Mary Brown Preserve
Louisiana Mary Brown Preserve © TNC

Places We Protect

Mary Ann Brown Preserve


Located near Oakley Plantation where John James Audubon painted some of his famous bird paintings.

What makes this preserve unique?

This area supports a quality mixed pine-hardwood forest on the fringes of the Tunica Hills.  There is an interesting mix of native hardwoods with loblolly and shortleaf pines.  This site was donated to TNC by the late Mr.  & Mrs. L. Heidel Brown in memory of their daughter, Mary Ann.

Why TNC Selected This Site

The Nature Conservancy selected this site for its mature stand of hardwood forest, dominated by beech and southern magnolia.

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing

The Nature Conservancy of Louisiana has developed this site into one of our more accessible preserves because of its scenic beauty and relatively low sensitivity to public use. Mature beech-magnolia-holly forest, unusual topography, and high plant and animal species richness, make this preserve especially inviting to visitors. Stewardship activities have focused on trail construction, restoration of old fields back to diverse native forest, and control of non-native weeds.  

Steep slopes and a permanent stream are distinctive features on the property.  The combination of sweet loess (wind deposited) soil and the microclimate created by the deep ravines provides an environment with unique plant and animal life.  This uniqueness is demonstrated by the large diversity of woody plants found in the preserve.  In addition, the preserve affords an excellent opportunity for bird watching and the region is the only place in Louisiana to see chipmunks, which are highly visible during the warmer months.

Mary Ann Brown Preserve supports a mature stand of beech-magnolia forest. Several streams cross the property and are bounded by centuries-old beech and magnolia.  The combination of sweet loess soil and the microclimate created by the deep ravines provides an environment with unique plant and animal life.  This uniqueness is demonstrated by the large diversity of woody plants found in the preserve.  In addition, the preserve affords an excellent opportunity for bird watching.

A well-maintained trail/boardwalk system, approximately 2 miles in length, provides visitors with ready access to the preserve.  There are no public restrooms on the preserve, so plan accordingly.  The Main Loop Trail (1.3 miles) begins at the Trailhead near the front entrance gate, continues over numerous foot bridges through the preserve, past the pavilion, around the pond and returns hikers to the front gate entrance.  Hikers may add 0.7 miles to their hike by taking the Outer Loop, a spur trail off the Mail Loop.   If you are new to the preserve, please take a trail map, which are available at the information kiosk near the front entrance.  Please help us protect the preserve by keeping to the established walking trails.  Bicycles are not allowed on the walking trail.

The trail system is open to the public daily during daylight hours only.  Access is through a pedestrian passageway in the split rail fence at the front parking area.  The preserve features a covered pavilion and pond house, which are available for day outings.  Overnight primitive camping and the other preserve amenities are available to scout and school groups by reservation only.  Please call our office in Baton Rouge at (225) 338-1040 for more information or to make a reservation.  A refundable deposit is required and service projects coordinated through our office are much appreciated.

Please review the following visitation guidelines:

  • This is a natural area, so be aware of the hazards which exist throughout the preserve. These include poisonous snakes, ticks, chiggers, stinging insects, holes, roots, stumps, fallen and low branches, poison ivy, and other hazards.
  • Park in designated parking areas only.
  • Visitors must remain on designated trails at all times. No plants or animals may be disturbed (except fish from the pond).
  • Fishing is permitted, but all fish larger than 6” (six inches) total length must be returned to the pond.
  • No swimming allowed.
  • No pets allowed. (Except for seeing eye dogs).
  • Paper products, cleaning supplies, brooms, mops, and shovel in the maintenance room (between bathrooms) may be used judiciously but visitors are not to use ladders and construction tools, other than the shovel provided for coal disposal.
  • Smoking is only permitted at the pavilion. Cigarette butts must be fully extinguished and disposed of properly.
  • Camping is only permitted in vicinity of fire ring or in mowed grass around pavilion and pond; no “back country” camping.
  • No campfires except within the single, designated fire ring.
  • Front gate is to be kept closed, but not necessarily locked, to discourage unauthorized vehicle entry.
  • No telephones are available on-site. The nearest emergency telephone is located at Audubon State Commemorative Area, which is approximately 1.5 miles west on LA 965.
  • A “leave it cleaner than you found it” policy is in effect. Groups will be held accountable for the condition of the facility when they leave. Additional charges may be assessed for damage or trash left behind.
  • To reduce potential problems with wild animals, all garbage cans, except wastebaskets in the bathrooms, must be emptied and the garbage hauled away upon leaving (by the visitors renting the facilities).
  • In order to keep bug/pest problems under control, kitchen sinks and counter tops must be thoroughly cleaned after use and the bathroom and kitchen floors swept.

 Campfire Rules

  • Adult Supervision required at all times.
  • Keep all fires inside designated fire ring; absolutely no fires elsewhere on the preserve.
  • Never leave fire unattended.
  • Do not cut standing timber (alive or dead).
  • Do not disturb new or weathered fence and construction lumber regardless of location on the preserve.
  • Drown all fires when unattended.
  • Once coals have cooled, place coals and unburned wood in 55-gallon drum provided in the campfire area.