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Kentucky Lake Area Scenic Drives

Got an itch for a Sunday drive? The Kentucky Lakes Area offers plenty of opportunities for experiencing the scenic views of Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley, and Land Between The Lakes.

Woodlands Trace National Scenic Byway

Known as "The Trace" to the locals, this 45-mile long paved highway begins at the north entrance of LBL and ends at Dover.

On some maps, it may be listed as Kentucky 453.  On The Trace, you can see all kinds of wildlife including deer, buffalo, elk, and more.

Be sure to stop in at the Homeplace 1850, the Elk & Bison Range, and the Great Western Iron Furnace located along the highway.

Kentucky Lake Drive

This is a short, three-mile drive located in the northern end of LBL near the canal.  Accessible via The Trace, Kentucky Lake Drive will take you to several overlooks on Kentucky Lake.  Picnic areas are also along this route, as well as hiking & biking trails.  This is a must-see for anyone driving through the Kentucky Lakes Area!

Lakes Area North Loop

Approximately 110 miles in length, this route begins at Aurora on US 68/KY 80. Heading east, this route takes you across Kentucky Lake, through LBL, across Lake Barkley, and into Trigg County.  Follow US 68/KY 80 to Cadiz.  Be sure to take the Business Route to Cadiz so you can check out the downtown area along with the shops.

Then, head back west on US 68/KY 80, but turn on Kentucky 274, just outside Cadiz.  Kentucky 274 winds through the Lake Barkley area, crossing Little River and heading to Eddyville.  The road intersects with Kentucky 93 at Confederate.

Continue north on Kentucky 93 to Eddyville.  There you can enjoy Eddyville's plentiful attractions, including Venture River Waterpark.  From Eddyville, turn west and head down US 62/641 to Kuttawa.  Hang a left on Kentucky 295 and tour the Old Kuttawa area.  This is also a must-see and offers great views of Lake Barkley and Kuttawa Harbor.  Kentucky 295 loops back to US 62/641 and continues west.

A few miles down the road you will cross the Cumberland River and scenic Barkley Dam.  Just a couple more miles down the road you will enter into the Kentucky Dam Area.  At Kentucky Dam, you can take a brief tour of the facility and go inside the dam.  There are new fishing piers and picnic tables in this area as well.  It is worth the time to check out Kentucky Dam, especially when the gates are open.

Right after Kentucky Dam, US 641 splits from US 62, so head south on US 641.  This roadway will take you through the Kentucky Dam Village area.  Just a few miles down the road is Draffenville.  You're probably hungry by now, so be sure to stop and eat at one of the several restaurants.  Turn down US 68 east from Draffenville and head back to Aurora, about 15 miles down the road.  In Aurora, you can enjoy Kenlake State Park, a few specialty shops, restaurants and more.

Lakes Area Middle Loop

This is a longer scenic route, about 115 miles. We're going to being our Lakes Area Middle Loop at Aurora and head west down the four-lane Kentucky 80.  About 15 miles down Kentucky 80 you will run into Murray.

At Murray, there are several attractions and shopping opportunities for you and your family to enjoy.  Murray also has more dining options than any other part of the area.  Heading south on US 641 from Murray, about eight miles down the road is the antique lover's paradise - Hazel.

At Hazel, you will find over a dozen antique malls and stores, representing over 500 dealers!  Once you've toured Hazel, continue south to Paris, TN, about 15 miles down US 641.  In Paris, be sure to visit the all the attractions including the Heritage Museum, the Eiffel Tower, and the south's most beautiful downtown district - the Paris Court Square.

Turn on US 79 North from Paris and head to beautiful Kentucky Lake and Paris Landing State Park.  Plenty of scenic vistas and attractions await you here!  Back on US 79 North, cross Kentucky Lake and head into Stewart County.

Most of the drive from the lake to Dover borders the southern end of LBL.  About 12 or so miles down the road, you will enter into Dover.  Be sure to stop at the Fort Donelson National Battlefield and take the tour! It's an experience in itself.

From Dover, continue north on US 79 to the intersection of Tennessee 120, and head north through Bumpus Mills. You can enjoy a day of fun at the Bumpus Mills Recreation Area.  Continue to head north across the TN/KY border.

The highway becomes Kentucky 139, which intersects with Kentucky 164.  Turn west on Kentucky 164 to Linton. Stop at Linton and get a couple of pictures of Lake Barkley.  From Linton, head north to US 68/KY 80 at Canton, then turn west back through LBL and to Aurora.

Lakes Area South Loop

This is the longest scenic route at about 140 miles.  This is a great loop for history buffs, especially those who are interested in the Civil War.  It's definitely a full day with the stops!

We begin at Paris Landing State Park.  Here you'll find recreational opportunities and some great views of Kentucky Lake.  Head on down US 79 but turn on Oak Grove Road and head south.  Then follow Elkhorn Road to State Route 69A.  Follow this to Big Sandy.

In Big Sandy you'll see this once thriving railroad community that is located on the banks of the Big Sandy River.  From Big Sandy, head down 69A to Camden.  Camden has a few shops and some eateries, but most notably is has the Nathan Bedford Forest State Park.  Make sure you check out the visitor's center and Pilot Knob. 

From there, hop on US 70 and cross Kentucky Lake at New Johnsonville.  Railroad enthusiasts will get a kick out of the large vertical-lift span that crosses Kentucky Lake.  It's a huge railroad bridge, but very old and has tons of character.  Trains frequent this line so you'll probably get to see one.

Head to Johnsonville State Historic Park and visit their new state-of-the-art visitor's center to learn about The Battle of Johnsonville, a Civil War Site.  Make sure you check out the historical remains of the park.

From there, you can head a few miles down the road to Waverly, Tenn.  You could detour and head south on TN 13 to check out Loretta Lynn's Ranch and Campground.  Or you can head north on 13 to Erin, Tenn.  Make sure you to the downtown area.  This bustling little town has charm, and one of the few places we've ever seen an intersection that had one single stoplight - a throwback to the 1950s.

From Erin, head up TN 49.  You'll pass by the Bear Spring Furnace and Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge.  The road continues west to Dover, Tenn. where you can spend some time at Fort Donelson.

You could head up through LBL to visit some of the attractions there or you could call it a day and head back to Paris Landing.