With beautiful shoreline vistas, huge trees and relics of the past, the Hillman Heritage Trail at Land Between The Lakes is a great place to explore. If you love hikes with a twist of history, this trail system is right up your alley.
Located in Hillman Ferry Campground, portions of the trail follow a long-abandoned road that once carried old cars, wagons, and horses to the Tennessee River at Hillman Ferry. The old road opens to an small bay of Kentucky Lake with a sandy beach and a gorgeous array of eroded limestone rocks.
One of the first historical markers along the trail shows where the Pinnegar Store once stood. The property contained two homesites with two cisterns, two smokehouses, four sheds and a barn.
The trail winds around the former Vogle property, where you can see the remains of a home belonging to Louis A. Vogle. The Vogles were the founders of the nearby Star Lime Works community and operated a lime mining operation.
Along the trail, a large overgrown pit provides evidence of the limestone mining operation. This high-quality lime was shipped all over the region, conveniently located right next to the Tennessee River. Later on this pit would become a holding pond for a major quarry operation with TVA.
Around 1939, when the construction of Kentucky Dam began, TVA (the Tennessee Valley Authority) used the limestone in this area to help build the dam. The large quarry dug out by TVA is today known as “The Rock Quarry” or the “Party Cove”, and is a popular place for boaters to gather during the summer months.
The Hillman Heritage Trail touches the shoreline at the Rock Quarry and can be easily accessed when the lake isn’t too high.
Along the trail you’ll discover a couple of mysterious concrete structures, including a tunnel that slopes underground near the Rock Quarry. Workers digging out the quarry in the early 1940s used an intricate system of conveyors and hoppers and this tunnel was a part of that system.
Accessing the Hillman Heritage Trail
If you love history and love beautiful hikes, the Hillman Heritage Trail is a must-see. We recommend taking the hike outside the summer months when Kentucky Lake is lower. Also, if you want to hike these trails, you’ll need to either camp at Hillman Ferry Campground or register as a guest at the campground’s gatehouse.
For folks who want to hike but aren’t staying at the campground, there is a small parking area near the gatehouse that will add a few minutes to your journey. The friendly staff at Hillman Ferry Campground will get you registered for free.
After registering, you might want to take a photo of the colored map on the sign at the trailhead. This will help you navigate the trail system better than the black-and-white paper map the staff gives you.
Please remember to leave no trace! Pack your trash out, don’t deface any of the historic artifacts and try to leave things better than you found them.