"So are we going quad riding or what?" My brother, who was visiting from out of state, has a way of cutting to the chase. That was as good an excuse as any to load the quads, pack the RV and head to one of my favorite ride areas.
Land Between the Lakes (LBL) is a National Recreation Area. This neck of land is located between Kentucky Lake to the west and Lake Barkley to the east. The southern entrance, located in Tennessee, brings you into the park on a road simply called "The Trace." Traveling north toward Kentucky, you will find numerous side roads that lead to lake access, day-use areas and campgrounds.
Special attractions in LBL include the Homeplace, a living-history farm; Woodlands Nature Station, an area showcasing wildlife such as red wolves, deer, wild turkeys and bald eagles; and a 700-acre restored native grassland home to a herd of 40 bison and 50 elk. Of particular interest to off-road enthusiasts is the Turkey Bay OHV Area. Turkey Bay was the first federally designated contained area for OHV riding and camping. Centrally located in LBL, this 2500-acre off-roaders' paradise is open to ATVs, motorcycles, dune buggies, jeeps and any other off-road machine you can think of.
Our arrival on Sunday afternoon would ensure the weekend crowd would be thinning. After buying our quad and camping permits, we got a quick rundown on the rules and a map of the riding area from the ranger. We then headed toward the Kentucky Lake shoreline. One of my favorite reasons for riding Turkey Bay is the ability to camp near the water. Although no hookups are available, there is nothing like camping at the water's edge.
Leaving the unloading/camping areas, we followed main trails open to larger vehicles, which make for an easy ride for novice ATVers. We ventured off the main trails and found a variety of challenging hillclimbs and tight woods riding. Due to the extremely rocky conditions in some sections, I would recommend full skid plates.
Million-dollar views await the riders who find the many bluffs that overlook Kentucky Lake. While navigating the trails to the shoreline we found several "bowls" in the crushed rock at the water's edge. Here I showed my brother how to roost gravel.
There was a cool breeze coming off the lake and the water was lapping at the shoreline. I put steaks on the grill and Bob Seger on the stereo. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, a bald eagle flew over the water, its bright white-feathered head contrasting with the fading sunlight. What could possibly be a more-perfect ending to a perfect day?
Annual permit (valid April l to March 31; available March l) $45
Seven-day permit $25
One- to three-day permits $15
Once used to supply water...
Once used to supply water to local residents, this abandoned well, now known as the Silo, has become a popular meeting spot for off-road riders.
Turkey Bay $8 per night (multiple-night discount available)
Sleeps 4 $49
(Wranglers is the nearest campground with full hookups. You will be sharing it with horses and will have to trailer to Turkey Bay.)
Rushing Creek $8 per night (multiple-night discount available)
(Rushing Creek is becoming popular with the off-road crowd. If you stay here, you will have to trailer to Turkey Bay.)
Aurora's Ken Oak Resort: 270/474-8000, 800/580-0682;www.kenoakresort.com
Cedar Lane: 270/474-8042
Early American: 270/474-2241
Fin 'N Feather: 270/474-2351
For more information, contact:
USDA Forest Service Land Between the Lakes 100 Van Morgan Drive Golden Pond, KY 42211-9001 270/924-2000, 800/LBL-7077; www.lbl.org