This site is dedicated to Turkey Bay Off Highway Vehicle Area in Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. It is
truly a great place to "wheel."
Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area (LBL, as I will call it from this point forward) is administered by the
U.S. Forest Service, after having been handed over to them in 1999 by TVA. It is located in western Kentucky between
Barkley Lake and Kentucky Lake.
The Tennessee River and the Cumberland River run parallel to one another and are separated by only a few miles
in western Ky. When the dams were built to create Kentucky Lake on the Tennessee River and Barkley Lake on the Cumberland
River, the remaining land between these rivers that had not been flooded became LBL.
Turkey Bay OHV Area is located just south of Hwy 68 on "The Trace," which is the main north-south road through LBL. Once
you cross either Barkley Lake or Kentucky Lake on Hwy 68, depending on the direction from which you enter LBL, just
go south on the Trace about two miles. The entrance to Turkey Bay will be a right turn as you are going south on the Trace.
Turkey Bay has 2000 acres of great terrain for wheelin'. It consists of heavily wooded hills and hollows, with narrow,
twisty, rocky trails that are lots of fun to run.
There are gullies or ravines that twist and turn and can present a real challenge.
There are mud holes for those who like mud, but I am not a fan of mud and avoid it when I can.
You can drive right down to the gravel shores of Kentucky Lake, which is the western boundary of Turkey Bay OHV area.
There are trails near the lake that climb ridges, go down the opposite sides, wind around coves, and repeat the process
for the succeeding ridges and coves. The lake is often in view as you run these trails.
I tried to find one picture to use here on the home page that would be representative of the wheelin' at Turkey Bay, but
because of the great diversity in the terrain, there was no single picture to be found that would serve that purpose. I just
picked one that I liked, and it shows Kentucky Lake in the background with my Jeep parked on top of one of the ridges near
They claim to have 100 miles of trails within Turkey Bay OHV Area, and I believe it. There are trails intersecting trails
and trails that fork and then fork again and again. It is almost impossible to learn every segment of every trail. As
many times as I have been there, I am still not totally familiar with each trail section.
You must be careful to check things out up ahead, if you are on an unfamiliar trail. Trails that start out with very easy
terrain can turn into something that you do not want to tackle, and there may be no good place to turn around.
This is especially scary when you start a steep climb and get near the top, only to find a rock ledge that is more
than you can handle, or trees too close together to allow you to continue. In many cases, a three point turn would
put you too far off camber, so you must back down a good ways.
It's best to go with someone who is familiar with Turkey Bay to serve as your trail guide. When I lead, I sometimes still
have to ask people to hang back until I check something out first. I will eventually know every foot of every trail, but I
am not to that point yet. Also, conditions can change, so a trail that might have been doable at one time can become impassable,
if a large tree falls across it, or if it has become more deeply rutted since your last run.
Most of the ridges have trails that run along the very top and trails that drop off from them and lead down into the hollow
below. You have to be sure what's down there before you commit! There could be a large tree across the trail just around the
corner and out of sight from the top, or the last three or four feet at the very bottom could be a straight drop-off.
Many of these descending trails are WAY too steep to allow you to back up. Just be careful, and check out the trail
ahead before you commit to anything. I don't want to scare anyone away, but I don't want anyone to get hurt, either. Common
sense will keep you out of most of the potential dangers.
From what I have just said, I think you can see the importance of communication on the trails. If the leader goes to check
something out, he is not going to want to turn around and come back to tell everyone whether or not they should go ahead.
A properly functioning CB radio is a MUST! They are just about the cheapest mod you will ever get for your Jeep, and they
can be worth their weight in gold.
There is terrain at Turkey Bay for the beginner in a stock Jeep, but there is also very challenging terrain for the more
experienced Jeeper with a built-up Jeep. It's important to know where you are going, so that you stay on terrain that you
are prepared to tackle.
Turkey Bay OHV Area is pretty much open every day of the year, but if you are driving a long way to get there, it would
be smart to call first to be sure they are open. If there has been a lot of freezing and thawing of the soil, they will
sometimes close Turkey Bay for a few days. If the water level is real high in the lake due to heavy rains, then at least part
of Turkey Bay would be closed. Call 270-924-2000 for up to date info.
The fees are very reasonable. They charge $15 for three consecutive days, and that is per vehicle, not per person.
If you think you will be going as many as three times per year, then the yearly pass for $45 is the way to go. These fees
do not include camping, although there are camp sites within Turkey Bay OHV Area.
You will find a link named "Kentucky Lake Info" on my "Links" page that will take you to a website with a LOT of info on
accommodations, local attractions, etc.
I now ask that you do me a favor and click on "People Between the Rivers" in the navigation bar above. There is a sad story
that you need to read concerning the former inhabitants of LBL. Please click on the link that you will find on that page,
and read the story of what happened to these people as told by one of them.