For travelers staying in town and looking to have a great, nature-connection experience before departing.
A regular activity for many spanning from Paducah, Bowling Green, Owensboro and Nashville—and everywhere in between!
For those on the quest for all kinds of birds and waterfowl, critters, frogs, deer, fish, and even the occasional beaver!
100 Van Morgan Drive | Golden Pond, KY 42211 | (270) 924-2000
Hike Here, Explore Here, Grab a Bite, Repeat.
If you’re visiting Cadiz, Kentucky, and you’re looking for something outdoorsy to do, no doubt some friendly face or another has told you, “You have to check out Land Between the Lakes.”
Well, you do.
Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is a huge playground—170,000 acre huge—and that can make deciding where to hike, bike, or explore difficult.
Most of us visiting the area want to pack as much in as possible, so that means a short hike here, explore a little there, grab a bite to eat and repeat tomorrow.
A 2.2 Mile Flat Hike—Great For All Ages
On my trip to Cadiz and my exploration of Land Between the Lakes, I found the perfect hike to give you a taste of the history and landscape here: Hematite Lake. It’s a loop hike that’s 2.2-miles long and relatively flat, making it easy for younger hikers.
Hematite History: Pre-Civil War & Iron Ore
Let’s start with some history.
Before the Civil War, Land Between the Lakes was an important area for the production of iron. Pockets of iron ore were found all along this spit of land, and a great number of iron furnaces were built to convert the raw ore into usable iron.
One of those iron ores is Hematite.
You’ve seen it in jewelry and rock shops; it’s a shiny, liquid-looking grey/black stone that’s surprisingly heavy and smooth to the touch.
Hematite was found in abundance here, and Hematite Lake is the site of one of the places where they mined the mineral. If you look closely at the rocks along the trail, you’ll find most with bands of hematite running through them.
Choose Either Trail, Both Lead Back Here
At the Hematite Lake trailhead, you’ll be met with two things: the long, beautiful view of the lake, and the decision of which direction to go.
Take in the sight of the lake, then take either trail, they both lead back to here. To the left, the trail crosses a wide causeway via a series of what look like concrete lily pads; to the right, the trail ascends slightly into the woods.
I recommend going straight and saving the concrete lily pads for last as they’re fun to cross (though, I believe the masses choose to start the trek with the concrete blocks).
The trail is wide and reasonably smooth, though if you have a stroller that’s not of the off-road variety, you may find it difficult. I, being solo and therefore stroller-less, had no problem navigating the trail.
Tell All Your Friends About Hiking Hematite Lake
Look for Deer, Beavers, Cranes, Frogs, and Hematite
As you make your way through the woods, you’ll catch glimpses of the lake through the trees. Here and there, trails to the water’s edge split off; anglers mostly use these and the main trail is easy to see and follow.
After a short ways, the trail will leave the edge of the lake and make for higher ground along the side of a rolling hill. This is because the original trail was too close to the edge and has become a bit too swampy and downright flooded in parts, so the trail was moved.
Continue along and soon the trail will descend and begin to cross a series of footbridges. These carry you above the streams and marshy areas that feed Hematite Lake.
There are several great spots to photograph the lake, trail, and marsh here, but be warned: if you stop for long, the bugs will find you, so wear some bug spray.
(I have friends who live in Cadiz… they’ve claimed taking the trail without a bit of repellent and remained completely mosquito-bite-free the entire trek. Maybe my timing was met with the perfect conditions for the critters).
You’ll follow the footbridges for a while as you make your way across the eastern side of the lake, then, once on the other side, you’ll ascend back into the woods. Here, on the northern side of the lake, you’ll find a number of rock formations banded with hematite.
Take a few minutes to check them out.
Things You’ll Need and Things You Might See
Soon, the trail will come back to the western edge of the lake. Here there are blackberry brambles to either side of the trail (remember, I started the journey taking the Woods entrance; you’ll see this right off that bat if you took the concrete steps across the dam).
Take the wide trail through the brambles and then the concrete lily pads at the causeway. As tempted as you may be to step off the lily pads and into the cool water, don’t, the water’s shallow—only about a foot deep—and the causeway is quite slick, so make like a frog and leap from pad to pad until you’re back at the trailhead.
Hematite Lake Trail is a short one, but you’ll still need to bring water and bug spray (at least I recommend it).
And my friends who are locals, don’t always heed this tip, but I still say, “be sure to apply some sunscreen before you make the loop—especially if you take it on a hot summer day.”
There are plenty of opportunities to check out wildlife on your hike. You’ll mostly see birds, squirrel and other small animals, but there’s the chance you’ll come across deer, a flock of turkey, and even beaver.
- LBL Visitors looking for a quick get-in-touch-with-nature stroll
- Regional folks looking to cross another “I never knew about this place” place off your local attractions list
- and Wildlife Discovery Junkies who love to spot cranes, beavers, frogs and all sorts of animals without a fence between you and them
Go take a Hike… or rather, COME and take this hike around Hematite Lake!
“Hi, I’m Jason. I tell stories about people and places I love. Cadiz and the Lake Barkley region was a delightful discovery, especially for this food-loving outdoor-junkie.”
In all, Hematite Lake is an outstanding hike to introduce yourself to the terrain and wildlife found in Land Between the Lakes,
so make this a priority hike on your visit to Cadiz.
100 Van Morgan Drive | Golden Pond, KY 42211 | (270) 924-2000