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Cave Run Lake

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General Information

Description - Almost all of Cave Run Lake lies within the Daniel Boone National Forest boundaries. Established in 1937, the 706,000-acre National Forest covers portions of 21 Kentucky counties. Prior to Cave Run Lake’s construction, the U.S. Forest Service had significant land holdings in the area where the lake project now exists. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers acquired the remaining land needed for the development of the lake project. Under an agreement between the Corps and the Forest Service, the majority of the land acquired by the Corps was transferred to the Forest Service upon project completion. The Corps built the impressive earth and rock fill dam on the Licking River. The large concrete control tower on the upstream side of the dam acts like a drain for the lake. The tower has two large hydraulically controlled main gates and two smaller valve-controlled bypass pipes which control the amount of water released from the lake. The bypass pipes have intakes at different levels in the lake, permitting the dam to discharge water of various temperatures and qualities to provide downstream aquatic life and water users with a more suitable water supply. The northern-most section of the Daniel Boone National Forest surrounds the Cave Run Lake project and offers visitors many scenic, natural and historic points of interest. More than 300 species of birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles can be found in the hardwood-covered hills, forest openings, streams, ponds and caves of this scenic National Forest. Picnic areas, boat launching ramps, well-developed campgrounds and modern marinas border Cave Run Lake. The Minor E. Clark Fish Hatchery, located off Kentucky Highway 801 (below the dam) is one of the largest state-owned, warm-water fish hatcheries in the nation. The hatchery produces between three and four million fingerlings annually, which are released into Kentucky’s lakes, rivers and suitable streams. The varieties of sport fish presently produced are largemouth bass, small mouth bass, muskellunge, striped bass (rockfish), hybrid striped bass and walleye. The hatchery’s water supply is provided by Cave Run Lake from an intake structure on the control tower for the dam.

Attractions - There are two modern marinas on Cave Run Lake, the Scott Creek Marina and the Longbow Marina. The U.S. Forest Service has several campgrounds in the vicinity of Cave Run Lake. These campgrounds include the highly developed campgrounds within Twin Knobs and Zilpo Recreation Areas, the semi-improved Clear Creek Campground, the primitive Clay Lick (Boat-In) Campground and the White Sulphur Horse Camp. Other facilities incude; Bangor Boat Ramp, Beaver Creek Boat Ramp, Blackwater Boat Ramp, as well as four picnic areas managed by the U.S. Forest Sevice.

Recreation - Cave Run Lake offers its visitors a wide variety of quality outdoor recreation opportunities in one of the most picturesque settings imaginable. Reflected in the clear water of this attractive lake are the scenic wooded hills of the Daniel Boone National Forest. Camping, swimming, fishing, boating, hiking, sightseeing, hunting and picnicking are just a few of the recreation activities offered at Cave Run Lake.

Climate - This state experiences a temperate climate with nearly 50 inches of rainfall annually. Thirteen inches of snow is an annual average in Kentucky. There are four distinct seasons here with summer temperatures reaching 90 degrees F frequently in July and August. Low summer temperatures dip near 70 degrees F at night. Winter high temperatures often reach 45 degrees with lows dipping below freezing. Spring and fall are particularly pleasant seasons in which to visit Kentucky. Fall months are the driest. The humidity levels in the state average near 54 degrees throughout the year. The humidity during the winter months averages somewhat higher.

Location - The lake is located within the scenic Eastern Highlands Region of Kentucky and is almost completely surrounded by the northern-most section of the Daniel Boone National Forest. The dam is located near the small community of Farmers, Ky., 10 miles west of Morehead and 60 miles east of Lexington. From London, KY: Start out going north on I-75 N - toward Lexington, Ky. Take the KY-627 exit- (Exit 95) - toward Boonesborough/Winchester. Turn right onto KY-627. Turn left onto KY-627 north/Maple Street south. Merge onto I-64 East toward Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway/Ashland, Exit I-64 at the KY-801/Farmers-Sharkey exit (Exit 133). Turn right onto KY-801. Turn right onto KY-826. End at Cave Run Lake/Dam, 150 Kentucky Highway 826, Morehead, Ky. Distance is approximately 116 miles.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Filed By: Paige Kapelis (Cincinnati, Oh)
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: For the last ten years I have camped at Twin Knobs Recreational Area at Cave Run Lake. I always spend a week. They inforce their rules. facilites are well maintained and I always see wildlife. For the best camping I recommend to stay there during the middle of the week, or the month of June or September as the grounds are less crowded. I avoid holiday weekends as the lake and campground are extreamly busy but overall it is my favorite camping and hiking spot.

Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: We camped in the Zilpo Recreation Area of Cave Run Lake in the Daniel Boone National Forest, arriving on a Mon. and leaving on a Thu. Campground was virtually uninhabited. Our campsite sat upon a ridge aproximately 100' above the lake. Despite the unbearabley hot and humid conditions, the trip turned out to be very enjoyable. Bath-houses are well maintained. We spotted wild turkey, lizards, albino skunks and birds of prey during our stay. The lake was somewhat murky due to recent storms. We enjoyed the peace and quiet of this secluded loclale in the foothills of the Appalachians.

Filed By: randy robinson
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: family from this area.hunted and fished before and after dam was built.one of the nices areas in the state.not over developed yet.best hunting,hiking,and fishing in state.

More Information

Contact Information:
Cave Run Lake, 150 KY 826 , MOREHEAD, KY, 40351-9211, Phone: 606-784-9709

Additional Information:
Kentucky Lakes And Reservoir -


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