As you stroll past colorful patches of wildflowers, a hummingbird flits past your ear. Turtles in a nearby pond dive shyly underwater as you make your way down the path. As the sun sets, a group of coyotes howl nearby. The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, about 90 miles north of Nashville, Tenn. in Western Kentucky, is an animal lover’s paradise.
Nestled between Honker and Hematite lakes, the Woodlands Nature Station is a great stop for nature enthusiasts of all ages. The knowledgeable staff offers interpretive events, such as bald eagle viewing trips, a nature photography weekend, a hummingbird festival and more.
The nature station’s “Backyard” features native wildlife that were orphaned, injured, or born in captivity and cannot be released back into the wild. The facility also cares for a group of endangered red wolves as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Red Wolf Recovery Team. There are less than 300 red wolves left on the planet, and the ones at the Woodlands Nature Station are being bred to help bring their numbers up to safe levels.
See Animal Habitats
Several trails branch out from the station, including the popular 4.5-mile Honker Lake Trail. This family friendly loop takes hikers through a variety of habitats. Guests can also rent canoes for independent trips, or participate in guided canoe tours offered by the staff.
Nestled between the beautiful Kentucky and Barkley lakes, Land Between the Lakes offers unique opportunities for recreation and education. When the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers were impounded to create Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, an inland peninsula was formed. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy designated the peninsula Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in an effort to demonstrate how an area with limited timber, agricultural, and industrial resources could be converted into a recreation asset that would stimulate economic growth in the region. Today, it remains the country's only such demonstration site and is the centerpiece of the region's tourism industry.
Amenities: Flush toilets, drinking water, picnic tables, grills, seasonal programs, hiking trails, telephone, canoe rentals
Operating Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; open Wednesday-Saturday in March and November; open daily April-October; closed Dec. 1 to Feb. 28.
Fee: $5 ages 13+, $3 ages 5-12; call for group rates available
When using any hiking trail, be sure to use bug spray to protect yourself from ticks, mosquitos and other insects.