With so many things to do in DeSoto, outdoor adventure tops the bucket list. Toledo Bend Reservoir’s bass fishing accolades are no joke, with more than 100 national and regional fishing tournaments held here annually. Anglers have caught impressive numbers of lunkers (fish weighing more than ten pounds), tempting them with the promise of catching a record-breaker. It’s not just multiple species of bass that lie in these blue waters. The lake is filled with crappie, catfish, and many other great catches. Naturally, with all that fishing, you will find everything you need for success, including bait shops, boat launches and knowledgeable guides.
Tiny Keachi, with a population of around 300 and a physical area of just five square miles, is home to one of Louisiana’s best-preserved collections of historic Greek Revival architecture. The town was settled in the 1840s by families from South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama, who introduced the style to the Louisiana frontier. Keachi has an impressive eleven sites on the National Register of Historic Places including Allen House, Keachi Baptist Church, Keachi Presbyterian Church and more.
Experience DeSoto Parish’s artsy side with a trip to the Village of Grand Cane, where Main Street holds shops, cafes, and the Back Alley Community Theatre, a local troupe that stages musicals and plays throughout the year. The Cook-Hill House Bed and Breakfast, located a few blocks off Main Street, provides a comfy respite for travelers. The town is one of forty-four official cultural districts in Louisiana.
Situated on the Sabine River, Logansport is a great place to experience the area’s rugged beauty and friendly people. At the Dennis Freeman Memorial River Park, stroll on the 1,000-foot boardwalk that winds along the Sabine River, leading to a scenic overlook. It is perfect for fishing or watching the sunset. Families also love the playground. Grab at a bite at River’s Edge Restaurant on Main Street, known for its seafood, steaks and frog legs. Other local favorites include Mayte’s Mexican, Big Zach’s, and The Crawfish Shack. Logansport hosts the annual Sand Bass Tournament, River City Fest, Mardi Gras events, Logansport Christmas Festival, and other festivals.
DeSoto Parish’s Civil War sites help visitors learn more about America’s bloodiest conflict. At the Mansfield State Historic Site, walk on a real battlefield and visit an interpretative center detailing the battles that took place in the area toward the end of the war, when both sides vied for control of the Red River. The state park presents regular musket demonstrations, candlelight tours of the battlefield and other events that help visitors understand the war’s grim conditions.
Visit the graves of more than 100 Confederate soldiers who died in the battle at the Confederate Memorial Cemetery in Keachi. Nearby, in the town of Pelican, an annual reenactment of the Battle of Pleasant Hill takes place on the second full weekend in April. The event draws scores of visitors to the area for cannon firing, period dress, a battle reenactment and a fantastic festival.
Enjoy the stunning beauty of the Toledo Bend Reservoir and its adjacent forest on the Toledo Bend Forest Scenic Byway. The 78-mile-drive parallels the reservoir, giving motorists a clear vista of lake on one side and the lush pine forests on the other. Throughout the area, find parks, fishing areas, outlooks, marinas and golf courses. In the spring, spot migratory birds, native wildflowers and blooming trees. Twenty-six miles of bike trails give you a break from the car. Hop in a canoe, paddleboat or motorboat to enjoy the largest manmade built lake in the south.
DeSoto Parish is known for its serene beauty, and nowhere is this more apparent than at the historic Rock Chapel in Mansfield. Meander down country roads to reach this gorgeous hidden sanctuary, built in 1891 by Carmelite monks from the former Carmelite Monastery nearby. The Monastery was destroyed by fire in 1904, and the Rock Chapel is the only remaining building of this peaceful religious community. The stone structure’s breathtaking interior murals and frescoes were restored in 1960.
Discover more about Louisiana wines at Kickapoo Twist, a local winery that produces small-batch fruit wines from native red and white muscadines, and red and white wines from Cabernet, Lenoir and Blanc du Blanc grapes. Sample them in the tasting room as you look out onto the quaint, five-acre vineyard.
Visit the first women’s college west of the Mississippi River at the Mansfield Female College Museum. Established by the Methodist Church in the 1850s, the Mansfield Female College-educated women in the area for more than 70 years until it closed and merged with Centenary College in Shreveport. The state-run museum holds fascinating exhibits, including art and pottery made by students, memorabilia, commencement dresses and more. The building was used during the Civil War for wounded soldiers, and following the war, students believe a ghost haunted the school and made the rumored apparition a sort of mascot.
Hop on your motorcycle, minibike or all-terrain vehicle and enjoy the trails at the DeSoto Motorsport Park, a 35-acre facility that invites beginners and professional riders. The park contains an outdoor motocross track, a minibike track and fifteen miles of wooded trails. A concession stand is available on site.