and several trails are closed, there is still a lot to see and hike. Wear proper foot gear though, as it can be a little muddy in spots.
  3. Smack in the middle of New Orleans at City Park is Couturie Forest and Arboretum Trail. This is great if you are looking for a quick and easy nature trail, as it’s a 60-acre area. Bonus, you can sit atop the highest point in New Orleans, Laborde Mountain.
  4. We haven’t hit it yet this year, but one of my favorite places to bike is the Tammany Trace, which goes from downtown Covington all the way through Abita Springs, Mandeville and Lacombe, then winds up in Slidell. The Mandeville to Covington stretch is perfect for an afternoon.


There are of course more trails in the area, but these are easily my favorites and each one offers gorgeous, Instagrammable scenery and a few hours getting lost in the beautiful and diverse South Louisiana landscape. Bundle up and enjoy friluftsliv!

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