Sometimes you can have the perfect trip planned out and then the weather doesn’t cooperate. And there’s no rain check. So what do you do? You go anyway and adventure in the rain.
Last fall, Hike Like A Woman sister Annie and I planned a get-to-gather near her stomping grounds in Land Between the Lakes in Tennessee and Kentucky. We had plans for hiking and kayaking, but then the rains came. And it rained on us the entire weekend. It rained on us so much that I had to buy a new rain jacket. So now I am the proud owner of a Land Between the Lakes rain jacket.
Lake Between the Lakes is a 170,000-acre peninsula of forests, wetlands, and open lands that is between one to nine miles wide and 40 miles long. It is flanked by the Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in western Kentucky and Tennessee. There are 300 miles of undeveloped shoreline and 190 acres of wildlife refuges.
It is one of the largest blocks of undeveloped forest land in the eastern United States. For its website, click here.
There is so much to do. There are 261 miles of hiking trails, 106 miles of horse trails, 70 miles of mountain biking trails, and 444 miles of scenic road, not to mention the endless kayaking and water trails.
Needless to say, Annie and I weren’t going to be able to see it all, even if hadn’t rained. But we bundled up and set off to explore in the rain anyway.
Learning the history and looking for elk
The first thing we did was check out the Great Western Iron Furnace. The Land Between the Lakes is full of history. In the mid-19th Century, iron ore production was popular throughout the area. There are two iron furnaces in Land Between the Lakes still standing today that allow visitors to take a peek back in time.
After exploring around the Great Western Iron Furnace, Annie and I went on to the Elk and Bison Prairie to attempt to spot some of the wildlife that calls Land Between the Lakes home. Perhaps it was our timing, perhaps it was the rain, but we only heard them and did not see any.
Following the Elk and Bison Prairie, we went on a short hike to find an old silo, which at one point allowed visitors to trek to the top for a panoramic view. However, those days are long gone. Annie and I simply enjoyed walking around exploring history.
From the silo, we ventured to an old farm, that Annie told me used to be a fun attraction for children when she was young, but is no more.
Woodlands Nature Station
The Woodlands Nature Station allows visitors to really explore and get to know the natural world at Land Between the Lakes. Annie and I were able to observe hawks, owls, and other birds of prey, as well as groundhogs, a bobcat, turkeys, deer, and coyotes.
A rare red wolf also inhabits the Backyard of the Woodland Nature Station.
Being that we are just big kids, Annie and I stuck around for the interpretive talk on snakes and got to touch a live snake.
The Homeplace 1850s Working Farm and Living History Museum
Perhaps my favorite part of exploring Land Between the Lakes was seeing the Homeplace 1850s Working Farm and Living History Museum. I’m a sucker for places that allow me to step back in time and pretend I’m a character from a story.
The Homeplace shows what a two-generation farm was like in the 1850s. It is extremely well maintained, and because it’s a working farm, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the fields growing crops and animals.
Annie and I got to witness a woman in period clothes feed the pigs. It was like I was watching a movie, only I was in the movie.
The Homeplace is quite large and extensive. It includes a double pen house, woodshed, vegetable garden and corn crib, a garden crib, stock barn, single pen house, ox barn, chicken house, tobacco barn, blacksmith shop, crop field hot lot and crib, tool barn, orchard, springhouse, smokehouse, mule pen, and pasture.
Camping in the rain
After a full day of exploring, Annie and I were thoroughly drenched and went back to camp. We backed our vehicles up to each other and raised the hatches so we could visit in a dry space in the rain.
Kayaking at Land Between the Lakes
The next morning there was a tiny break in the rain. This break allowed Annie and me to get in about an hour and half of kayaking before the rain returned. We set off to kayak around the Bear Creek Waterfowl Management Unit along Lake Barkley.
It was a gorgeous float and there were a lot of birds to watch. We paddled lazily around and observed nature in a quiet and still setting.
There is so much to do at Land Between the Lakes, a day and a half really isn’t very much time. But Annie is a wonderful tour guide and I thoroughly enjoyed learning so much about this special place and visiting with my friend.