Upper Bear Creek Reservoir, Alabama, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Alabama - Mountains -

Also known as:  Upper Bear Reservoir

Tucked away in the Mountains Region of northern Alabama, Upper Bear Creek Reservoir awaits visitors with trophy sized bass fishing, boating, swimming, jet skiing, camping and picnicking. Canoeists and kayakers can enjoy the 30 mile, Class I floatway from the Upper Bear Creek Dam to the headwaters of the Bear Creek Reservoir. For visitors just looking to relax, check out the area canyons with waterfalls and rare plants, along with parks that are great for hiking enthusiasts. Nature lovers will find tree roots clutching boulders instead of growing underground, alongside azaleas, hemlocks, and rhododendron.

Upper Bear Creek is one of four reservoirs in the Bear Creek watershed which also includes Bear Creek, Little Bear Creek, and Cedar Creek. Located near the town of Bear Creek, Upper Bear Creek Reservoir is the second largest of the four Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) reservoirs operated by the Bear Creek Development Authority. Also known as Upper Bear Creek Lake, these four dams provide flood control, water supply, and recreation in northwest Alabama.

Upper Bear Creek Reservoir is a great choice for your next fishing trip or family get-a-way with something for everyone. This destination is far enough away from civilization to rejuvenate, but close enough that you don’t spend the whole trip getting there.

Upper Bear Creek Reservoir was impounded in 1978, but the history of the area goes back thousands of years as Native Americans had settlements here. The rich soil, rivers and wildlife provided a home to the Cherokee and Chickasaw Indian Tribes who remained in the area until the 1800’s when Alabama became a state and settlers began to take over the lands. The settlers used the lands mostly for farming and nearly all the industry that came in was just to support the local population. The Confederate draft put light on a big issue during those years, as residents of the area had varying opinions about the Civil War. Many people supported the Union instead of the Confederacy and did not favor secession. After the war, rural electrification and transportation modernized the area to some degree and led many to more urban areas to seek employment instead of remaining self sufficient on farms. However, independence and individualism are prevalent sentiments to this day along with a strong sense of identity with the local community.

Today, plenty of fun, relaxation, and activities can be found at Upper Bear Creek Reservoir, but the name of the game at this lake is the trophy bass fishing. The lake is often very clear, and black bass, both largemouth bass and spotted bass, are readily available. Other species include smallmouth bass, crappie, catfish, and bream. Anglers regularly come away with bass double or more in size than the state average, usually weighing five pounds or more. Upper Bear Creek Reservoir has a high ratio of large bass to small bass, which can be caught most readily at night. Boat ramps are located at Twin Forks Campgrounds as well as Quarter Creek, Batestown and Mon Dye. Consumption of fish from these waters, however, is not advised without consulting the Alabama Department of Public Health for specific information.

For activities out of the water, the Bankhead National Forest, Twin Forks Campgrounds and Sipsey Wilderness are nearby, as well as a golf course less than an hour away. The Bankhead National Forest provides all kinds of outdoor activities including camping, hunting, horseback riding and ATV riding. Wildlife and bird watching are also very popular, as is hunting the flora and fauna of the area. Due to the large expanse of forest, many rare species are found here that are uncommon or can’t be found elsewhere in the country. The Sipsey Wilderness provides over 80 miles of trails to enjoy the scenic beauty of the area. Waterfalls and canyons can be found along the way, along with towering limestone cliffs lining the banks of the Sipsey River. For camping, Twin Forks Park includes the regular camping amenities plus three baseball fields, a sand volleyball court and an outdoor basketball court along with a playground for the kids, outdoor covered stage with electricity, and picnic areas.

Real estate and vacation rentals are a bit harder to come by around the Upper Bear Creek Reservoir or in the rest of the Bear Creek Lake system. Most of the land is undeveloped and highly regulated by the TVA. Camping is the favored style of accommodations for the area. Getting there is easy on visitors, however, with Upper Bear Creek Reservoir being located about an hour and a half from either Birmingham or Huntsville-Madison County International Airports.

Things to do at Upper Bear Creek Reservoir

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Forest
  • Playground

Fish species found at Upper Bear Creek Reservoir

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Spotted Bass

Upper Bear Creek Reservoir Photo Gallery

    Upper Bear Creek Reservoir Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: TVA, Bear Creek Development Authority

    Surface Area: 1,850 acres

    Shoreline Length: 105 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 797 feet

    Average Depth: 14 feet

    Maximum Depth: 70 feet

    Water Volume: 37,400 acre-feet

    Completion Year: 1978

    Drainage Area: 115 sq. miles

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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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