Our commitment is providing a safe environment for forest users. We want you to have a positive experience during your visit. The rules, regulations, orders, and other important information posted in or near recreation sites, trailheads, and forest boundaries are for your safety and protection. We encourage you to be aware of potential safety hazards and unforeseen dangers. Nature can be unpredictable at times, but you can take precautions to ensure that your visit is a safe one. Safety is a personal responsibility.
We ask that you take the time to read the information and abide by the regulations.
Wildlife Dangers including tick information
In addition to the normal hazards you'd expect in an outdoor environment, please be aware that there are a few man-made hazards. One of the most common is vehicle break-ins.
Park your vehicle in a safe place. If you intend to leave your vehicle while you explore, you will need to leave it somewhere safe, especially if you decide to spend the night on the trails. You may park your vehicle at North or South Welcome Station, Golden Pond Visitor Center, the parking lot at Fort Henry, or the "Snack Shack" across the from the Administrative Office. Please be aware that if you leave your vehicle at Golden Pond Visitor Center, the gate is locked from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. You should also let someone know (the facility staff or the Law Enforcement Office) where you will be leaving your car and for how long.
Lock any valuables in your trunk. If the thief can't see valuable items in plain site, he or she may move on to another vehicle. It is easier to break into a window than into a trunk to gain access to valuables.
Never leave a note on your vehicle telling when you will return. Give this information to a neighbor or friend. Thieves will be more inclined to break into your vehicle if they know how long you will be gone. We also recommend informing the staff at North Welcome Station, South Welcome Station, or Golden Pond Visitor Center of your whereabouts if you are visiting during business hours.
Do not rely on cell phones for safety! Cell phone service is patchy in LBL, and in the event of an emergency you may not be able to phone for help. Make sure you are aware of the facilities surrounding you that may assist you in the event of an accident or emergency.
Always tell someone when you are leaving for a trip, where you are going and when you plan to return. In the event of an accident, it is important that someone knows where you are. TrailNote.com is a free online alert system that allows you to get there and back safely.
Please be careful on the roads! When driving on back country roads, please use caution. Watch out for farm equipment, animals, and other people and vehicles. Due to road construction on US 68/KY 80, there may be large rocks and debris on the main road. Be cautious when driving and watch out for workers and equipment. Please pay attention to reduced speed limit signs and lane shifts.
Please remember that your safety is your responsibility.
About Law Enforcement and Investigation (LE&I)
Law Enforcement is an integral part of the overall management of LBL. Law Enforcement personnel, line officers, and appropriate staff ensure that prevention, investigation, enforcement, and program management requirements are fully integrated into all National Forest System resource management programs. LE&I staff provide a 24-hour presence to deter crimes against persons and respond to emergencies at LBL. In addition, you may contact (877) 861-2457 to report any crimes or emergencies.
Law Enforcement personnel operate as full partners within the Forest Service organization in carrying out the agency's mission, especially in upholding federal laws and regulations that protect natural resources, agency employees, and the public. Accomplishment of the Forest Service Law Enforcement mission is a product of trust, cooperation, and collaboration between Law Enforcement personnel and other agency employees.
The Law Enforcement and Investigations organization is an integral part of the Forest Service, recognized as leaders in public and employee safety, natural resource protection, and as a professional cooperator with other law enforcement agencies. The Forest Service Law Enforcement organization is a diverse workforce committed to integrity, responsibility, and accountability.
To serve people and protect natural resources and property within the authority and jurisdiction of the Forest Service.
- Protect the public, employees, natural resources, and other property under the jurisdiction of the Forest Service.
- Investigate and enforce applicable laws and regulations which affect the National Forest Service System.
- Prevent criminal violations through informing and educating visitors and users of applicable laws and regulations.
Being outdoors in hazardous weather is dangerous. Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, droughts, snow and ice, and occasional flooding are common in this area. It is important to be aware of what precautions to take in the event of hazardous weather.
- Being outdoors in a thunderstorm is the most dangerous place to be. If you see lightning or hear thunder, seek shelter indoors or in a covered vehicle.
- If you cannot find shelter indoors, it is better to be in the forest. If possible, take shelter under a grove of small trees. Make sure to avoid the taller trees, as lightning strikes the tallest objects.
- If you are above the tree line when a thunderstorm approaches, descend quickly. Get to the lowest point possible.
- If you are in an open field, seek the lowest point and crouch down. Never lie down or spread out, but try to make yourself as small as possible.
- NEVER swim in a lake or pond during a thunderstorm. Boaters and fishermen should get off the water as soon as possible and seek shelter. If you cannot make it off the water, crouch low and wait for the storm to pass.
- Drop all metal objects such as golf clubs, fishing poles, umbrellas, etc.
- Never pitch a tent near taller trees or metal poles. Electric lightning storms can occur during the summer months.
- Get off motorcycles, bicycles, and off highway vehicles and seek shelter.
- Don't return to an open area too soon, as it is still possible to be struck by lightning after a storm passes.
Droughts are common in the summer, especially in the late summer months of July and August.
- Droughts often encourage the spread of wildfires, so be aware of the risk of campfires; never leave a campfire unsupervised, even for a short hike.
- Campfires should be contained only in designated fire rings and should be kept small.
- Take precautions when using gas or propane grills, lanterns, or stoves.
- Never throw a cigarette out the window or in the grass. Always use an ash tray.
- Carry plenty of drinking water, even if you're just out for a day hike. Droughts are common in the summer, and it's easy to get dehydrated quickly.
The January 2009 ice storm did immense damage to the forests of Kentucky. Precarious branches and old trees can pose a potential hazard.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Avoid dense areas of damaged trees or hanging limbs, as trees may fall at any time.
- Stay out of the forest when there are strong winds. Wind has the potential to break limbs and blow down trees. If you are already in the forest, find a clearing and get out quickly.
- Park your vehicle close to a main road to avoid being trapped in the event that a tree falls.
- Listen for any cracking, breaking, or popping noises; this is a sign that a tree is about to fall.
- Observe any closure signs in the area; if you are unsure about whether an area is safe, do not enter that area.
- Never build a campfire near hanging branches or under a tree. Campfires can get out of control, and all it takes is a spark to start a wildfire.
- Always look up while on trails, especially when there are strong winds; keep an eye out for potentially hazardous trees.
How to spot a hazard tree:
A "hazard tree" is a tree with a structural defect that is likely to fall at any given time. Here are some ways to spot a hazard tree:
- Numerous fallen trees or branches in the area
- Leaning trees
- Dead or broken tops and/or hanging limbs
- Absence of needles, bark, or limbs
- Rotted trees indicated by numerous woodpecker holes, broken tops, downed limbs, "cat faces" or tree scars caused by fire, basal scars, and ants.
Tornadoes are common in this area, especially in the spring and late summer months when the weather changes often. They are very dangerous. It is important to know the signs of a tornado and what to do in the event that one occurs.
Signs a tornado may occur:
- Tornadoes do not only occur during a thunderstorm. They often occur during weather changes, such as a cold or warm front. If the weather forecast shows a front moving in, keep an eye on any developing storm systems.
- A persistent rotation in the cloud base indicates the possibility of a tornado.
- A funnel formed in the clouds is the easiest way to spot a developing tornado.
- A dead calm followed by heavy rain or hail is common right before a tornado occurs.
- A loud rumble resembling the sound of a train is typically what a tornado sounds like.
What to do if a tornado occurs:
- If possible, find shelter indoors away from glass windows. At developed campgrounds, the bathroom or shower facilities may be the best option.
- If no indoor shelter is available, find a ditch or low-lying area and lie down, or crouch low next to a sturdy structure. Cover your head, face, and neck with your arms to avoid flying debris.
- If you are in a car, get out quickly and find shelter indoors or in a low-lying area outside. Never try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle; tornadoes can change direction quickly and easily lift up a car or truck.
Be aware of the potential for flooding during a tornado.
Land Between The Lakes provides a natural habitat for many varieties of wildlife, including animals that may potentially be dangerous. With the exception of those animals that may be hunted during approved hunting seasons, wildlife is protected in LBL. Venomous snakes, coyotes, bobcats, smaller mammals, and a variety of other wild animals roam freely in LBL's open lands and forested areas. Most of these animals are rarely seen by humans, and attacks are uncommon, but you should still be aware of the possibility of encountering dangerous wildlife. Here are a few tips to remember:
- White-tail deer are numerous in LBL. The potential to hit a deer with your vehicle is great. Keep this in mind while driving, especially at dawn or dusk. Deer can be unpredictable and may run into the road unexpectedly. Deer often travel in groups, so if you see one, there may be more. In 2007, there were 2,917 deer collisions in Kentucky.
- There are often stray dogs and other animals in LBL. When found, the majority of these animals are rescued and rehabilitated. Never approach a stray animal. They are often aggressive and can cause serious injuries. If you find a stray dog or other stray animal in the area, contact any LBL facility.
- Never approach wild animals. Wild animals are often scared of humans, and they may attack. Some may carry rabies, so it is best to admire them from a distance. If an animal responds to your presence, you are too close.
- Never assume a baby animal needs help. Here at LBL, all animals are in their natural habitat and will react instinctively. If you see an injured animal, please contact any LBL facility, or call (877) 861-2457.
- Never feed wild animals! Feeding animals interferes with their natural habitat, can cause complications in animals' health and digestion, and may result in serious injury or death to both people and animals.
- There are four types of venomous snakes in LBL, and their bites can be life-threatening. When camping, keep tents closed and camping gear off the ground. Keep an eye out for snakes on the ground or in water while hiking or swimming.
- Elk and bison roam in an enclosed prairie, and they can be very dangerous. In order to protect our wildlife and our visitors, it is prohibited to walk into the prairie. Keep pets on a leash or in a vehicle, and keep a safe distance from the prairie's fence.
- It is fairly uncommon to spot larger animals such as bobcats and coyotes in LBL. If you do happen to run across a larger animal, keep your distance. More than likely, they will not approach you, but there is a possibility; they are instinctive hunters.
In the event of a deer collision, move your vehicle to the side of the road and call Law Enforcement. Do not touch the deer; if it is still alive, it may injure you in an attempt to get away.
Insects are present in every natural habitat, and they are often difficult to see. Chiggers, ticks mosquitoes, and various other insects are densely populated in LBL. Mosquitoes and ticks are abundant during warm seasons and may carry diseases such as Lyme disease, Malaria, and encephalitis. Chiggers live in tall grass and although they do not carry any known diseases, their bites cause extreme itching and can become infected. It is wise to use insect repellent spray while hiking or camping.
Prevention is the best way to avoid getting bitten. Following a few common tips can lower the risk of getting bitten and contracting disease.
- Apply insect repellant when you're outdoors. Apply DEET to skin and Permanone to clothing and gear.
- Wear loose fitting clothes to help prevent mosquitoes and to retain less heat.
- When possible, wear long sleeves, socks, and long pants.
- Wear colors that blend in with the background. Mosquitoes are attracted to color contrast and movement.
- Avoid applying perfume, cologne, fragrant hair spray, and scented lotions and soaps. Mosquitoes are attracted to sweet fragrances.
- Reduce exposure by staying indoors during peek mosquito feeding hours (from dusk until dawn).
- Avoid lingering in places where mosquitoes lay eggs, usually in standing water.
There are dozens of different spiders in the forest, but only the pose a serious threat - the brown recluse and the black widow. They both have very distinguishing characteristics; the brown recluse is brown with long, skinny legs, and a design on its back that resembles a violin; a black widow is black and shiny with long legs and a very prominent red hourglass shape on its abdomen; female black widows are typically much larger than males. Both spiders like to hide in dark, dry places, and black widows often hide out in their characteristically messy web. Their bites are usually not deadly, but still very dangerous. Brown recluse venom deteriorates the flesh, and black widow venom attacks the nervous system. It is often difficult to tell if you have been bitten without seeing the spider, so you should know how to identify the symptoms of a venomous spider bite.
- Symptoms of a brown recluse bite typically develop two to eight hours after a bite, and include severe pain at the site, severe itching, nausea, vomiting, fever, and muscle pain. The bite starts as a mild red bump and usually heals completely within about two weeks; more serious bites will result in inflammation, blistering and blue discoloration, ultimately leading to a necrotic lesion and scarring. Bite victims should see a doctor for serious symptoms.