Western Traveler

Bear Creek Loop Trail, Tennessee

I doubt if many people would argue with the statement that most people have to work too hard and need to take time to get away. My youngest son Nathan and I decided to take a week off and head to our favorite nearby getaway, Kentucky’s Land Between the Lakes.

He’d been working for 15 months without a break and I was nearing the end of a brutal summer at my job.

It was late August when we headed out and as expected, the weather was hot, but not so steamy that we couldn’t find some a good time “chilling” on the bank Kentucky Lake. We were lucky and got our most-treasured campsite (sorry, won’t reveal the location on this one) and set camp to snooze the first afternoon away and watch the sun set over the water. Our ambitious plans to grill out a wonderful meal turned into enjoying some smoked chicken salad and chips & dip. It was clear that absolute laziness was the order of the day.

For the first couple of days we did our usual LBL activities; went to the Golden Pond Visitor Center to catch a couple of new planetarium shows, went exploring on the muddy back roads (truck is still dirty underneath), took time to stop and watch the bison grazing on their range and generally spent the time being worthless.

By the end of the week we decided it was time to try out a new trail. After considerable study on the map we picked the Bear Creek Loop Trail as our choice. We jumped in the once-red Dodge and headed south into Tennessee where we found the trailhead, just northwest of the South Welcome Station in their picnic area.

What makes this trail particularly nice is that it is fairly level, has a lot of variety in scenery and is fairly easy to follow. Even so, I suggest you grab a trail guide at any of the visitor centers at LBL as a reference. There were a couple of places where the map came in handy.

We started by climbing a moderate grade up out of the parking lot. From there the trail slithered in and out of the hardwood and evergreen forest, sometimes bringing us into open cornfields at the end of the growing season. This traveling from forest to farmland made for a very pleasant and unique experience. Along the way you’ll find countless species of flowers, some wild, others domestic, reminding us that LBL is made up of numerous old homesteads and the evidence is everywhere; building foundations, chimneys in the middle of the woods and ancient agricultural artifacts rusting away in the forest. One interesting thing about this hike is that it combines nature trails with old road beds, making for an enjoyable and curious experience.

Strangely enough, the most difficult thing about this hike was the relentless presence of cobwebs. They were everywhere! It got to the point where I had to take the lead and knock them down (for the entire 7.2 miles) as we hiked the route. This was a first for me in all my years of outdoor recreation.

Nathan and I both agree that this would be a great winter hike (hopefully, minus the spider webs), especially following a snowfall. The small stream fjords shouldn’t be a problem, except in the wettest of weather.

Last modified on: June 15th 2013.
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