Nolin River Lake, Kentucky, USA

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

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Nolin River Lake visitor and community guide

Tucked into the hills of south central Kentucky, 5,795 acre Nolin River Lake shares residence among Edmonson, Grayson, and Hart counties. Created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1963 by impoundment of the Nolin River, the reservoir provides flood control and some of the best recreational opportunities in the surrounding area.

The Corps of Engineers reduces the lake level in winter to prevent flooding in the spring. The lake is 39 miles long with 172 miles of shoreline at summer pool, with an elevation of 515 feet above sea level. The winter pool level is 490 feet above sea level, reducing the lake’s acreage to 2,890. Its maximum depth is about 100 feet at the dam; the average depth ranges from 30-40 feet. Danger buoys mark shallow areas and other navigational hazards.

The lake is home to three campgrounds which offer waterfront, woodland, and primitive digs, depending on your style. Dog Creek Campground has 70 campsites and boasts electric and water hookups, disabled access, waterfront views, and even a special swimming area. Moutardier Campground is nestled into the hills of Edmonson County and offers 167 campsites, water and electric hookups, disabled access, and a path to the waterfront. Like Moutardier, Wax Campground is also snuggled up to the Kentucky hills, offering a path to the shoreline for its 110 campsites that offer electric and water hookups, disabled access, and a boat ramp. Nolin River Lake is about 20 miles north of the largest known cave system in the world, Mammoth Cave National Park.

Boaters love the accessibility of Nolin River Lake, offering over 25 public use boat ramps. Three marinas dot the shores, providing full services such as gas, fishing gear, picnicking supplies, and the ever-important boat rental. If boating appeals to you, rent a boat and head out onto the clean, cool waters of this secluded reservoir.

Fishing is a specialty of the lake, and the resident bluegill, channel catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, walleye, and white bass promise to make your day worthwhile. You can choose to fish off of your boat or enjoy one of the three public fishing piers constructed by the Corps of Engineers, each located at the same recreation areas as the above mentioned campsites.

Perhaps the biggest draw of Nolin River Lake is the notable absence of all things commercial. Coming to the lake is your chance to escape from the everyday, and all visitors can’t help but enjoy the intense sights and sounds of the nature that surrounds them. Take a hike on the lake’s Shady Creek Trail to get a backstage look at the beauty of Kentucky. As you snake through the upland hardwood forest, you’ll come face-to-face with wide-eyed deer, squirrels, and a variety of other animals that make their home here.

Nolin River Lake is the place that the world forgot: with no need to tune out car horns, ignore city lights, or answer the incessant ring of the telephone, a few days here will be just the break you need.

Custom Nolin River Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Nolin River Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • National Park

Fish species found at Nolin River Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • White Bass

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Nolin River Lake

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Nolin River Lake photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Nolin River Lake statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

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

Surface Area: 5,795 acres

Shoreline Length: 172 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 515 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 490 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 560 feet

Average Depth: 35 feet

Maximum Depth: 100 feet

Water Volume: 170,140 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1963

Drainage Area: 703 sq. miles

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