Trails are open year-round: come outside to play and experience the changing seasons!
Over 500 miles of trails and 200 miles of scenic roads lead to some of the most wonderful spots at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. Native wildlife, plants and wildflowers thrive in our woods, fields, and lake shores. Our trail system is extensive, offering a variety of excursion possibilities.
Water is not available on trails. There are a few seasonal springs. You must carry water and/or bring a filter to use when you find water (lake shore). Water is available at Golden Pond Visitor Center and dump stations in Land Between the Lakes.
Canal Loop Trail Map-2015 | Bike/Hike
In the north end, this 11-mile loop has 3 connectors providing trails from 1.5 miles to 11 miles. One of our most popular trails, it offers spectacular lake views and the opportunity for short walks.
Central Hardwoods Scenic Trail Map-2015 | Bike/Hike
We designed this family-friendly trail with smooth surfaces, gentle grades, and trailside rest areas. It runs parallel with US68/KY80 highways. The paved 2.5 miles on the eastern portion provides shoreline views of Lake Barkley and wildlife viewing opportunities in open areas. The 8.5 miles of the central and western portions use a compacted stone surface. Explore rolling hills and ridge tops of a central hardwood forest ecosystem.
Fort Henry Trail Map-2017 | FS Rd #230 | Bike/Hike
Located in the south end of Land Between the Lakes, The Fort Henry Trail System connects 9 trails totaling 26 miles. These trails follow the route of General Grant’s troop movements from Fort Henry to Fort Donelson during the Civil War.
Hillman Heritage National Recreation Trail Map-2015 at Hillman Ferry Campground | Bike/Hike
Check-in and register at Hillman Ferry Gatehouse
The 5.47 miles of trails within the Hillman Ferry Campground woods are listed as a Heritage National Recreation Trail for hiking and biking only. These trails follow old historic roads used by the former Star Lime Works community disbanded after 1945 due to construction of the Kentucky Lake Reservoir.
The trails are open to Hillman campers, as well as the general public, for hiking and biking. There is a small parking lot on the north (right) side of the Hillman Ferry Campground entrance road, just before the gatehouse, for the general public
Woodlands Nature Watch Trails | Hiking Only
Hematite Trail | FS Rd #134
Encircling 80-acre Hematite Lake, this 2.2 mile loop trail is known for its high diversity of birds, reptiles, amphibians, and woodland wildflowers. The landscape is marked with scars of the iron industry. This forest patch hosts the closest to “old growth” forest in Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.
This trail also features a ¼ mile long wetland boardwalk. Canebrake and willow border the boardwalk which allows the visitor to peer into a beaver marsh without a muddy foot or scraped knee. Look for spring cress in April, jewelweed and purple fringeless orchids in July, and the cardinal flower in September.
Long Creek Paved Trail | FS Rd #134 | Accessible for persons with disabilities
Peek into the bottomland forest of Land Between the Lakes as this ¼ mile paved path leads you through sycamores, sweet gums, and oak stands. Kingfishers, green herons, and beaver inhabit these deep woods. This trail offers a great escape in intermittent weather.
Honker Lake and Trail | FS Rd #135
Originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s for waterfowl management. Honker Lake, a shallow 180-acre impoundment, hosts several wildlife reintroductions such as beaver, osprey, giant Canadian geese, and otters. The lake offers two great ways to view wildlife.
A 4.5 mile loop trail circles the lake, taking the hiker through lakeshore, uplands, and bottomland forest. Kayaking and canoeing provide a different vantage point to wildlife in these calm waters. Watch osprey dive for fish, lotus flowers blooming, and beavers slap the water with their paddle-like tail. You can rent canoes and kayaks from the Nature Station (seasonally).
Nature Station Trails Map-2015 in Woodlands Nature Watch Area | All Trails Hike Only
North/South Trail-North End-Hike and Bike
North/South Trail-South End-Hike Only and shares with Horses in some locations
This 59-mile trail spans the entire length of the recreation area. Terrain ranges from rugged, hilly areas in the north to more smooth hiking in the south. You can access portions of this trail from the Woodlands Trace to hike sections of the trail.
We consider a backpacker to be a person who carries all her or his camping equipment and personal belongings in a backpack and wears it to walk via a hiking trail in order to camp one or more nights. Backpackers generally move along the trail to a different location by foot each day. This does not include parking a vehicle and carrying supplies by hand to a campsite.
If you backpack along the Canal Loop, North/South Trail, or Fort Henry Trails, please obtain a free Backpacking Permit. Obtain your permits at kiosks behind North Welcome Station, parking area across from South Welcome Station, and behind Golden Pond Visitor Center. Instructions come with these free permits.
If you plan to camp in a designated Basic Campground or Camping Area such as Sugar Bay, Nickell Branch, or Twin Lakes while backpacking along a trail, you will need to purchase a Basic Camping Permit for each person 18 and over.
Permits are available at our Visitor Center and Welcome Stations along with trail maps and descriptions plus regional information.
Land Between the Lakes Recreation Handbook, Written by Johnny Malloy–Mr. Malloy is currently updating this wonderful book.