Herrington Lake, Kentucky, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Kentucky - Bluegrass Region -

Meandering 32 miles across the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky is Herrington Lake. The first large impoundment in Kentucky, Herrington Lake was created in 1925 by damming the Dix River three miles above its joining with the Kentucky River. Kentucky Utilities created the reservoir to generate hydroelectric power and owns the entire lakeshore up to 760 feet elevation. The entire shoreline above that elevation is privately owned and partially populated with year-round homes, summer cabins, fish camps and resort areas. Hydropower generation at the site is now sporadic, with a coal-fired generating plant and a combustion turbine for peak power generation. Hydroelectric is now generated only during extreme high-water situations.

Herrington Lake has had a reputation as one of the best fishing locations in Kentucky for many years. Bluegill, catfish, crappie, hybrid striped bass, largemouth bass, spotted bass and white bass call serious anglers to its eddies and inlets. On-going stocking programs keep the lake supplied with just the right balance of fish to keep fishermen happy. Most experienced Herrington Lake anglers have their favored hot spots for striped bass – usually around the inlet creeks of Cana Run, Rocky Fix, McKechnie Creek or the two islands, Gwinn and Dunn. Others take their boats into the Dix Dam tail waters to try for some of the biggest lunkers.

Fishing is not the only reason summer visitors come to Herrington Lake. The expanse of water lends itself to all types of boating, sailing, water skiing and personal watercraft. Pontoons and houseboats are popular on the lake and local marinas rent both, along with smaller water craft. Generations come back to the same local resorts year after year and camping is popular at more than one location on the lake. A sizable amount of the shoreline is undeveloped and provides fine viewing opportunities for local wildlife and birds. Two large no-wake areas provide for quiet shoreline exploring by canoe or kayak. Many vacation rentals have swimming areas for their guests along with campfire pits and overlook areas atop the bluffs. Increasingly, summer cottages and fish camps are being remodeled into upscale year-round homes. Two golf courses along the shoreline guarantee off-water time can be pleasantly spent. The residential lanes around the lake provide easy cycling and walking opportunities. Several marinas offer not only boat launch and dock facilities but convenience items and restaurants. At 29 miles from Lexington and 37 from Richmond, Herrington Lake is close enough to be in the middle of everything, making it the ideal get-away destination.

This proximity to Lexington makes day trips away from Herrington Lake an easy vacation adventure. Known as the horse capital of the world, Lexington is surrounded with both horse farms and thoroughbred-themed activities. Venues such as the American Saddlebred Museum and the Aviation Museum of Kentucky vie for visitors’ attention with locations such as Waveland Plantation State Historic Site, the Mary Todd Lincoln House, and The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky. Rich in early American history, Lexington is well-supplied with Arboretum, Nature Preserve, wineries and the arts. Between Herrington Lake and Lexington, the limestone cliffs of the Kentucky River Palisades tower 200 feet above the river. The palisades are especially breathtaking in autumn when the leaves take on their bright fall hues.

Even closer to Herrington Lake is the historic town of Harrodsburg. Founded in 1774 as the first permanent English settlement west of the Allegheny Mountains, Harrodsburg has preserved much of its frontier flavor for the enjoyment of visitors. Less than 10 miles west of the lake, Old Fort Harrod State Park takes the visitor back through time with restored buildings and interpretive tours. A bit beyond Harrodsburg, the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is a National Historic Landmark. Operated by the National Park Service, the site encompasses 2800 acres and 14 restored buildings filled with distinctive Shaker furnishings. Interpretive guides describe the life and religion of these unusual but devout people, including their musical ceremonies. Also on site, the visitor can take a river tour on the Dixie Belle paddle wheeler from Shaker Landing. Equestrian visitors are encouraged to ride the trails and lanes at Pleasant Hill.

Fifteen miles south of Herrington Lake, the City of Danville releases even more of the secrets of Kentucky’s long history. The 10 Constitutional Conventions that created the Commonwealth of Kentucky are preserved here in Constitution Square – a Kentucky State Park. A special treat for both big and little girls with a soft spot for doll houses, the Great American Dollhouse Museum occupies the old Armory building. This special exhibit contains many rare and antique miniatures arranged as a social history of early settlement through the present time. The highly detailed street scenes will also delight the men in the family if they are at all partial to antiques. The proprietor has worked with art students to create a fantasy-land exhibit with monsters and strange inhabitants that will immediately interest all young and young-at-heart. If you can drag the family away from the doll houses, Danville also provides tennis courts, a skateboard park, regulation disc golf course, and a public pool.

South of Danville, the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge beckons the nature lover. Located in the ‘Knob Country’ (sandstone knobs or outcroppings formed by erosion), tours and interpretive trails invite the visitor to get acquainted with the wildlife and native plants of the region.

After a long day spent exploring the mysteries of Kentucky, the visitor can head back to Herrington Lake for some quiet relaxation along the shore. By this time, visitors may decide to either schedule another week at one of the vacation rentals along the shore or seek more permanent lodgings: real estate is available for sale in several newer developments on the lake. Make Herrington Lake your home away from home or perhaps a more permanent address. Come visit soon!

Things to do at Herrington Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • National Park
  • Museum
  • Antiquing

Fish species found at Herrington Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Spotted Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish
  • White Bass

Herrington Lake Photo Gallery

Herrington Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Kentucky Utilities

Surface Area: 2,335 acres

Shoreline Length: 325 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 740 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 725 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 760 feet

Average Depth: 78 feet

Maximum Depth: 249 feet

Water Volume: 537,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1925

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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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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