The 171,280 acres that make up the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area result from two dams on two rivers. The Tennessee River and the Cumberland River flow within 1 to 9 miles of each other in this region. A canal closes one end of the area, making it the largest land-locked peninsula in the United States. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy declared it a National Recreation Area. In 1971, the peninsula became a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve where the intent was to measure humans' impact on nature. Located near Murray, KY, the area is easily reached from urban locations like Clarksville and Nashville, TN, from which many visitors travel to enjoy the area's pristine environment.
Several trails are located near the Woodlands Nature Center, demonstrating how close visitors get to nature when visiting the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. The first is the Hematite Lake Trail that encircles 80-acre Hematite Lake. The diverse displays of woodland flowers alone are enough to recommend this trail.
Length: 2.2 miles
Intensity: Easy to Intermediate
The second recommended trail located near the Woodlands Nature Center is the Honker Trail. This pathway circles 180-acre Honker Lake, an artificial shallow lake created by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s for wildfowl management. Several species, such as beaver, otters, osprey, and giant Canadian geese, were reintroduced to the area and flourished.
Length: 4.5 miles
Intensity: Easy to Intermediate
A third trail near the Woodlands Nature Center is the Long Creek National Recreation Trail. The pathway is wide, paved, and approved for ADA use. The path winds amongst sycamore, sweetgum, and oak stands where beaver, green herons, and kingfishers thrive.
Length: 0.25 miles
For avid hikers and bikers who wish to spend a day or more hiking the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, the Fort Henry National Recreation Trail is a dream come true. This is a system of 10 connecting trails covering the entirety of the recreation area's southern end. The trail closely follows the troop movements of General Grant during the Fort Henry/Fort Donelson campaign early in the Civil War.
Length: 26 miles
The North South Trail takes hikers the entire length of the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. The pathway takes hikers along lazy valleys covered in prairie grass, through crowded forests, and across ridges that present challenging terrain. This trail is recommended for avid hikers, with the southern end restricted to hiking only.
Length: 59 miles
The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is one of the premier places for studying nature, natural habitats, and humans' relationship with the natural world. Students travel there to get involved with the environment. Schools in the area often take field trips to one part of this recreational area or another.
With over 300 miles of natural shoreline, this recreational area provides some of the country's best angling opportunities. Typically, anglers come to this area to fish for bluegill, sauger, catfish, crappie, and bass. Whether you are into lake fishing along the banks, in a boat, or angling along the many streams and small lakes that dot the recreation area, there is an opportunity for you to get the fight of your life in these waters.
Geocaching is one of the favorite sports in which visitors engage at the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. The Forest Service maintains over 450 geocache sites for visitors to pursue. Ask at any official site inside the park for information for GPS coordinates and start your quest.
Stargazing at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is one of the main reasons visitors come as little light pollution obscures the night sky. A planetarium augments what you see in the night sky with laser programs describing what you see when you look up on a clear night.
Address: 100 Van Morgan Drive, Golden Pond, KY 42211
Fee: Entry fee $0
The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area provides a variety of experiences for a family on vacation. Whether the plan is to hike or fish or to sit and soak in nature, this is the place to visit. Renting an RV to explore the entirety of the 176,000 acres that make up this recreation area allows you to experience all of it.