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MARRERO, La. – If you want to find out the difference between a swamp and a marsh, the Barataria Preserve is an ideal place to explore. Multiple boardwalk trails cover miles of wilderness, complete with cypress trees, wild birds and the occasional alligator sighting.

It’s a showcase for Louisiana’s wild side, and park rangers at the Visitor Center  can help you choose the right trail to match your schedule and wildlife wishes.

“What I appreciate about the Winter is that you have perspective,” explains Park Ranger Aleutia Scott.

With fewer leaves on the trees, hikers can see deep into the forest. If you begin with the Visitor Center Trail, you’ll start in a swamp, and a couple of miles later, you’ll be in the marsh.

“A marsh is a flooded grass land, so when we get to the marsh the view will open up and you’ll see out into the distance. You’ll see grasses but no trees,” describes Aleutia.

On the afternoon that WGNO’s Travel Girl, Stephanie Oswald was there, a young adult alligator was sunning itself just inches from the boardwalk on the Palmetto Trail.

Ranger Aleutia reminds us to respect the wildlife, and she says there’s nothing to be afraid of, because the alligators in the park are used to the noise and presence of the visitors.  So enjoy the photo opportunity, and then continue your walk on the wild side!