Bill plotted the route to our first adventure to the midwest (southern Illinois), to visit his mom, brother and sister-in-law. He decided our return route to Virginia would be via Kentucky. On the way to Southern Illinois, from Alabama (click here to read our last post), we sampled Western Kentucky in the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Park.
According to this website, “Land Between The Lakes (LBL) is a 170,000-acre national recreation area in Western Kentucky and Tennessee located near I-24, about 90 miles north of Nashville, TN, and just south of Paducah, KY….LBL is an inland peninsula formed when the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers were impounded, creating Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley — one of the world’s largest man-made bodies of water. In 1959, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction of Barkley Dam on the Cumberland River, many recognized the recreational and environmental education benefits of what would soon become Land Between the Lakes, a near-island between two man-made lakes….In 1963, President John F. Kennedy created Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area.”
The initial plan was to be here for five days. We’d hoped we’d get in a lot of great hikes and history lessons. Until we arrived, we realized we hadn’t “dug” deep enough to learn more about this unique area. And we may be learning, in National Parks there may be limited cell towers to use our cell phone and our new MIFI. How sad to now read the history of this area as I write this, to not fully understand it while there. More on it later in this post.
The journey here was quite an adventure. Ok, the actual drive was fantastic as Bill now feels confident in how Tiffany responds to challenging roads. But…..well, first, here’s a slide show to demonstrate the good:
The problem came once we got over the bridge onto the LBL peninsula. While I thought I programmed the correct “address” to the campground in our GPS, it wasn’t correct. For some reason, we haven’t been able to get GPS coordinates to work in our GPS so we now know we have to figure that out! Anyway, once we got over the bridge and construction, we drove between 10 and 15 miles across to the other end of the peninsula, where there was more construction. And we didn’t see but one sign, to the Visitor’s Center. Bill wanted turn there, but it was not visible from the road so we couldn’t tell if it would accommodate our 40′ home while towing our car. Certainly we’d see other signs
we I thought. NOPE. Not one sign. So we took the last road before exiting the peninsula and had to make a decision after driving up it a 1/4 mile or so. We called the phone number listed and more or less were told to just go back to the Visitor’s Center and look for the signs there.
We drove the 10-15 miles back to the Visitor’s Center. The road this time took us to an under pass and there were ALL the signs we were looking for. UNDER the road we PASSED over. So maybe this is a minor glitch, or was it a hint of what was to come?
So minor details to finding our way around. We only lost about an hour of our precious time to enjoy this fabulous park! We discovered this National Recreation Park and campground in another blogger’s post, Wheelin’ It. Here is where they reviewed the Hillman Ferry Campground and made this sound like a place we had to see! But we quickly learned we made a mistake by not trying to park where they were (section C) with only water and electricity. We really like the full hook ups (section T) since it was such an ordeal to get our washer and dryer! At their compound site, both their AT & T and Verizon phones worked. So as it turned out, we were deep in the center of the campground, where we had full hook ups (added sewer), but there was no cell tower service! Initially, we tried to get into their section, but the sites big enough for us were already reserved. The good news was we could use our phone when we were on the little beaches and in parts of our hikes. Lesson learned, we hope!
Let’s cut to the chase! Other than these minor inconveniences, we did find the park very serene and lush as you can tell by the picture of our site. We were ready to get out and hike. But since we discovered we couldn’t use our All Trails app to find a place to hike, Bill drove up to the Northern Visitor Center which was only a few miles from us as opposed to the main center. He came back with maps. It was getting too late to try to do much hiking, so I just took a short walk up to the Ranger’s station to see if my phone would work and check out one hiking area. The signal was weak but at least we now had an ambitious hike planned for day 2.
North-South Trail: Described as a 31 mile point to point trail, rated as moderate. Of course, we only did a small portion of it, 7.95 miles in a loop. It did have some challenging spots, lots of switch backs as we ascended some hills, but was relatively easy for us. But in the heat, it did take its toll….
We really enjoyed the hike but wanted to research the Nickell family. Due to the inability to use our computer or phone, we had to wait until we left. And now we know, had we visited the Homeplace (see below), we would have learned first hand about the family history.
The next day, we decided we needed to take a shorter hike. I had met a family when we were checking in that recommended this route so we took them up on it. Another great walk in the woods. We can’t count it as a hike as we didn’t need our poles, but at over a 4 mile walk, it was a good workout in the humidity! And there was a storm brewing – I checked the weather app while on the “beach.”
We knew we were once again on hallowed ground. We really wondered about the children and grandchildren of those in these cemeteries. Do they come pay their respects? This was a very small cemetery with only about six buried here that we could tell.
We pretty much decided we wouldn’t be able explore any of the other great “things to do” since our time was slipping away. You can read more about things to do here from the website:
The Nature Station @ GPS Coordinates: N 36 54′ 03.7” W 88 02′ 21.5” A hands on encounter with the natural world right in our backyard! The Nature Station is located in the woods between Honker and Hematite Lakes. It is home to many animals such as: great horned owls, coyotes, the exclusive red wolf, and many more. The station offers guided tours throughout the day. Many activities are offered for both adults and children such as: hiking, canoeing, seminars, wildlife gardening, nature photography and more.
Elk & Bison Prairie @ GPS Coordinates: N 36 47′ 23.16” W 88 03′ 13.0” The Elk and Bison Prairie is a 700-acre restoration of Kentucky’s native habitat. It was created as a restoration project for the species. A gentle winding road will guide you through this remarkable habitat restoration effort. Be sure to watch for elk and bison, and listen for the magnificent bugling of the elk.
OPEN ALL YEAR DAWN TILL DUSK Call for more info: 1-270-924-2000 or 1-800-LBL-7077
Golden Pond Planetarium @ GPS Coordinates: N 36 46′ 41.13” W 88 03′ 45.2” The Golden Pond Planetarium (located inside the Golden Pond Visitor Center), operated by the Land Between The Lakes Association, brings to life the fascinating world of outer space and modern space exploration….The Planetarium offers three different shows: Images of the Infinite, The Voyager Encounters, and Kentucky Skies, each is shown at various times daily throughout the March-December operating season.
SEASON: March 1 to mid-December. The Golden Pond Planetarium is closed November 22-30 to prepare for the Christmas Show which opens on December 1st.
For more information call : 1-800-455-5897
The Homeplace @ GPS Coordinates: N 36 39′ 17.4” W 87 58′ 32.9” History comes alive at The Homeplace – 1850, a working 19th century farm. Each day interpreters in period clothing demonstrate the daily chores and activities of the period. The events and festivals highlight the spirit and times of this era throughout the season. Some examples include, sheep shearing in the spring, music making on a summer’s night, or bringing in the harvest in the fall. The farm contains 16 log structures, 14 of them original. Most of the crops and livestock are historic varieties from the mid-19th century, grown and harvested using period tools and techniques.
SEASON: Mar. 1-Nov. 30 DAYS: Daily, Apr. 1-Oct. 31. Open daily in March from 9am to 5pm Mon. – Sat. and 10am to 5pm Sun. Closed Mon. & Tues. in Nov.
HOURS: 9 a.m.-5 pm. Mon. thru Sat., 10 a.m.- 5 pm. Sun.. Last ticket sold at 4 p.m.
Woodlands Nature Station in LBL Eagle Tours
Few things equal the beauty of bald eagles in the wild! Winter is the peak season for catching a glimpse of bald eagles in LBL. We’ll search the winter sky and lakeshore for a look at our national symbol during this staff-led van tour to eagle viewing “hot-spots.”
Dress for the weather. Moderate walking required. Registration is limited. Reservations and full deposits required.
For registration information, call weekdays, 8 am-4:30 pm, 270-924-2020.
We really wanted to stay here a week, but due to other circumstances, could only manage a short stay. After we left, we said we probably won’t be able to return. How sad as this place was amazing and now that we have read the history, we are sorry we didn’t have access to the web to do this research while there. Click here for The History & Heartbreak of Between The Rivers, by David Nickells. It is both fascinating and sad. We are so glad we treated the area with respect as we wondered about their history. In essence, after the Revolutionary War, veterans were given plats of land as payment for their services. Because the only access to the peninsula at the time was by ferry, a unique community was developed and lasted for six generations. And as you guessed, eminent domain took over and more than 800 families were forcibly removed. It was not easy to leave their family cemeteries behind….
“Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’….” Joshua 4:6