For a leisurely hike with plenty of scenic views check out Land Between The Lake’s Honker Lake Trail near Woodlands Nature Station. This four mile trail is great for kids because it only takes 2-3 hours to complete, has lots of wildlife viewing opportunities, and beautiful fall foliage. The trail begins at Nature Station which has indoor interpretive displays about native plants and animals and outdoor rescued animals such as deer, turky, a bald eagle, a woodchuck, a bobact, turtles, and more. Nature Station even has a pair of red wolves that are a part of a captive breeding program to reestablish this endangered population.
From Nature Station the Honker Lake Trail meanders near the shoreline and through forests and fields along Honker Lake. After our hike we stopped at my favorite picnic spot at Land Between The Lakes, the Hematite Lake picnic area. Large, mature shade trees, and open terrain make this a great place for kids to run around and enjoy the outdoors. If you’re feeling adventurous after lunch you can even hike the easy two mile trail around Hematite Lake for some great waterfowl viewing!
This is the time of year when a hiker feels like a kid in a candy store! I love the fall! I love the colors of the leaves on the trees, the crisp of the air, and the coffee in hand after a brisk hike in Kentucky woodlands. Must see hiking this October will include a stop this week at Nolin Lake State Park just north of the Mammoth Cave National Park in Edmonson county. These guys have a great campground, pleasant lakefront, and woodland trail that leads to a big ol’ waterfall. Catch it after a rain and you’re in for a treat. I’d compare it in beauty to Eagle Falls!
I’ll also be dropping by Shanty Hollow Lake just north of Bowling Green on highway 185. This is managed by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. Every season is a show here, but fall drops the jaw for sure! If I go into the woods, I won’t want to come back out! Best time to go here is during the week in the morning, as weekends can get crowded with folks that know the secret of this place.
For updated info on fall colors, call the Kentucky Fall Colors Hotline at 800-225-8747. Or you can just look out your back door…yep, fall is here!
Good luck, and be safe! Till next time…
Appalachia is a scenic place, especially in the fall. A visit to the mountainous southeastern region during the autumn prime time reveals vaulted scarps of rock clothed loosely in patches of red, gold, and green, sputtering with streamlets that course their boulder-strewn waterways beneath the brilliant fall canopy. Over thousands of years, an elaborate collection of hardwood and softwood trees have formed a gargantuan greenhouse, a retreat for a verdant medley of living things.
When last I walked in the mountains on a fall day, tawny oak leaves formed a rustling carpet along a dogtrot path littered with fallen yellow-green acorns. Gray squirrels and chipmunks scampered frantically about, busily tending to their booming nut business. After a spell, I happened upon a jumble of remnant stones that once rose as the chimney and corners of an old home place and just beyond, a crumbling cemetery with illegible headstones, the sole testaments of the hardscrabble mountain folks who first settled the land.
My day’s adventure was authentic and real, as much as could be hoped for, and the backdrop of all was the inherent pageantry of fall. Everyone should be so fortunate as to experience such marvels in a single day, but only in Appalachia, and only in the autumn.
With the peak of color projected to begin occurring the week of the 17th across the southeastern region, sweater-weather is here and a great time of frolicking in the crisp mountain air surrounded by a crazy-quilt of blazing colors awaits you. Looking for the best time you’ll have all year? Head for the mountains – right now.
The last Sunday in September my son and I took advantage of cooler weather and tested out our brand new backpack carrier at Lake Barkley State Resort Park in western Kentucky. By piecing together several of Lake Barkley’s trails we were able to complete a five mile hike, no small feat when you’re carrying 30 pounds worth of toddler on your back! We took the Lena Madesin Phillips Trail to the Wilderness Trail, and after it ended walked the two miles back to Lake Barkley’s lodge. Lake Barkley’s trail system is great for kids because it winds past a swimming beach, providing a nice opportunity to let them run around or to have a picnic lunch.
Lake Barkley also has excellent playground facilities and if the weather is uncooperative for getting outdoors, an indoor pool that is open year round. If you plan on hiking at Lake Barkley, stop in at the lodge to get a trail map and directions to the trailhead. Lake Barkley’s trails feature scenic lake views, lots of wildlife viewing opportunities and varied terrain. Check out a complete list of trails at http://parks.ky.gov/findparks/resortparks/lb/trails/. Luckily for me there wasn’t too much of an elevation gain at any given time! I’ll be featuring toddler friendly hikes in the Land Between The Lakes region, so stay tuned!
THE OFFICIAL SITE OF THE KENTUCKY DEPARTMENT OF TRAVEL
Capital Plaza Tower 22nd Floor, 500 Mero Street, Frankfort, KY 40601