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Kentucky Lake / Lake Barkley in Tennessee

Trip Overview

Spent last week on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in Northern Tennessee/Southern Kentucky. The Land Between The Lakes is a federal park that covers a very large area between these two lakes, which used to be rivers(Tennessee and Cumberland). Wilderness camping is encouraged and pretty much the only limitations are, you can't camp on a road or in a cemetery. I highly recommend it. Very nice family car campgrounds, stuff to see, including a bison range safari and the lakes were, while a tad warm, pretty clean and free of lake lice. But I did go during the week. This was more of a scouting trip. I would like to plan a full week or more to paddle the circumference of the park, which would be roughly 150 miles, as you can take a canal at the North end of the two lakes and there are locks joining the South ends. It was August in the South, but a cold front moved through on Wednesday and made for a very pleasant day, although I suspect rather unseasonably cool.

I put in at Neville Bay and paddled up Lake Barkley to some inlet the 1st night and on up to Honker Bay the 2nd night. A cold front pushed through along with some pretty strong North - South Winds on Wednesday night and I was able to cover the two days back in less than a day! Sure am glad it wasn't a head wind!


Plenty of tent and trailer camping facilities with reasonably clean showers. Tent camping was $12/ night if I recall correctly.


There are $5 back country 3 day permits and an annual permit is $18.


I took Hwy 24 North out of Chattanooga and took a left at Clarksville, Hwy 41a to hwy 79 to Southern entrance of the park.


Pick up maps at the welcome station where you register.

Also see:

  • Duration: 2-3 Day Trip
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip