Home to record-setting trout and abundant fly fishing, gorgeous state resort parks, and one the largest waterfalls in the Southeast, the Cumberland River is an outdoor lover’s destination for the best in water sports, leisure recreation and adventure.

Starting in southeastern Kentucky, the Upper Cumberland River flows though historic, culture-rich Appalachian towns into the Daniel Boone National Forest, where it crashes over the breathtaking 60-foot-high Cumberland Falls, known as the Niagara of the South and for the only moonbow in the Western Hemisphere. Above the falls, the Upper Cumberland River is fairly remote but offers mild rapids and fishing for channel catfish, smallmouth bass, spotted bass and walleye.

The Cumberland River winds from the falls into vast Lake Cumberland with its 65,000-plus acres held back by Wolf Creek Dam, home to a national fish hatchery. The Cumberland River below Lake Cumberland is considered one of the premier trout fishing destinations in the Southeast, with both Kentucky state-record 21-pound brown trout and 14.6-pound rainbow trout having been caught there. Also home to abundant walleye, sauger and oversized striped bass in both the main river and hatchery outflows, this is a top destination for boat fishing, shoreline fishing and fly fishing. The Cumberland River’s smooth waters below the dam also offer ample open sections for kayaking, paddling and canoeing with moderately challenging shoals toward the lower end to test paddlers’ skills. As it leaves The Kentucky Wildlands, the Cumberland River passes yet another haven for outdoor recreation, Dale Hollow Lake.

For extended stays along the Cumberland River in The Kentucky Wildlands, you will find four state resort parks — Pine Mountain, Cumberland Falls, Lake Cumberland and Dale Hollow. Features of these beautiful getaways include historic and modern lodges, cottages, waterside dining, hiking, camping, boating, swimming and more.

Hidden Gems in the Kentucky Wildlands

Wayne County Museum

The identification, preservation, interpretation and promotion of Wayne County's...

Beattyville Canoe/Kayak Rentals

Canoe Rentals, Kayak Rentals, Shuttle Service! Call (606) 464-2707 or (606) 464-8797...

Paintsville Country Club & Golf Course

Established in 1929 the historic Paintsville Golf Course offers a unique and...

Worth Adding to Your Kentucky Bucket List


With more than 300 miles of bike routes, the Kentucky Trail Town of London resting on the outskirts of the Daniel Boone National Forest is considered the Cycling Capital of Kentucky.