Land Between the Lakes Paddle Route: Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley

Lake City Kentucky Water Trails

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Look at a map of the United States, then focus on middle America. Try to find any body of water with 300 miles of undeveloped shoreline. Only one place offers such a shoreline—Land between the Lakes. Here paddlers in both canoes and sea kayaks can travel along the bays and bluffs of Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. Adventurous paddlers will circumnavigate the long peninsula of the LBL, making nearly a loop separated by less than 10 miles of land. Paddlers can go for days without backtracking and still end up fairly close to their car and point of origin. The 85 miles is the shortest possible route of an LBL peninsula circumnavigation without exploring bays or making any side trips. A look at the map will show that this route can be extended by many miles and from five days to over two weeks. This circumnavigation of the LBL peninsula is what I call the Land between the Lakes Paddle Route, the best paddling area in middle America. The route begins on Kentucky Lake at Boswell Landing Lake Access in Tennessee. Paddlers then head north along Kentucky Lake, passing many big bays while heading north into Kentucky. Lake accesses and campgrounds occasionally break wild shoreline. The Kentucky Dam eventually comes into view. Here, paddlers take Barkley Canal, joining Kentucky Lake to Lake Barkley. Paddlers may experience a strong current here. Which way this current flows depends on which watershed—the Tennessee River or the Cumberland River—have received more rainfall recently. Paddlers leave the canal, heading east, past Kuttawa Landing Lake Access. Beyond here, Lake Barkley turns south, and paddlers pass the largest bays of Barkley. Islands appear more frequently south of the US 68/KY 80 bridge. Finally, paddlers reenter the Volunteer State and end the paddle route at the boat launch near Gatlin Point Campground. From here, it is but 10 miles by road to Boswell Landing.
A Canoeing & Kayaking Guide to Kentucky

DESCRIPTION FROM:

A Canoeing & Kayaking Guide to Kentucky

by Bob Sehlinger & Johnny Molloy (Menasha Ridge Press)

Look at a map of the United States, then focus on middle America. Try to find any body of water with 300 miles of undeveloped shoreline. Only one place offers such a shoreline—Land between the Lakes. Here paddlers in both canoes and sea kayaks can travel along the bays and bluffs of Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. Adventurous paddlers will circumnavigate the long peninsula of the LBL, making nearly a loop separated by less than 10 miles of land. Paddlers can go for days without backtracking and still end up fairly close to their car and point of origin. The 85 miles is the shortest possible route of an LBL peninsula circumnavigation without exploring bays or making any side trips. A look at the map will show that this route can be extended by many miles and from five days to over two weeks. This circumnavigation of the LBL peninsula is what I call the Land between the Lakes Paddle Route, the best paddling area in middle America. The route begins on Kentucky Lake at Boswell Landing Lake Access in Tennessee. Paddlers then head north along Kentucky Lake, passing many big bays while heading north into Kentucky. Lake accesses and campgrounds occasionally break wild shoreline. The Kentucky Dam eventually comes into view. Here, paddlers take Barkley Canal, joining Kentucky Lake to Lake Barkley. Paddlers may experience a strong current here. Which way this current flows depends on which watershed—the Tennessee River or the Cumberland River—have received more rainfall recently. Paddlers leave the canal, heading east, past Kuttawa Landing Lake Access. Beyond here, Lake Barkley turns south, and paddlers pass the largest bays of Barkley. Islands appear more frequently south of the US 68/KY 80 bridge. Finally, paddlers reenter the Volunteer State and end the paddle route at the boat launch near Gatlin Point Campground. From here, it is but 10 miles by road to Boswell Landing.

©   Bob Sehlinger & Johnny Molloy/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Flatwater Paddling & Canoeing
Nearby City: Lake City
Skill Level: Class I.
Local Contacts: Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area
Local Maps: USGS Rushing Creek, Fenton, Fairdealing, Birmingham Point, Grand Rivers, Eddyville, Mont, Canton, Linton
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