Lake Bruin State Park is a state park located in Iberia Parish, Louisiana. The park consists of 1,400 acres (5km2) situated around Lake Bruin and 10 miles (16km) west of St. Martinville. It was opened to the public on June 22, 2006. The name “Bruin” derives from the French word for bear. This name stems from the fact that this area once agains resembled a forest after having been cleared by settlers; it now resembles more of a marshy prairie than a wooded landscape. However, as with most marshes, periodic flooding remains an issue, and extensive efforts are made each year to drain off excess water. A series of dikes and levees are in place to protect against future floods. Lake Bruin itself has become iconic within the local music scene, with bands such as Zydeco Red Hot Sauce playing here annually.
The lake provides excellent fishing opportunities for bream, catfish, crappie, and bass, among others. There is also a group camping facility at the park which offers ten sites amongst the trees. Campsites range from two-person tents to full hookup RV facilities. Other amenities include boat ramps, picnic areas, playgrounds, and a general store. In addition there is a meeting room available for rental when required. Lake Bruin State Park features four distinct trails, all of which start and end near the campground. These trails provide excellent views of the surrounding countryside and feature several scenic overlooks. They are also used for running, walking, bicycling, and horseback riding. Hikers need to be wary of the large number of rattle snakes that call this region home, but they are rarely encountered.
Lake Bruin State Park’s main trail is the 0.8 mile long Yellow Trail, named for the high grass that surrounds it. This path passes through dense vegetation, crosses Bayou Bartholomew Creek, and leads past the old plantation house. The 1.1 mile long Green Trail starts near the parking lot and runs north along the east bank of the lake. After reaching the road, it turns west and heads out into the country, eventually leading back to the bayou. The 2.3 mile long Blue Trail begins across from the yellow trail and makes its way northeast toward Caney Creek. At approximately one third of the distance, it intersects with the green trail. Then continuing due north, it ends up looping back around the lake near the Barksdale Road bridge. The 3.4 mile long Black Trail starts across from the blue trail and makes its way northwest, ending near the entrance gate. All trail classifications and distances are provided by the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.
Lake Bruin State Park hosts an annual Mardi Gras Fat Bike race, where participants use modified bicycles designed for off-road use to ride down rural roads, jump over fences, and generally get lost in the woods. The event is organized by the non-profit organization Backroads Cycling Center, who hold similar events throughout the year. The inaugural event was held February 18, 2008, and featured 24 teams of two riders attempting to complete 12 different courses in under 30 minutes. As of 2010, the event takes place the second full weekend in February. Over 100,000 people typically attend these races. Lake Bruin State Park holds multiple equestrian events each year. Riders compete in endurance rides, time trials, polo matches, and jumping competitions. Horses brought in by trailer must have current negative Coggins papers. No animals allowed onto the course except for those trained for safety reasons. Horses not permitted to run during regular racing hours. Equestrians are only allowed in certain parts of the park, and they must follow specific routes and stay on designated trails. Rides usually begin and end near the parking lot, although there are some loops further afield.
Visitors can explore the trails winding through the park or take advantage of the numerous outdoor activities offered here including:
- horseback riding
- mountain biking
- wildlife viewing
- swamp buggy driving
- nature photography