Center Hill Lake, Tennessee, USA

Also known as:  Center Hill Reservoir

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Center Hill Lake.

If you’re considering Center Hill Lake vacation rentals, we’ve made it super easy to explore accommodations and nearby hotels using the interactive map below. Simply click on a listing to compare similar properties, best rates and availability for your dates. Or keep scrolling to read our Center Hill Lake guide!

Center Hill Lake visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - South - Tennessee - Middle -

Center Hill Lake is almost completely surrounded by the beautiful hardwood forested hills of the Tennessee Eastern Highlands. Center Hill Lake has 18,000 acres of boating, fishing and water recreation with over 400 miles of shoreline. It is an outdoor recreation jewel with over 20 boat ramps and seven marinas. Three state parks afford great camping, hiking, swimming, wildlife viewing, boating, water sports and many other enjoyable relaxation activities. Located just 60 miles from Nashville, Tennessee, Center Hill Lake is a perfect location from which to visit this country music capital and ‘see the sights’. Three very scenic waterfalls complete the picture of a wonderful vacation retreat.

Center Hill Lake was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1938 and Harbor Act of 1946 primarily for flood control and power generation. Construction of Center Hill Dam was completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1948 and a wonderful recreation lake was created. The dam construction is part of the control of water resources in the Cumberland River Basin and impounds the Caney Fork River – it is an important prevention of flooding of Carthage and Nashville. Three 45,000 kilowatt turbines produce clean electricity for Tennessee citizens.

Center Hill Lake is a popular angler’s paradise with largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, Kentucky bass, bream, crappie, catfish, bluegill, white bass and walleye as fishing attractions. The lake’s fishing attractiveness is evidenced by a number of fishing tournaments held there. The 415 miles of shoreline offer many coves, inlets and other sites for the intrepid angler. The lake is open and used year round.

In the early 1900s, before dam constructions, the many streams and Caney River were home to freshwater mussels yielding freshwater pearls of great beauty and durability. The pearl was named Tennessee’s official state gem in 1979.

Boating and water sports are favorite pastimes on Center Hill Lake. The numerous marinas are full service locations with slips, food, fuel and boat rentals. Houseboat rentals are a favorite and many families spend a few days finding quiet locations to swim, fish and just plain relax.

There are hundreds of campsites and cabins available in the three state parks and at some marinas. Hiking is another outdoor activity in most of these. For the geocaching aficionado, there are over 15 caches in a ten mile area (many more outside this) to find and log. Get your GPS unit out and find a few.

Center Hill Lake has something for everyone – boating, fishing, hiking, biking, swimming and just the pure outdoor enjoyment of nature make this a ‘must do’ in Tennessee.

Custom Center Hill Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Center Hill Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Camping
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park

Fish species found at Center Hill Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • White Bass

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Center Hill Lake

The Center Hill Lake map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

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Center Hill Lake photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Center Hill Lake statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: US Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 18,220 acres

Shoreline Length: 342 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 648 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 618 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 685 feet

Maximum Depth: 195 feet

Water Volume: 492,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1948

Lake Area-Population: 3,994

Drainage Area: 2,174 sq. miles

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