It was a long week at work and all I wanted to do was get away and into the woods. Called my friend and we picked a location in between both of us.
Hillman Ferry Campground in Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area was the perfect place. After some quick texts on who would be bringing what I set out for Hillman Ferry. I arrived and picked a great site located in Loop A right on the water, with a beautiful view of the bay that leads right out to the lake. Sitting next to the beach, just down the road from a boat ramp and equal distance between the bathrooms and the shower houses A62 was the perfect campsite.
As I wait for my friend I take some time to get my brand new Coleman tent out and ready to be set up, quickly realizing that I might need another hand to get it done. With some time to kill I get my camera out in hopes of getting some great photos. Visitors are out and enjoying the beautiful weather fishing, walking and riding their bikes. My camp chair beckons and I just sit and enjoy the cool breeze reminding myself it is ok to relax and take in the beauty around me.
Once my friend arrives we get the tent set up and a campfire started, realizing that we are on borrowed time because the weather forecast called for 100% chance of rain. What better to have when camping but hotdogs with sauerkraut and s’mores for dessert? Shortly after we had dinner it became apparent that we might as well get ready for bed because the rain was here. Its 3am, the wind is blowing, thunder is crashing and the lightening is keeping everything well lit. Visions of the Land of Oz are in my head as we both
wake up and it turns out that my tent poles are hitting me in the head from the wind.
On the up side, the tent held up like a dream, and when we get up in the morning we can smell the rain in the air and hear the water hitting the shoreline. A heron is hanging out across the water
on the boat dock. We decide that even though it is still raining on and off we should put up our hammocks, we crawl into one of them and eat our breakfast while enjoying the view of the lake. Some of my friends, resident attendants at Hillman Ferry, come by to say hi and make sure we made it through the night. Then the coolest thing happened and my camera and phone are nowhere to be found. An osprey came down into the bay with a splash, coming back up with a fish. It circles a couple times in the air. Amazing right? Then from the right, in comes a Bald Eagle and just tackles the osprey, knocking the fish back into the water and chasing the osprey around for a while before landing back up in a tree. We never saw it coming, never even noticed the Eagle watching. Such an amazing site, nature at its finest! Something that will be ingrained in my memories from this trip.
Like any good camper at Hillman Ferry we have to make a trip up to the outpost to get my touristy stuff that I like, plus some ice cream. When we get in there I find out that you can also rent bikes and some camping items. The outpost also has the bare necessities for your camping trip, including s’more stuff. They have a new bike station where you can air up your bike’s tires and take a ride around the paved path.
We were given the opportunity to ride around the campground in a golf cart. Many folks personalize their carts with lights and other fun decorations.
It also allowed us to get a view of all the campsites and see the new bath houses that are being put in. If you want to get out and stretch your legs there is also a great little trail to hike called the Hillman Heritage Trail.
As night comes around, we start a fire and enjoy the evening with stories, and bacon and egg sandwiches. Wildlife is all around including little toads and a heron walking along the shoreline. It was a beautiful day, but we both know that tomorrow we have to head back to reality. A weekend full of friends, fun and memories that I will keep always and anticipation for the next trip to Hillman Ferry Campground.
Watch for more great adventures at Land Between the Lakes!
Article and Photos by Emily Cleaver