How did you first learn about the Sicily Island Hills?

Posted: August 30, 2009 in Homepage

I often wonder how people discovered for themselves the wonders of the Sicily Island Hills and especially the waterfalls there. My first exposure to the beauty of these hills was in the ’90s when I was thumbing through C.C. Lockwoods book, “Discovering Louisiana“. Seeing his photograph of the waterfall in the Sicily Island Hills WMA had me double checking the book cover in the event I had misread the title. I just wasn’t expecting a book about Louisiana to include an area that had waterfalls and steep terrain.

Earlier this summer, I contacted C.C. and I re-read my copy of the book’s account of his trip to Sicily Island Hills.  It seems that he was informed of Sicily Island Hills by Annette Parker of the Louisiana Native Plant Society. I haven’t been able to interview Annette yet but I would love to know who first told her of this phenomenal place.

In my own experience after reading about the waterfall, I went to the one person I felt could lead me on my quest.  My friend R.Dale Thomas was in his lab that Monday pressing specimens for his vast herbarium collection. As it turned out that next Saturday, Dale was leading a botany field trip to Sicily Island Hills and he invited me to tag along.

With great excitement, I met Dale and his students at the (then) NLU-Franklin campus and a short time later we were on our way driving on LA 15 past the large cotton fieldsof the area. After a right turn at Peck we then made a bee line for the Sicily Island Hills. Along the way we passed Norris Springs, a natural spring of the east Sicily Island Hills,  that has quenched the thirst of travellers to the area for well over a hundred years. I would love to see Norris Springs perimeter  landscaped with native plants and to see neighborhood kids selling lemonade to passing motorists. Its a special place that deserves to be preserved.

Past the springs and a right turn later onto LA 8 at Leland, we were approaching the southern entrance to Sicily Island Hills Wildlife Management Area. Not far off the road we entered the forest and then ascended the first gravelly hill. About 2.5 miles from the highway we pulled over and parked. We  started walking first down, then up hills until before long we saw a tiny stream of water  and then moments later the sound of running water.  There below us we saw a waterfall with a steep narrow, twisting canyon beyond. It was a special moment I shall never forget.

On dozens of days over the years  in winter, spring, summer and fall I have visited these hills alone, with my children or with a friend and every trip has been as refreshing as one before.

I would enjoy hearing of others first experiences in visiting the secluded riches of the Sicily Island Hills.


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