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2770 Interstate 10 East
Beaumont, TX 77703
(409) 860-5959

Hodges Gardens
      Welcome to Hodges Gardens State Park!
     Ever wonder where the rocks for the Port Arthur Jetty
came from?  Would you believe they were brought in by
horse drawn wagon, one rock at a time from a quarry in
central Louisiana.  As a veteran of the bicycle business
since 1977, the first thought that raced thru my mind was,
“Wow!  I wonder how many trips a set of wagon wheels
could make?  It took those guys three days to get from
the mine to Pt Arthur to make their deliveries.  Lord knows
how long it took them to get unloaded and back.  That had
to be quite a job for those old wooden wheels!

     Pictured above is the "Texas Overlook" across from the Park Office at Hogdes Gardens, LA.
     Texas is 14 miles away!

     Hodges Gardens, located 3.5 miles south of Many Louisiana,
     1000 Hodges Loop, Florien, LA 71429 - 318-586-4020 - or - 800-354-3523
     For reservations, call 1-877-CAMP-N-LA (877-226-7652)
     Different Info:: Hodges Gardens

     In the past, the area including Hodges Gardens was the home for Native American Indians, Spanish & French Explorers and the rascals and highwaymen that Louisiana is famous for today.  

     A petrified log overlooking the 225 acre lake built in 1954.

     Early explorers forged a road known as the El Camino Reyal (or Kings Highway) thru the wilderness originating in Natchitoches, stretching to the west, with ultimate destinations in Texas and Mexico.  Many early settlers of the south passed rite over the property that is now known as Hodges Gardens.

     This area will be a Butterfly Garden in the spring.  It will contain plants that will attract butterflies naturally.  
Some plants will be attractive for laying eggs- plants that the caterpillars will then devour!  
Other plants will flower and provide the butterflies food.  Wow!  I can't wait!

     In 1898 stonemasons began mining sandstone from a quarry to build, among other things, the Jetty’s in Port Arthur.  The quarry was soon abandoned leaving a tri-level terraced landscape typically found in quarries.  Huge natural rock formations were left exposed.
     Shortly following lumbermen passed thru the area like locusts, clear cutting and leaving the land completely stripped of it’s native long leaf pine trees.

     The road to the left leads up to the gift shop, parking area, and the seating
structure built to acomodate Mr Hodges and his guests during performances
at the amphitheater.

     Years later Mr Hodges, a very wealthy man who made his fortune tax free (because the government hadn't run amok yet), bought 100,000 acres of land as part of a reforestation movement that he was leading.  He planted seedlings on over 39,000 acres of that land.  It was the first step in converting that area to a managed tree farm.

Mr Hodges view, atop the hill, at the Amphitheater

     As Mr Hodges inspected his acquisition, he happened upon the stone quarry with its terraces and saw the potential for the magnificent garden that you can visit today.  He saw rocks that had been cut and left behind, gravel and general destruction, but among the rubble he noticed wild flowers blooming everywhere.  He and his wife, Nona, saw potential for a magnificent nature preserve and recreation area.  

An Actors view of Mr Hodges view of the Amphitheater

     Today, 4,700 acres are designated park land.  925 acres are actually known as Hodges Gardens including its 225 acre lake.   60 acres are dedicated to the intense maze of blooming flowers, fountains, trellises, a light house, water falls, overlooks, and more.   The surrounding area is still managed timber land and accessible to visitors who want to walk or bicycle thru the woods.

     There are flower beds on either side of the grassy accommodations for the
bourgeois.  In December 2007 approximately 600 rose bushed will be planted
here.  Can you imagine what spring and Summer will be like here?

     In 2007, provisions in the charter forced the trust, who was mis-managing the property, to turn what was the largest private preserve in the United States, over to the Louisiana Parks Department.  As I understand it, the Parks department was reluctant to accept it at first because of the enormous amount of upkeep it would require.  But once they realized what they had, it became apparent this Hodges Gardens would soon become the sparkling diamond in the crown of the amazing Louisiana State Park System.

     About half of the plants on display at Hodges Gardens were grown in greenhouses on the property from either cuttings or seeds.  Some flowers like tulips, hyacinths, & daffodils were imported to add variety for visitors.   

     Thanks to the Louisiana Parks Service, once again there will be an Easter Sunrise Service here, Shakespearean Plays, concerts, 4th of July Fireworks and more in this arena.  

     The Park Ranger kept apologizing for the lack of colour and beauty in the park.  The Trust, who had been responsible for maintaining this park in the recent past, had really let it deteriorate before the State Park Service took the reins.  Most of the flower beds were empty, but God can't be bridled and I pointed that out to my new host.  I would like to demonstrate what I enthusiastically pointed out to him, followed by an incredulous, "How can you not see the beauty that surrounds here rite here?!!!  How can you apologize for this?!!"  It was an overcast day with occasional drizzles.  While we talked, little drizzles passed over us twice.  Neither of us acknowledged the precipitation.  Snakes, snails and puppy dog tails don't melt, do they?

     One day soon this flowers will explode in the boxes along the railing.  The road pictured
had a "closed" sign on it.  Inadvertently, I re-approached the sign from the rear after over
an hour of exploration in the 60 acre gardens on the hills in the background.

     A close up of the Holly Berries visible in the distance above.

     The view around the bend was more beautiful than a picture can show.

     Further around the bend was Mr Hodges home, accessible only by water.  
the ranger said something about a wild ram on the island... can you see it
in the picture above?

     This lighthouse is visible from Mr Hodges living room,
a sign of a great gardener thru and thru.

     Across from the Light House there are all sorts of water ways that have
water flowing thru them when everything is working.  

     I love the bridges and the elevation in the background.  Imagine Spring
and flowers blooming all around...

     The water for the waterways are pumped from and return to the lake.

     Between the stairways is a water fall.  I could not find any other water
falls this day because, again the park had been poorly maintained.  Many
things were over grown and the growth covered a lot.  Since the pump
system was being maintained the falls were not working and there were
no audible clues as to where more falls might be.

     As I rode my bicycle thru the park it wasn't just the sights
that captured my imagination, but the sweet smell of flowers
blooming that I could not see or find.  The various fragrances
in the park were heavenly, a completely sensual experience!

     This is another perspective of the water falls and steps.  Notice some
of the rocks from the quarry on display behind the boxwoods.  

     Elevations and overlooks were a great part of this garden.  Any other
time of year, the trees and bushes would have all blended into a sea of
green but today there was a spectacular display of colour and contrast.

     This is the Famous Look Out Tower featured on all the Hodges Gardens
propaganda.  It overlooks the last ten features pictured.

      Why such a great amount of information about a park that doesn't
seem to be all about bicycles?  First, because I love to garden and to
see others gardens.  Then, I was so busy exploring the gardens that
I didn't have time to check out the Hike-N-Bike Trails.  Again, according
to the ranger, 4500 acres are open to the public in this park and at the
time of my visit there were no sanctions on bicycles.  In fact, I spent the
whole day on my bicycle.  Got my butt kicked on some of the hills too!
     Bring a bicycle, a camera, some water and a picnic lunch and enjoy
the day.  or -  I drove up Saturday after work and back on Sunday.  
     The folks at the Emerald Hills Gold Resort, located directly across
the road from my destination, offered large, clean, beautiful rooms for
a very reasonable rate.  Coffee at no charge was a nice perk, there is
a restaurant above the Pro Shop, with glass floor to ceiling, overlooking
the 1st and 18th hole.  The spectacular view made their breakfast and
lunches all the more enjoyable.

      Emerald Hills Golf Resort
      42618 Hwy 171 South
      Florien, LA  71429
      More Info::  Emerald Hills Resort

     Cart Path, hills, beauty

     1st Hole - See my bicycle in the lower left of the pic?

     18th Hole  (picture taken from the 19th hole perspective)

     Look at the red leaves on the tree outside my room!

                                                                                            Hansel Z Clydesdale