Upper Bear Creek Reservoir, Alabama, USA

Also known as:  Upper Bear Reservoir

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Upper Bear Creek Reservoir — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

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All About Upper Bear Creek 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

Find Places to Stay at Upper Bear Creek Reservoir

If you’re considering a Upper Bear Creek Reservoir lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Upper Bear Creek Reservoir Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Upper Bear Creek Reservoir lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Upper Bear Creek Reservoir Statistics & Helpful Links


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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