Holt Lake, Alabama, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Alabama - Metropolitan -

Also known as:  Holt Reservoir

Holt Lake is a 3,300-acre reservoir located about five miles northeast of the City of Tuscaloosa in west-central Alabama. Holt Lake is one of six lakes that comprise the 457-mile Black Warrior and Tombigbee Waterway (BL &W), a series of locks and dams constructed to improve navigation. The Waterway was an important transportation route for settlers and traders and played a major role in industrializing the region.

In addition to Holt Lake, the other reservoirs that comprise the Black Warrior and Tombigbee Waterway include Bankhead, Oliver, Warrior, Demopolis, and Coffeeville Lakes. Although the Waterway plays a major role in commercial transportation, the lakes also provide hydroelectric power, flood control, and diverse recreational opportunities. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed construction of the Holt Lake Lock and Dam in 1966, creating the narrow, winding lake that stretches for 18 miles along the Black Warrior River.

Holt Lake is best known for its boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, and camping opportunities. Anglers reel in abundant catches of largemouth bass up to 18 inches and spotted bass up to 15 inches. There is a 9-inch minimum length limitation on crappie catches to protect young crappie. Drum, catfish, buffalo, hybrid striped bass, largemouth bass, and spotted bass are common in the headwaters of Holt Reservoir below Bankhead Dam.

For off-water fun, the Army Corps of Engineers operates a Visitors Center and several day use parks at Holt Lake: Burchfield, Blue Creek, Deerlick Creek, and Rocky Branch Parks. The parks offer boat ramps, swimming beaches, picnic areas, bank fishing, playgrounds, hiking trails, and campsites ranging from primitive camping to full electric and water hookups. Campers should make reservations in advance.

The walking trails at the Holt Lake parks are a big attraction. The scenic trails vary in difficulty from gently sloping hills to steep grades. They are a good place to spot bald eagles that visit the lake from November to February.

The Rocky Branch Trail is one of the longest (3.5 miles round trip) and more difficult trails with some steep grades. The Gobbler Ridge Hiking and Bicycle trail is a half-mile paved loop trail. This trail is an easy jaunt with benches to take in beautiful views of the river and gorges. Wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy the food plots that attract animals and tree identification markers. The Beech Tree Hollow Trail is a mile loop located within the Deerlick Creek Campground. The trail starts and ends at the head of the Gobbler Ridge Trail with moderate to difficult terrain on the lower half leading to the gorge.

Holt Lake’s climate is mild in winter months, rarely dipping below 40 degrees. Spring brings warmer temperatures and precipitation that beget beautiful spring blooms. Temperatures during summer can reach above 100 degrees with afternoon thunderstorms.

The wilderness feel of Holt Lake belies its proximity to Tuscaloosa, a city of about 90,000 residents. This population balloons when school is in session, and Crimson Tide football takes center stage. Vacation rentals are available in the Tuscaloosa area, but be sure to book ahead if there is a home game. The University is also home to two museums, the Alabama Museum of Natural History and the Paul W. “Bear” Bryant Museum, named after the school’s legendary football coach. The Murphy African-American Museum and The Hands-on Children’s Museum of Tuscaloosa are located downtown. The Westervelt Warner Museum of American Art is located on the grounds of North River Yacht Club in northern Tuscaloosa.

The Holt Lake area offers fun for the entire family with a mix of back-to-nature activities and urban culture.

Things to do at Holt Lake

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Playground

Fish species found at Holt Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Spotted Bass
  • Striped Bass

Holt Lake Photo Gallery

    Holt Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

    Surface Area: 3,296 acres

    Shoreline Length: 65 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 187 feet

    Average Depth: 36 feet

    Maximum Depth: 85 feet

    Water Volume: 117,990 acre-feet

    Completion Year: 1969

    Lake Area-Population: 4,102

    Drainage Area: 4,232 sq. miles

    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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