Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hike 2011.053 -- Honker Lake, Land Between the Lakes NRA, KY

Hiked Friday, August 12. Three hikes in a row, although I'm pretty sure I'm too far behind to possibly manage 100 hikes for this year.

Drove out in the afternoon. From KY-80, take "The Trace" north about nine miles, then turn right, towards the Woodlands Wildlife Station. Since the gate on the last 1/4 mile or so of road to get to the Station is locked at 5pm, you need to park outside the gate if your hiking will keep you later than that.

Also, there seems to be a dearth of speed limit signs on the northbound side of the Trace, from US 80 on north. I did not remember seeing any speed limit signs going that way on either of my two trips to this area. However, a few signs on the southbound side to exist, so it is apparently 50mph though the entire Trace, except if it's posted otherwise. The road towards the Woodlands Wildlife Station seems to be 35mph or less, as posted.

Just 1/8 or so from the gate that is locked, there's a picnic bench area with a flush toilet and water fountain. It's adjacent to A short gravel road that takes you behind the restroom area, to where a sign on a chain indicates a "wildlife viewing area" is here.

On the other side of the chain is a sign, pointing to the right if you want to reach any of the hiking trails in the Woodlands area. Walking left here would take you to the North-South trail.

I walked right. You soon reach another gravel road, with a gate across it, announcing, "Authorized Personnel, Only." I'm pretty sure that applies to actually driving your car, however. Otherwise, the trail signs make no sense.

Less than five minutes down this gravel road, you'll notice a fifteen-foot cut in the grass coming in from the left. Immediately on the other side of the road from that cut is a trail that heads into the forest on your right. Although I did not know it at the time (but I did suspect it), this is the Honker Lake Trail. You could head in either direction from here, and be back where you started just 4.4 miles or so later.

Since there was no sign facing the access road I was on to tell me what this trail was, and because I didn't bother walking down the trail looking for a sign, I just continued more or less easterly along the road, eventually hitting other roads, and a sign for the Woodlands Trail. I walked on the Woodlands trail for a while before running into the Honker Trail. I know I walked the Honker Trail in a counter-clockwise direction, but I'm a little fuzzy in my recollection about which way I walked on the Woodland Walk.

Since I'm not exactly sure where on the map I ran into the Woodland Walk, I can't tell how long I walked on that before hitting the Honker Trail. My best guess is I must have walked somewhat over 1/2 mile from my car before hitting Honker Trail. Honker is supposed to be 4.3 miles, so I'm giving my mileage for the day at between 4.8 and 5.0 miles.

A .pdf of the flyer for the Honker Lake (August 12) and Hematite Lake and Center Furnance Trails is here.

The landscape around Honker was obviously very similar to that of Hematite Lake. The main differences are that Honker is much larger, and it's basically an extension of the massive Lake Barkley. It also has several islands and lots of wetlands that larger migratory birds seem to like. It gets its name (Honker Lake) from the Canada Geese that both reside there permanently and use it as a pit stop on their migrations. I also saw several grey herons (or perhaps the same one about three times?) and a large, white, egret-looking bird.

The heron was photo-graphed successful-ly (not with the best of surround-ings, but you can't help that), while the egret was tougher. Its white body provided too much of a contrast with the dark background. The shots that were more zoomed in all came out fuzzy.

Both were taken on the far end of the trail, near the causeway or dam that separates Honker Lake from Lake Barklay.

Perhaps in part due to the timing of my walk (starting about 5:30pm and ending near 8pm), the deer were out in force. I got more fuzzy pictures than anything else, and didn't even attempt to take pictures of several that I startled. But some practically posed for me, or at least stood and gave me a long stare.

In contrast to the Hematite trail, this one was well-signed, with posts that clearly pointed the direction and name of the trail choices you had, and with mileage markers to let you know how much further you had to go.

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