Grayson Lake, Kentucky, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Kentucky - Appalachians -

He tees up, shoulders square to the ball and swings. The ball sails down the fairway, past the clean, clear water and weathered sandstone cliffs. Any day spent playing golf is a good day, and adding a day on the lake only makes it better. Several lakes boast waterfront golf courses, but Grayson Lake is one of the only ones with a course that is also part of a state park. The views from Grayson Lake in the Kentucky Appalachians are uncommon as well. Sandstone cliffs rise from the shore of the lake to reach 150 feet into the air offering glimpses of the lake only the birds usually see.

Grayson Lake is a reservoir created by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Construction on the dam began in 1964, and by 1968 Grayson Lake had reached normal pool, its 1,510 acres spanning parts of Elliott and Carter Counties. The lake was created to provide flood control for the Little Sandy River. The addition of the state park two years later ensured it became a popular recreation destination as well. Established in 1970, Grayson Lake State Park encompasses 1,512 acres and a significant portion of the lake’s 40 mile shoreline. The state park includes a campground with tent and RV sites and miles of hiking trails. It is on land that was once considered a favorite camping ground for the Cherokee and Shawnee Indians that lived in the area. With its beautiful scenery and fantastic fishing, it is still a favorite with visitors today.

Anglers can challenge themselves against the abundant populations of spotted, large mouth, small mouth and hybrid striped bass in Grayson Lake. There are also black and white crappie, bluegill and both channel and flathead catfish. Some of the shoreline of Grayson Lake is accessible for fishing and there is good fly fishing on the portion of Laurel Creek that feeds Grayson Lake. Trout are stocked downstream from the dam. In addition to the boat ramp in the state park, there is a private marina with bait, boat rentals and access to Grayson Lake. The US Army Corps of Engineers maintains a fishing pier and boat ramp at the Damsite Recreation Area. The Damsite Recreation Area also includes a picnic area, visitor center, and the historic Horton / Kitchen Log House. Built around 1836, the two story log house is an unusual saddlebag design, and it is being restored.

The Grayson Lake Wildlife Management Area is open to hunting in season. Deer and turkey are prevalent as are ground birds including grouse and doves. Hunters may also find a variety of waterfowl. Horses are allowed in the wildlife area and there are equestrian trails. There are trails for hiking at the Laurel Gorge Welcome Center. Laurel Creek feeds Grayson Lake and has cut a canyon through the surrounding limestone. The welcome center includes an interpretive area and museum.

Grayson Lake is in the small town of Olive Hill. It takes its name, however, from nearby Grayson. The county seat of Carter County, Grayson was named in honor of Colonel William Grayson who served under General George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Its proximity to Carter Caves, Greenbo Lake, and Grayson Lake has earned it the nickname “The Heart of the Parks.” The Carter Caves State Resort Park is an easy day trip from Grayson Lake. Established in 1946, the park includes 2,000 acres of wet and dry caves and natural bridge formations. It is also home to large populations of bats. Both Olive Hill and Grayson have restaurants, a variety of accommodations including vacation rentals, and any amenity a visitor might need. There is also real estate for sale for visitor wishing to extend their stay in the Kentucky Appalachians.

Soaring limestone cliffs, fantastic fishing and some of Kentucky’s best golf combine to make any day at Grayson Lake a great day.

Things to do at Grayson Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Museum

Fish species found at Grayson Lake

  • Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Flathead Catfish
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • White Crappie

Grayson Lake Photo Gallery

    Grayson Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: US Army Corps of Engineers

    Surface Area: 1,510 acres

    Shoreline Length: 40 miles

    Completion Year: 1968

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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