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Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area

Land Between The Lakes is a designated national recreation area under the management of the USDA Forest Service. LBL offers all the outdoor recreation "basics," with some unique opportunities for environmental education and historic interpretation.

Nestled in western Kentucky and Tennessee, LBL hosts an average of two million visitors each year who come from all over the nation and more than 30 foreign countries. With more than 170,000 acres and 300 miles of undeveloped shoreline, you'll discover a wide range of opportunities in LBL to create memories that will last a lifetime.

Know where you're going and what you're doing? Grab a downloadable map or Land Between The Lakes Brochure!


Recreational Activities


Western Kentucky Land Between The Lakes CampingCamping is one of the most popular activities at Land Between The Lakes, and no wonder: we offer something for every type of camper. Whether you prefer to pitch a tent along a secluded lake cove or are equipped with a modern RV set-up, LBL has the perfect place for you to sleep under the stars.

Hillman Ferry and Energy Lake campgrounds offer campsite reservations, while Wranglers and Piney campgrounds will offer campsite and camping shelter reservations. Only a portion of the campsites are available for reservation. There are also sites available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Campsites may be reserved 240 days in advance and camping shelters 360 days in advance. Reservations are available on-line at 24 hours a day. Reservations can also be made by calling 1-877-444-6777 or through TDD at 1-877-833-6777.

When making reservations, Hillman Ferry, Wranglers, and Energy Lake campgrounds are listed in Kentucky, while Piney Campground is listed in Tennessee.

You can view all of the rates and hours of operation for each campground and facility at LBL by following the link. Come explore all the ways to spend the night at LBL.


Western Kentucky Land Between The Lakes FishingDid you know Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley comprise one of the world's largest man-made bodies of water? Combined, they contain nearly 220,000 surface acres of water and a 1.75 mile long canal connects them at the northern end. This watery wonderland surrounds Land Between The Lakes on three sides. Plus, within LBL there are four fishable small lakes and numerous interior ponds. All this makes LBL one of the country's fishing hot spots!

We're a regional sport fishing center for crappie, bass, sauger, catfish, and bluegill. And with abundant camping -- several developed family campgrounds (with features like a fishing pier and a fish cleaning station), five informal camping areas, sixteen undeveloped lake access areas with boat ramps, and practically unlimited backcountry camping by the lakeshore, anglers can really make a week of it!

All applicable state fishing licenses are required.


Western Kentucky Land Between The Lakes HuntingRegulated hunting is an integral part of our wildlife management program at Land Between The Lakes. In the absence of large predators, hunting is used to maintain healthy populations of such species as white-tail deer.

With thousands of acres teeming with game and over 300 miles of undeveloped shoreline, LBL offers an impressive variety of hunting opportunities and more than 230 days a year of in-season hunting. Our white-tail deer and wild turkey populations are legendary, and other forest game species are also abundant.

LBL offers annual spring quota and non-quota hunts for turkeys and fall archery and quota gun hunts for deer. Hunters can also enjoy a variety of camping choices, from the comfort of our developed campgrounds to the rustic adventure of camping LBL's back-country.

Quota Hunt Application All hunters must have an LBL Hunter Use Permit and applicable state licenses. Need more information? Call 270-924-2065 for more detailed information or send an email requesting a Quota Hunt Application.


Western Kentucky Land Between The Lakes BikingReady to ride? LBL has many miles of old logging roads and scenic backroads perfect for mountain biking and cycling. On the north end of LBL there are two extensive mountain bike trails suitable for various skill levels.

CYCLING-Numerous paved roads meander through LBL. Start at The Trace and explore! Winding roads travel across rolling hillsides and alongside meadows; many lead into quiet lakefront bays.

When you visit LBL, pick up a road map at any Welcome Station!

MOUNTAIN BIKING-Land Between the Lakes offers some excellent and virtually undiscovered opportunities for mountain biking. Pick up a trail map at any Welcome Station.

CANAL LOOP TRAIL-The Canal Loop Trail is a 14.2 mile trail system that includes four connector trails to offer a variety of bike rides. The trail can be accessed from either the North Welcome Station Trailhead or the Kentucky Lake Drive Trail Access. The system provides options from 1.5 miles to 14.2-miles in distance and is popular because of the less strenuous terrain and scenic lake views. Rating: Easy to moderate; 120-foot change in elevation.

NORTH SOUTH TRAIL-The northern portion of the North/South Trail, a 31-mile section, is open to mountain biking and connects the North Welcome Station with the Golden Pond Visitors Center. The point-to-point trail traverses ridge tops, bottomlands, and the shores of Kentucky Lake. Visitors can use this trail in conjunction with LBL's legal roads to make a series of shorter loops. Other opportunities include connecting to the Canal Loop Trail for a total of 45 miles. Rating: Easy to advanced; single-track, logging roads, gravel roads.

HILLMAN FERRY CAMPGROUND AND PINEY CAMPGROUND TRAILS are available for use by campground patrons. They pass through scenic forests, beautiful lake vistas, and by old cemeteries.


Western Kentucky Land Between The Lakes Horseback RidingEmbark on a Horseback Adventure from LBL's Wranglers Campground! Over 70 miles of horse and wagon trails plus an extensive network of old roads lead to some of the most scenic spots at LBL. Our horse trail system is undergoing expansion, so check back for the latest updates!

Want to spend the night? At trail's end awaits Wranglers Campground, the Southeast's premier horse camp. Stalls, hitching posts, hot showers and more make it a comfortable night for both horse and rider!

Ready to ride?

Wranglers Campground and its network of horse trails are located in one of the most scenic spots at LBL. Bordering Lake Barkley and beautiful Fords Bay on the east, and nestled between Laura Furnace Creek and Lick Creek on the West, it's the only place at LBL designed for horseback riders and wagons.

Trails wind through rolling hills, forests filled with wildlife, and along the shores of Lake Barkley. Some of LBL's most unique historic sites are found along the trail. Ride to the ruins of Laura Furnace, once a major iron producer, silent now for over 100 years. Deer, wild turkey, majestic hawks, and a shoreline teeming with waterfowl are just a few of the pleasures you'll find along the trail!



• 6 Years Old & Up

•Open 7 Days a Week April through October

• Trail rides leave at 9, 10, 11, 1, 2, 3 & 4

Wranglers Riding Stable Rates:

• 45 Minute Ride: $18

•1 1/2 Hour Ride: $30

•1/2 Day Ride: $65 (Meal included)

•Full Day Ride: $90 (Meal included)

•Group Rates Available

• Accepts Cash, Check and Travelers Checks

FOR RESERVATIONS CALL 270-924-2211. Walk-ins Welcome!


Western Kentucky Land Between The Lakes Off Highway Vehicle AreaReady to ride? Explore the trails in Turkey Bay, Land Between The Lakes' designated off-highway vehicle area. Pitch a tent in the camping area and get a good night's rest under the stars. You'll need it the next day to ride the many miles of exciting trails.

Turkey Bay has approximately 100 miles of OHV trails which cover a variety of terrain, offering something for every skill level. Flat meadows, rolling hills, and rocky plateaus await the adventuresome!

The ridge tops and valleys provide beautiful vistas with challenging terrain.

Before you come, please check our Trails Update ( page or call 270-924-2000 for updated trail closure information.


Western Kentucky Land Between The Lakes HikingMore than 200 miles of trails and abandoned roads meander through Land Between The Lakes backwoods, fields and alongside peaceful lakeshores. Catch a glimpse of native wildlife. Walk in the footsteps of General Grant. Sleep under the stars...

NORTH/SOUTH TRAIL: Take the grand tour! This trail spans the entire length of LBL and ranges from rugged, hilly terrain in the north to more smooth hiking in the south. Portions are accessible from The Trace for those wishing to hike a section of the trail. Length: 65 miles. Rating: Moderate to strenuous. 200-foot elevation change.

FORT HENRY NATIONAL RECREATION TRAIL: Located in the south end of LBL, Fort Henry is a system of 10 connecting trails totaling 26 miles. The trail follows closely the route of General Grant's troop movements from Fort Henry to Fort Donelson during the Civil War. Length: 26 miles. Rating: Moderate. 100-foot elevation change.

In the north end, this series of connecting trails provides walks ranging from 1.5 miles to 14 miles. One of the most popular trails, because it offers spectacular lake views and the opportunity for short walks. Length: 14 miles. Rating: Easy to Moderate. 80-foot elevation change.



Western Kentucky Land Between The Lakes Elk and Bison PrarieRESTORING THE LAND...Welcome to the Elk & Bison Prairie, a very special place at Land Between The Lakes. Here, a native habitat lost more than a century ago is being carefully restored. We invite you to experience the process of habitat renewal as it's in progress. Come explore. Listen. Learn.

TO VISIT: The Elk & Bison Prairie is located north of the Golden Pond Visitor Center off The Trace.

HOURS: Dawn to dusk, 365 days a year


Western Kentucky Land Between The Lakes Golden Pond PlanetariumWelcome to the Golden Pond Planetarium and Observatory! Explore such phenomena as white dwarves and black holes, all unveiled on our planetarium's 40-foot dome. Novice astronomers can learn to identify the constellations on a simulated night sky. Or head to the Golden Pond Observatory, where you can observe the stars through one of our four telescopes or spy solar flares through our Hydrogen-Alpha refractor.

TO VISIT: Located inside the Golden Pond Visitor Center. The Observatory is located just behind the Planetarium. The Visitor Center is located in the center of LBL, where The Trace and US 68/80 meet.

SEASON: March 1 to mid-December


Western Kentucky Land Between The Lakes Woodlands Nature StationWelcome to the Woodlands Nature Station, your gateway to encounters with the natural world. Our educators are here to guide you through the real web -- the web of life, which connects humans to nature and the environment. You'll find a variety of natural experiences -- from our indoor discovery center to the live wildlife of our Backyard exhibits. Numerous trails embark from our center, too. Experience the outdoors at your leisure, or join one of our guided hiking or canoe excursions. Trips embark from the Nature Station throughout the spring, summer and fall.

TO VISIT: Located north of the Golden Pond Visitor Center. Travel north on The Trace about 8 miles, turn on Mulberry Flat Road and travel another 5 miles. If coming from the north, travel south on The Trace about 7.5 miles to Silver Trail Road.

SEASON: March 1 - November 30


Western Kentucky Land Between The Lakes HomeplaceYou're about to enter a rural farm "Between the Rivers," much as it would have appeared in the mid-19th century. Take a leisurely stroll through our grounds and farm buildings, and visit with our interpreters...

TO VISIT: Located in the Tennessee portion of LBL. From the Golden Pond Visitor Center travel south on The Trace about 12 miles.

SEASON: March 1 - November 30

Environmental Education

Western Kentucky Land Between The Lakes Environmental EducationStep out of the classroom and into the world of "Explore and Learn" as you experience the environment through hands-on excitement at Land Between The Lakes (LBL). LBL offers many exciting, educational and hands-on opportunities for groups of all sizes.

Learn about wildlife in our 700-acre Elk & Bison Prairie, take one of our many hiking trails for other wildlife viewing opportunities, or participate in hands-on nature programs at Woodlands Nature Station. Experience history up-close when you visit The Homeplace living history farm and see how people utilized the environment in the 1800s, or see the bigger picture at the Golden Pond Planetarium by viewing spectacular shows of space and the night sky on a 40-foot diameter dome (for more in-depth details of these main facilities, visit the "Attractions" section of our web site). For a longer more in-depth experience, your group can stay overnight at Brandon Spring Group Center.

Work with our staff to develop "Explore and Learn" activities or design your own activities using our many amenities. Whatever your outdoor educational needs may be, you're sure to find what you're looking for at LBL to fulfill your Environmental Education objectives.

Civil War

Western Kentucky Land Between The Lakes Civil War HistoryIn the War Between the States, the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers were a gateway to Nashville and the all-important railroads which fed the Confederacy its troops and supplies. Tennessee sided with the Confederacy but Kentucky remained neutral until an 1861 invasion. Little wonder, then, that the "Between the Rivers" region was a strategic area.

Recognizing this, in 1861 Governor Harris of Tennessee authorized construction of two forts to protect the rivers: Fort Henry, on the east bank of the Tennessee River, and Fort Donelson, on the west bank of Cumberland, both near the south end of LBL.

These forts were critical to the defense of the region. Their fall would open all of Middle Tennessee to attack, and would force Confederate troops in Bowling Green and Columbus to fall back to avoid being encircled. This would break the Confederacy's western line of defense, and force the Confederate army to withdraw into north Alabama and Mississippi.

By September 1861 the Union army had amassed a considerable naval force in Paducah, along the Ohio River at the north end of LBL. On February 2, 1862, the Union troops made their move. A flotilla of four ironclads and three wooden gunboats, led by Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote and carrying Brigadier Generals John A. McClernand and Ulysses S. Grant descended on Fort Henry, launching the "Twin Rivers Campaign." After a battle lasting four days, Brigadier General Lloyd Tillghman surrendered Fort Henry. Five days later, the Union forces started their descent on Fort Donelson.

Download and enjoy our 64 page travel guide to everything in Western Kentucky. You'll find all area attractions, lodging, camping, fishing and hunting information, golf and so much more. You can view online or we will be happy to mail you one.
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