Laurel River Lake, Kentucky, USA

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

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Laurel River Lake visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - South - Kentucky - Daniel Boone Country -

Laurel River Lake was created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1974 to provide flood control and hydroelectric power to its neighboring areas, but has also become a sought-after vacation destination. Sharing shoreline with the state’s Daniel Boone National Forest, the lake straddles Laurel and Whitney counties in southeastern Kentucky, stretching out over 5,600 acres with 192 miles of shoreline.

Laurel River Lake is a deep water lake over 19 miles in length. Its maximum depth is 280 feet at the dam, with an average depth of 65 feet. Normal summer pool elevation is 1015 feet above sea level. The Army Corps of Engineers reduces the lake level in winter to prevent flooding in the spring. The average winter pool elevation is 982 feet above sea level.

Laurel River Lake boasts an unparalleled natural beauty, and one of its most unique draws is its cliff-lined shores. Steep, jagged rocks seemingly disappear into the lake’s clear depths, providing picture-perfect photo ops and scenery you’ll never forget. Of course, one of the best ways to see the cliffs is by boat, and you’ll have access to the waters from any of the lake’s eight boat launch ramps.

Boating takes on a life of its own here and is one of the premier ways to catch sight of the lake’s varied wildlife. The lake is home to wintering bald eagles; Canada geese are year-round residents. White-tailed dear stop by the shoreline for a drink of clean lake water, and painted turtles make their way through the trees. Head away from the shores and give the engine a little juice to enjoy the lake at a higher speed.

Laurel River Lake provides excellent fishing for black bass, smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, walleye, crappie, bluegill, and catfish. The lake is known as the “rainbow trout mecca” in Kentucky. Winter months produce rainbow trout catches of four to six pounds.

Swimming is a favorite pastime at the reservoir, and sunbathers are invited to spread their towel on the sands of the public-access beach. Swimmers often choose to don scuba gear to take advantage of the clear waters and high visibility to investigate the lake’s submerged rock formations. And when everyone gets a bit hungry, you know it’s time to head to the nearby picnic tables before heading back out for more swimming, splashing, and floating.

Nature lovers feel right at home here, as the lake enjoys a prime location inside the Daniel Boone National Forest. Over 94 miles of trails meander through forest, perch atop cliffs, and drop hikers off at secluded campsites. Taking one of these trails is like being sent back to at time when Kentucky was an unexplored frontier, home to pine trees and animals that had never seen a human face.

Laurel River Lake is a place to escape and enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature. Complete your fun-packed day by watching a painted sunset reflecting off the waters.

Custom Laurel River Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Laurel River Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Scuba Diving
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Forest

Fish species found at Laurel River Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Laurel River Lake

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Laurel River Lake photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Laurel River Lake statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

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

Surface Area: 5,600 acres

Shoreline Length: 192 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,012 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 982 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,018 feet

Average Depth: 85 feet

Maximum Depth: 280 feet

Water Volume: 435,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1974

Drainage Area: 282 sq. miles

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