On your way to Reelfoot Lake – a place of beauty, you discover Walnut Log. Walnut Log…a town along the banks of Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee, is a place you decide to go to – on purpose. It’s not “on the way”. Once having left the main highway, watch for signs to make the next turn, then the next several after that. Having arrived in Walnut Log, you’ll recognize it by the broken down boat house on the right side of the road, and the small church up on the left. Having passed these landmarks, you’re pretty much alone in the midst of Cyprus swamp. But more about that later.
Reelfoot Lake – A Place Of Beauty
For me, the solitude of Walnut Log is my favorite place on the lake – but it is only a small portion of what the lake has to offer. In years not too distant past, the road leading out to the overlook was a gravel roadway leading through cypress trees and dense forest. Today, though paved and much easier to access, there are still abundant opportunities to slow down and observe wildlife throughout the drive.
Reelfoot Lake is located in both Lake and Obion Counties of Tennessee. It is probably as much swamp as lake with the dense underbrush, grasses and Bald Cypress Trees growing in the lake.
There is a legend that the lake was formed when an Indian Chief with a deformed foot became angry and stomped his foot. He being called Reelfoot, was therefore the one who by this stomping caused a great quake on the land. The Mississippi flowed into his foot imprint, thus forming Reelfoot Lake. Probably the more plausible explanation, and the one found in historical documents is that the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1911-12 caused the Mississippi River to flow backward for a brief period of time. This flooded the earths natural depression and has remained to this date, the Reelfoot Lake. Reelfoot Lake is the only large natural lake in the state of Tennessee.
Reelfoot Lake State Park has much to offer. Just a one-time visit will not give you the ability to appreciate all that is available to see and experience. One portion of the park is designated as a National Wildlife Refuge. To see the hundreds of water fowl lift off in unison at various seasons, and weather conditions is amazing. Throughout the park you will see large numbers of American Bald Eagles. If you have not experienced sightings in the wild, there is nothing to compare to the experience that awaits you here at Reelfoot. January and February are the best time for sightings – the colder, the better.
At the Interpretative Center, and the museum, you’ll meet knowledgeable rangers who will answer your questions, and treat you to one-on- one encounters with some of the native creatures of the lake. There are miles of hiking trails, boardwalks, and opportunities for scenic boat tours out into the swamps.
Fishing, bird-watching, kayaking, boat tours, camping – Reelfoot has it all, but for me, it’s far more.
Wonderful Place for Families, and School Field Trips
The Historic Spillway that helps keep the water level balanced
Reelfoot Lake – a place of Contemplation
Though today the road has been paved; during the eight years I frequented this quiet sanctuary, the road was a “trail” with dust and potholes – not heavily traveled. It was to this place I regularly fled to perch high on the Observation Deck at the end of the road.
Here under the canopy of Cyprus trees overlooking the lake and surrounded by the sounds of hundreds of birds, I drew inspiration from Gods’ creation, and from His Word. This was one of those places I believe David would have written about when he admonished us to “be still and know that I am God…” (Psalm46:10 KJV). It was on the walk down that woodsy road where I would commune with God, praise Him for Who He is, thank Him for all He is, and ask direction for my life. This was one of those unique places where I could lift my voice aloud and pray for my children, call out my deepest heartaches, and express my most secret dreams.
Today, hundreds of miles removed from Walnut Log,Tennessee, I have but to look at the picture to recall the spiritual battles and victories fought and won so many years ago, along this road.
Do you have a photograph that calls you back to a place of worship? Have you visited Reelfoot Lake? How about the local restaurants? Have you tasted the fare at Boyettes, Lakeview, or the Blue Bank? Makes my mouth water just thinking of the taste of locally caught and prepared fresh fish.