When you think of Kentucky most think of Bourbon, the Kentucky Derby and Mammoth Cave National Park. The Appalachian Trail runs through the eastern park of of the state, but what about the west? After a brief stop in Louisville, we somehow ended up in a completely random place, a place that I had never heard of. Situated in both Kentucky and Tennessee, Land Between The Lakes is a US National Recreation Area. Beautiful land with camping, boating and fishing. It sits between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. While it’s mostly known for fishing and boating, we were more interested in hiking.
So what kind of hiking did we find in this area? Land Between The Lakes actually had a handful of hikes to choose from. The hiking here is relatively flat and easy to moderate hikes. We decided to hike Honker Trail and Hematite Trail. Their views of the lake and close proximity to the water were the reasons we chose them.
Hike 9/52 in our challenge!
Getting to Honker Trail
Find your way to the Woodlands Nature Station. There is plenty of free parking and a restroom facilities. You do not need to check it or get a permit, but you can pop your head in to get a small map of the area.
If you are interested they do have a short educational walk and museum for a small fee.
Address: 3146 Silver Trail Rd, Cadiz, KY 42211
Hiking Honker Trail
If you are looking at the Nature Station the trail head is on your right. This 4.5 mile looped trail is very easy with little to no elevation change. We were there early in the year so there were a couple washed out areas and puddles. It was still worth checking out, especially since it’s dog friendly!
The hike starts through the woods, shaded from the sun. Then you reach Honker Dam, which divides Honker Lake and Lake Barkley. A lot of people come to this area to fish and we saw why. There were so many places to set up for the day, parking and we saw multiple fish.
Back to the woods and this fun path! We love being able to be with Summit and Ramey every day. Because of this lifestyle they are more active as well. We can appreciate when a park does not allow dogs, but we sure do love it when they do! They love hiking and being outdoors as much as we do.
Don’t forget to stop and take in the views. The lakes are beautiful!
After this section we were blown away by the yellow flowers lining the lake. The colors were so bold. As you can see there is plenty of water spots for the dogs. Ramey loves playing in it. Summit, not so much!
The trail ends right at the Nature Station on the other side of the parking lot. So you do have the option of going either way. We were lucky to have this beautiful of a day. The others were cloudy with the Spring rain.
After the 4.5 miles the dogs still seemed like they were wanting to be out so we decided to check out one more.
Hiking Hematite Trail
There are signs letting you know how to get to Hematite Trail from Honker Trail. A 2 minute drive to a small parking lot with a vault toilet and picnic tables.
The small wash out areas on Honker Trail were easy to maneuver, but part of Hematite trail was completely washed out and inaccessible. The only good thing about that was that it was at the opposite end of the trail head. So we still could get in a couple miles. Make sure to stop by or call the Nature Station if you are there in the early Spring. The full loop is still only 2.2 miles and considered a very easy, leisurely hike.
It starts off with a fun walkway to the trail. Summit and I opted for the walkway, Ramey had no interest and made his own path!
The trail starts away from the trees, but then the rest of it is shaded. A small bridge and a hike looking out on the lake, it was the perfect finish to the 6.5 mile day.
The only real negative to both of these hikes was the amount of spider webs that you walk through and since it was early in the year, the trail was wet. Other than that, it was beautiful and would be a great trail run.
Other Hikes in Land Between The Lakes
Here is a list of all the trails offered in this area: Hiking Trails LBL
Elk & Bison Prairie
If you are looking for something else to do in the area, check out the Elk and Bison Prairie. It’s a 700-acre enclosed area that is home to Elk and Bison, but it’s also home to turkeys and other small wildlife. It’s $5/car (bring cash) and you can be in there as long as you want until they close at dusk. We didn’t see any bison, but we did see plenty of elk and a turkey who was showing off!
There are rules about when you can get out of your car and how far away you can be. Check out this website for more information: Elk & Bison Prairie Information
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