As one of the largest and most visited lakes in the eastern United States—encompassing six different counties in Kentucky, spanning 65,000-plus acres of lush nature— Lake Cumberland remains a year-round playground for visitors and locals alike.
What was originally constructed as a dam in the 1940s for flood control, is now a thrilling vacation destination and recreational hub of The Kentucky Wildlands. With more than 1,200 miles of federally protected shoreline, Lake Cumberland's forested landscape and clean, fresh waters attract adventurers looking for a bounty of on and offshore activities. Even those just looking for some R&R will find it on Lake Cumberland.
Lake Cumberland State Parks
Considered one of the finest fishing and boating areas in the country, Lake Cumberland visitors can explore two state parks. General Burnside Island State Park in Burnside, KY is uniquely positioned on an island in the middle of the lake and includes an 18-hole golf course, a 102-site campground and a six-lane boat ramp.
Meanwhile, Lake Cumberland State Resort Park in Jamestown, KY offers endless natural beauty, premium lodging and outdoor adventures galore, including sandy beaches, tennis, disc golf, geocaching and hiking trails.
Houseboat Capital Of The World
Renowned as the Houseboat Capital of the World, Lake Cumberland offers world-class boating opportunities and is home to the largest fleet of rental houseboats in the U.S. Rent from a variety of marinas located on the lake, including Lake Cumberland State Dock Marina, Lake Cumberland Marina, Lee’s Ford Resort Marina, Safe Harbor Jamestown Resort & Marina, Beaver Creek Resort, Wolf Creek Marina and Safe Harbor Burnside Marina.
Beyond houseboats, discover a water enthusiast’s paradise full of jet-skiing, tubing, wakeboarding and swimming. Don’t own a watercraft? Lake Cumberland features a variety of boating rentals including pontoons, fishing boats and ski boats, as well as watersport excursions through local tour companies.
Record-Breaking Fishing on Lake Cumberland
If you’re a fishing enthusiast, Lake Cumberland is a must. The state-record 58-pound striped bass was reeled in here, and 40- and 50-pounders are caught regularly. Known for its abundant striped bass, trout and crappie fishing, Lake Cumberland is also full of rockfish, walleye, bluegill and four other bass species.
Plentiful fishing spots can also be found along the Cumberland River below Wolf Creek Dam, which is recognized as one of the nation’s top fly-fishing areas for rainbow and brown trout. Plan a visit to Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery for a unique and educational fishing experience.
Keep in mind that state fishing licenses are required. Purchase your license online here.
Hiking Trails Near Lake Cumberland
Take in breathtaking sights atop the mile-long landmark Wolf Creek Dam and along the scenic hiking trails circumventing the natural shoreline, where bald eagles are frequently spotted.
Enjoy the tranquil sights and sounds of the lake and forestry as you trek along two Lake Cumberland State Resort Park trails: Lake Bluff Trail, a four-mile loop around Lure Lodge, and Baugh Branch Trail, a 1.5-mile one-way trail that leads to a lake overlook.
Birding At Lake Cumberland
Lake Cumberland is also a popular destination for birdwatching. Pack a pair of binoculars and be on the lookout for raptors and water birds. American Kestrel, coopers hawk, red-tailed hawk, barred owl, great horned owl and screech owl can be spotted year-round.
If you’re visiting in the warmer months, look for cardinals, eastern bluebirds, goldfinches, hummingbirds, pileated woodpeckers and tufted titmice, among other species. In the fall and winter months, you might see belted kingfisher, great blue heron, green heron, whip-poor-will and wood and mallard ducks. Keep your eyes peeled for wild turkey and turkey vultures as you explore the park as well.
Golfing Near Lake Cumberland
With some of the finest courses in The Kentucky Wildlands, golfing is the perfect way to dry off on land from all the wet-and-wild watersports in the lake.
Book a tee time at one of the best public golf courses in the state. Bring your clubs and play a round of 18 at the award-winning course at General Burnside Island State Park. Designed by course architect Brian Ault, this 6,394-yard waterfront course offers stunning Kentucky scenery.
If you’re traveling with the kids, Lake Cumberland State Resort Park offers all kinds of family fun. Try your hand at the park’s disc golf course, head to the Lake Cumberland Farmers Market, catch a dirt track race at Lake Cumberland Speedway or play a round at the 18-hole miniature golf course.
Up for a challenge? The park is also home to many geocaches. Put on your adventurer’s cap, grab your GPS and start caching.
Or pack your favorite grub and enjoy a laid-back day at one of the picnic areas, which feature grills, picnic tables and playgrounds for the kiddos. Picnic shelters are available for rent at both state parks.
How about a tennis match? Visitors will find tennis courts near Lure Lodge. Bring your racket and gear up for some friendly competition. Need equipment? Tennis gear is available for check out for lodge guests.
Lodging & Campgrounds at Lake Cumberland
One of the best ways to experience Lake Cumberland is by camping it. General Burnside State Park features a 75-acre campground with beautiful views, open from mid-March through mid-November. The campground features utility hookups and two service buildings with restrooms and showers. Book your site today by calling 606-561-3625.
Lake Cumberland State Resort Park is home to the 63-room Lure Lodge. Overlooking the lake, the lodge features amenities like a year-round indoor pool, Wi-Fi, pet-friendly rooms and the lakeside Rowena Landing Restaurant. The park also offers 29 cottages, 29 year-round primitive sites and 46 RV sites with utility hookups. Book your room or campsite today.
Located at the midpoint of the main lake, Cumberland Point Recreation Area hosts 30 primitive campsites with many vistas to catch a breathtaking sunset. Kids can play on the large playground with an adjoining horseshoe pit while the adults hang at the open picnic shelter.
Have a specific type of accommodation in mind? Numerous hotels, homes, cottages, cabins and campgrounds provide lodging options on or near the lake to suit any taste.
Plan Your Lake Cumberland Getaway
Need help planning your Lake Cumberland, KY trip? Depending on which part of this vast lake you want to anchor at and spend your time exploring, you can find more information to help plan your trip from the websites below:
- Lake Cumberland Tourist Commission
- Lake Cumberland, Somerset-Pulaski County Tourism
- City of Burnside
- Monticello-Wayne County Chamber of Commerce