Kisatchie Wold

By: Howard N. Martin

Type: General Entry

Published: February 1, 1995

The Kisatchie Wold, Kisatchie Cuesta, or Kisatchie Escarpment was formerly a continuous ridge from the Mississippi River floodplain to the Rio Grande valley, but erosion has reduced the solid ridge to a clearly marked line of hills. In Louisiana this ridge runs through the Kisatchie National Forest. In Texas the Kisatchie Wold is one of four well-developed cuesta uplands roughly parallel to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The cuesta (synonymous with wold) is an asymmetrical ridge with a long gentle slope on one side and a steep cliff on the other. The Kisatchie Wold slopes gently seaward and drops off sharply on the landward side. It was formed at the contact of the Catahoula sandstone with the underlying sands and shales of the Jackson Group. In Texas the highest points of this line occur in northern Newton, Jasper, Tyler, Polk, Trinity, and Walker counties. In places these hills attain a height of 400 to 450 feet above sea level. The Kisatchie Wold exerts an important influence on the streams in the Gulf Coastal Plain. All of the rivers that cross it have been deflected and forced to flow eastward along its northern edge for considerable distances. Examples of this eastward deflection are the Trinity River along the northern boundaries of Walker and San Jacinto counties and the Neches River along the northern boundaries of Polk and Tyler counties.

During the latter part of the eighteenth century Coushatta Indians discovered the Kisatchie Wold in traveling from their village on the Sabine River to Nacogdoches to trade and obtain supplies from the Spanish government. They established a trail westward along the wold for hunting and trading expeditions and to contact Spanish officials in San Antonio de Béxar and La Bahía. This trail was named the Coushatta Trace by settlers in Stephen F. Austin's colony in the Brazos River area.

Wallace W. Atwood, The Physiographic Provinces of North America (Boston: Ginn, 1940). Nevin M. Fenneman, Physiography of the Eastern United States (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1938). W. L. Fisher, Rock and Mineral Resources of East Texas (Report of Investigations 54 [Austin: Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas, June 1965]). Robert H. Mohlenbrock, "This Land: Kisatchie Hills, Louisiana," Natural History, February 1989.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Howard N. Martin, “Kisatchie Wold,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 27, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995