Lake Barkley State Park Things to Do
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Just next door (i.e. about a 10 minute car ride), you can be in the Land Between the Lakes Recreational area, which is a large land mass between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. Here, there are many options - you can find marinas, hiking trails, nature centers, an Elk & Bison prairie, and a nice visitor center (there was a gentleman dressed as a wizard...I'm not sure what he was doing there, but may have been related to the planetarium...)
At the visitor center, which is quite close to the main road through the middle of the park, you can learn about some of the history and nature of the area. They have nice clean restrooms, and a small playground and picnic area. We spent a little time here before turning south and heading to Dover and Fort Donelson.
On the way, we saw the remnants of the Great Western Iron Furnace, which operated in the 1800's to create iron ore. It's a huge structure and is hard to miss.
If you're around the Lake Barkley area, this is a great spot to get over and visit.
Unfortunately, we were there after a lot of rain, so a number of the trails were closed, but we did get to hike the Blue Springs trail - a 1.3 mile trail that starts near the fitness center. What was nice was that it was a pretty forested trail, over a few ravines with only mild elevation changes. There were several neat plants and animals we saw, which added to the enjoyment.
The problem was ticks. All four of us found at least one after getting back to the room. If possible, follow the rules about avoiding ticks (such as long pants). The experience turned us off to any further hikes when the other trails eventually opened.
0 Hotels in Lake Barkley State Park
Lake Barkley State Park Restaurants
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The restaurant at the state park was our quick and easy choice the first evening. After that experience, we went back for breakfast and dinner every day there. The menu has a number of choices ranging from sandwiches to entrees, but the draw to us was the buffet. All you can eat for $12 for adults, but FREE for kids under 6! From my perspective, there was enough good choices to keep coming back. One side of the buffet is your typical salad bar with a decent selection of trimmings as well as a handful of pasta and potato salads and two choices of soup. On the other side of the room, there were 3 main entree selection (such as roasted chicken, carved ham, pulled pork) and a number of sides (corn, potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, etc.) For dessert, there were a few choices including the all time great buffet finisher of soft serve ice cream. At breakfast, you had a number of choices (potatoes, grits, pancakes, fruit, cereal, etc.) $7 for adults for breakfast.
Almost everything I had was delicious. The servers are quite friendly, and the dining room is neat - huge, room with lots of windows to overlook the lake.
No need to go elsewhere - this was the place to be!