Cave Run Lake

Quick Facts

Cave Run Lake

Kentucky

(606) 784-9709

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Cave Run 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. An earth and rockfill dam built across the Licking River created Cave Run Lake. The dam is located near the small community of Farmers, KY, 10 miles west of Morehead and 60 miles east of Lexington. The 8,270 acre Cave Run Lake is most widely known for its outdoor recreation opportunities, excellent fishing and scenic beauty. However, the lake project was constructed primarily for the purpose of reducing flood damage. The Corps of Engineers operates and maintains the dam and three day-use recreation areas near the dam. The remaining recreation areas are under the jurisdiction of the Cumberland District of the U.S. Forest Service.

Map of Cave Run Lake

Latitude, Longitude: 38.094579, -83.491287

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Activities

  • Boating

    There are two modern marinas on Cave Run Lake, the Scott Creek Marina and the Longbow Marina. Visitors to Cave Run Lake will be required to purchase a pass to use certain Forest Service boat launch parking areas and ramps. The passes can be purchased at the U.S. Forest Service Visitor Center on Kentucky Highway 801 South and from many commercial vendors in the lake area.

    During the construction of Cave Run Lake, a plan was formulated that departed from the usual practice of cutting all the trees below the summer pool elevation of the lake. Trees were left standing in several areas of the lake to provide enhanced habitat for fish and other aquatic life. The submerged trees are partly responsible for the lake's excellent sport fishery. However, boating in these areas requires caution as many of the submerged trees may not be visible above the lake's surface.

  • Bicycling

    The Daniel Boone National Forest provides more than 600 miles of developed forest trails. In addition to hiking opportunities, many of the National Forest trails are open to mountain bikers. A large number of the National Forest trails are located in the vicinity of Cave Run Lake. Only one National Forest Trail in the lake area is open to all-terrain vehicle use. The Corps of Engineers maintains a 0.6-mile interpretive trail near the Corps Office at Cave Run Lake. This foot-trail is called the Barrel Spring Interpretive Trail and has signs providing information about the natural and historical features encountered along the route.

  • Camping

    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. Twin Knobs and Zilpo Campgrounds are open seasonally. For a backcountry camping experience, primitive camping is permitted within the Daniel Boone National Forest. However, campers must set up campsites at least 300 feet away from water's edge, roads and trails except at designated camping sites.

  • Fishing

    Cave Run Lake supports good populations of muskie, largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish. The latest state record muskie was taken from Cave Run Lake. This and other near-record catches have established Cave Run Lake as one of the most productive muskie lakes in the Southeastern United States. Creel and length limits are in effect for certain fish species.

  • Hiking

    The Daniel Boone National Forest provides more than 600 miles of developed forest trails. In addition to hiking opportunities, many of the National Forest trails are open to mountain bikers. A large number of the National Forest trails are located in the vicinity of Cave Run Lake. Only one National Forest Trail in the lake area is open to all-terrain vehicle use. The Corps of Engineers maintains a 0.6-mile interpretive trail near the Corps Office at Cave Run Lake. This foot-trail is called the Barrel Spring Interpretive Trail and has signs providing information about the natural and historical features encountered along the route.

  • Historic Sites

    There are many options for historic and cultural touring in the Cave Run area. Some of the highlights include the 148 foot Cave Run Dam, the historic Clear Creek Iron Furnace--an iron smelting furnace built in 1837--and the Tater Knob Fire Tower, the only fire tower left in Daniel Boone National Forest. Additionally, Red River Gorge Geological Area near Slade, KY contains more than 50 natural stone arches, unusual rock formations and uncommon species of plants.

  • Hunting

    The National Forest lands in the vicinity of Cave Run Lake support good populations of deer, wild turkey and a variety of small game and furbearer species of wildlife. Even though visitors may be within the National Forest proclamation boundary, there are pockets of private land within that boundary. Abide by posted "No Hunting" and "No Trespassing" signs. Permission from the property owner must be obtained prior to hunting on private property. There are also locations within the Daniel Boone National Forest where hunting is not permitted.

    Adjoining Cave Run Lake is the 7,610-acre Pioneer Weapons Wildlife Management Area. The Pioneer Weapons Area offers hunters an opportunity to pursue wild game as Native Americans and early settlers did in the past. Hunting in the Pioneer Weapons Area is limited to bow and arrow, crossbow and muzzle-loading firearms. Hunting with modern, breech-loading firearms is prohibited in the Pioneer Weapons Wildlife Management Area.

  • Picnicking

    There are two picnic shelters located in the Tailwater Recreation Area below Cave Run Dam. These shelters can be reserved for family reunions, weddings and other special group events. Each shelter can accomodate about 60 persons. Drinking fountains, grills, picnic tables and electric service are available at the shelters.

  • Water Sports

    There are two beaches operated by the U.S. Forest Service at Cave Run Lake. One located inside the Twin Knobs Recreation Area and the other in the Zilpo Recreation Area. For additional information about the two beaches, visit the U.S. Forest Service's, Swimming Beaches web page. The beaches at the Twin Knobs and Zilpo Recreation Areas are scheduled to be open from May 14th through August 30th. However, high lake levels could delay the beach opening dates or close the beaches during the swimming season. Hours of operation are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Swimming, wading, snorkeling or scuba diving at one's own risk is permitted, except at boat launching sites, designated mooring points and public docks, or other areas so designated by the District Commander.

Directions

Driving

From Lexington, drive 60 miles east with primary access off I-64 exits 123, 133 and 137. The dam site is located on KY 826 via US 60.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(606) 784-9709

Campground reservations

(877) 444-6777

Links