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Hematite Lake in Land Between The Lakes

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A short descent down a set of stairs brings visitors to a causeway of concrete "lily pads," which leads hikers and explorers across Hematite Lake and onto the 2.2-mile walking trail that surrounds the lake. Towards the back of the trail you’ll pass over the boardwalk and a series of bridges that cross the marsh.

You’ll discover large trees that span nearly 200 years. These trees are enormous and are the surviving relics that managed to escape the ax during the logging era of the 1800s. Among these gorgeous trees live wildlife and native plants, making the forested areas around Hematite Lake a favorite focal point for photographers who make the trek to the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.

No matter what time of year you choose to visit Hematite Lake you’re sure to see something new and amazing. These historic grounds were once mined for their rich deposits of a type of iron ore called hematite. Bands of the ore can still be viewed today if you look closely at the rock formations, which encompass the area surrounding this 83.6-acre lake. There’s also an old iron furnace not far from the lake that might peak your interest, as well.

What to Pack

Parts of the Hematite Lake walking trail can get a bit mucky when the weather is wet and humid. So, don’t go light on the bug spray, especially if you’re planning on exploring the marsh areas for a while.

Also, parts of the trail can sometimes become slick, especially along the boardwalk. Therefore, you’ll want to wear a comfortable pair of walking shoes that have a good grip on the sole.

Hematite Lake offers a nice picnic area and bathrooms are located near the entrance. Many families and friends enjoy packing a picnic lunch or a snack to enjoy while resting within the picnic grounds. So, you might consider packing a basket full of goodies for a little more outdoor indulgence.

Who to Bring

This trail is relatively flat and therefore is appropriate for all ages and most fitness levels. Parents who are looking to get their kids out into the great outdoors will appreciate the safety of this trail, as everyone takes time to enjoy the two observation decks, a boardwalk and the many opportunities to view wildlife in their natural habitats.

The trail and picnic grounds are also dog-friendly, which makes this an outing appropriate for everyone in the family!

What to Expect

There are lots of critters to see at Hematite Lake. Anglers love the sunfish and other small fish varieties found in the lake waters, while bird watchers enjoying observing a number of migratory waterfowl that inhabit the area. Visitors are also likely to encounter cranes, beavers, frogs, squirrels and turtles during a stroll along the Hematite Lake walking trail.

While you’re exploring the trail, you can see evidence of the hematite that once provided a thriving industry for the residents of Trigg County, Kentucky. In fact, there are still bands of this iron ore tucked in the rock formations, for those who take the time to look closely. You’ll also find bits of a blueish-colored byproduct commonly known as "slag," that is still woven along the pathways.  

Plan Your Visit

Be prepared to spend about an hour and a half walking around the lake and build in some time for your picnic, as well. There are so many sights to see around Hematite Lake that you’ll want to come back several times throughout the year just to see how the landscape evolves from one season to the next.

If you’re looking for other things to do in the area, you’ll find lots of fun and educational things to explore around the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. Take some time to learn the history of iron ore production that was once performed in this area. Loads of informative brochures and displays can be found nearby at the Nature Station.  

Hematite Lake

SEASON  Year round
ADMISSION  None
GPS  N 36 53.825" / W 88 2.567"  {Map It!}
LOCATION  12.7 miles / 19 minutes north of the Visitor Center on Energy Lake Road (FS Rd. #134)

Spend Some Time at Land Between The Lakes

Just like Hematite Lake, there are several other great places to visit inside Land Between The Lakes.  In fact, you might even need to spend a night or two so you can experience all LBL and the surrounding area has to offer.  If staying at a campground in LBL isn't an option for you, you can find extensive lodging choices just outside the national recreation area.

Note:  ExploreKentuckyLake.com is not the official site of the Land Between The Lakes. You can access their official site here.


Lunch Time!
Photo by Melodie Cunningham

Splash! This bald eagle is diving for a tasty fish. Bald eagles use their exceptional eye sight to spot their prey up to a mile away!