By: Charli Stanley
If you’re looking for a reason to get out of the house on a beautiful day, look no further than Wolf Rock Cave. Only a short drive from Fort Polk’s south entrance lies the only known cave in the entire state. This Louisiana wonder makes for a great opportunity to learn more about the history of the area while soaking in some of that famously warm, southern air.
Just a short hike from the parking area, through the trees, you can see two rock overhangs jutting out the side of a hill, overlooking Bundick’s Creek. Between the two overhangs is a distinct crevice that runs the length of the hill, a result of hundreds of years of erosion.
Local lore claims the cave was discovered by some boys fishing on Bundick’s creek. They heard a faint whimpering coming from the darkness. Upon further inspection, they discovered a litter of wolf puppies, and so was born the name “Wolf Rock Cave.”
Evidence indicates that this cave was once used as a rock shelter during the Late Archaic period. Early inhabitants are believed to have used the nearby resources of the area to make tools necessary for survival, while also seeking refuge within the walls of the cave. This brochure, created by the U.S. Forest Service, can provide more information on the kinds of tools that were essential to these early Archaic Indians.
A little more recently, during the 1950’s and 60’s, the cave was frequently used as a camping spot for local hunters and fishers. On quiet nights, it was used as a hangout for the local teens until it became part of the Forest Service’s jurisdiction when it was determined within the boundaries of Kisatchie National Forest in the late 70’s. It is said that until this point, the cave led to two large rooms in the very back end, but it was deemed too dangerous for tourists to travel that far into the cave, so the rooms were sealed off by a controlled explosion.
It hasn’t always had the title of being the only cave in the state though. Before 1942, there was Murrell’s Cave. This network of caves is believed to have been used by the outlaw John Murrell as a hideout. His stolen goods, such as gold and silver, were much sought-after by treasure hunters and curious explorers, so the caves were closed off to prevent people from getting lost within the walls of the cave. Today, not much remains of the bandit’s trusty hideout, and the land it once sat within is now privately posted.
Wolf Rock Cave is still open to explore inside if you don’t mind crouching down to crawl through the damp, muddy bottom. There are also trails atop the overhangs to explore, but beware, the terrain is a bit rough, so bring your hiking shoes and make sure you have good footing before you take that first step.
Maybe if you’re lucky, you might even stumble across an old arrowhead, I hear the area is practically littered with them. As tempting as taking a souvenir may seem, please refrain from doing so, and remember to only leave footprints to preserve the area’s authenticity for future explorers to enjoy.