Frequently Asked Questions



Q:  What is the average elevation and temperature of Center Hill? 

A:  The ordinary high water mark (summer pool) is 648 feet above mean sea level (msl). During the fall draw down, the lake elevation has reached a minimum elevation of 620 feet msl. The maximum recorded elevation is 684 feet msl. The average surface water temperature is 75 degrees with the warmest recorded temperature of 90 during the month of July and the coolest temperature of 32 during the month of January. 

Q:  What is the deepest part of the lake?

  The deepest part of Center Hill Lake is the original river channel along the face of the bluffs near the dam at 195 feet.

Q:  When do I need a primitive camping permit?

  When shoreline camping on Center Hill, you must acquire a primitive camping permit and be camping within a designated primitive camping area. House boaters who are not involved in camping activities do not need a primitive camping permit nor do they need to locate adjacent to a primitive camping area. Since there are a limited number of designated primitive campsites on Center Hill Lake, houseboats should not use these sites for moorage if primitive campers occupy the sites.


Q:  Can I have a campfire on the shoreline of Center Hill?

Criteria for campfires are specifically outlined in Title 36, The Rules and Regulations that Govern Corps of Engineers Water Resource Projects. Title 36, Section 327.10 states that "Fires shall be contained in fireplaces, grills, or other facilities designated for this purpose."  Therefore, fires on the open shoreline, including pits constructed of shoreline rock, are not permitted. Portable grills and chimneys are permissible. Furthermore, "Fires shall not be left unattended and must be completely extinguished prior to departure."  Gathering of dead wood on the ground for use as firewood is permitted; no live vegetation is to be cut. Only campfire wood is to be burned, and all burned debris and portable grills must be removed and cleaned up upon departure. 


Q:  What is Title 36 and how can I obtain a copy? 

  Title 36, amended May 5, 2000, contains the Rules and Regulations that govern public use of Corps of Engineers water resource development projects. Visitors are bound by these regulations. A fine may be issued to violators of not more than $5,000 or imprisonment for not more than six months or both. A copy of Title 36 Regulations is available from the Resource Manager's Office. An on-line version is provided at the Government Printing Office’s Site.


Q:  If I access a Corps of Engineers Day Use Area from the water, do I have to pay the day use fee? 

Yes. Day use fees are charged at Hurricane Bridge, Floating Mill and Ragland Bottom Recreation Areas. Day use fees apply to any user of the facility whether they arrive by vehicle or boat.  At Floating Mill and Ragland Bottom, the fee is $5 per vehicle per day regardless of type of use or size of group. At Hurricane Bridge the fee is $5 for those using the boat launching ramp. A $40 annual pass is available for purchase from each of the Corps managed recreation areas as well as from the Resource Manager's Office.


Q:  Can hunt on Government property? 

  Yes, in general, hunting is permitted on Government Property during regulated hunting seasons. Areas where hunting is not allowed include developed parks and recreation areas, commercial marinas, and areas close to private residences. 


Q:  Can I have Fireworks? 

A:  No. Fireworks, along with explosives, firearms and other weapons are prohibited on Government Property. Detailed information can be found in Title 36, The Rules and Regulations that Govern Corps of Engineers Water Resource Projects, Section 327.13.


Q: Can I use my metal detector around the lake?

That depends. According to an official memorandum of policy from the Directorate of Civil Works and dated March 10, 1989, metal detectors are allowed under certain conditions. The use of metal detectors will be allowed on public beaches or other previously disturbed areas, that do not contain or would not reasonably be expected to contain archaeological, historical, or paleontological resources. Nonidentifiable items, such as coins of nominal value ($25.00 or less) do not need to be deposited with the natural resource manager or ranger. Identifiable items (rings, watches, etc.) or items of greater than nominal value will be deposited with the natural resource manager or ranger. Digging shall be limited to hand tools that can be used by one hand only. Hand tools shall be limited to 4 inches wide and 12 inches long. All trash uncovered must be removed and placed in an approved trash receptacle. All soil disturbed or displaced shall be returned to its original state. In addition, we would ask that any such approved use of metal detectors take place during times when it will not interfere with the public's recreational use of an area, i.e. not on busy weekends at beaches and recreation areas.


Q:  Where can I tie up my houseboat? Are there any restrictions on houseboats?

  You can tie up your houseboat just about anywhere on Center Hill's 415 mile shoreline unless posted or restricted.  Areas where you are prohibited from tying up your houseboat include the face and adjacent areas of the Dam and developed recreation areas/concession fee areas and any area posted "No Houseboats."  Vessels may not be tied or anchored in such a manner as to prevent or obstruct, or appear to prevent or obstruct access to any portion of the lake.  The bow of your vessel must not be tied more than 25 feet from the shore.  Your vessel shall not be tied across any embayment or tributary that is greater than 100 feet in width at the stern of the vessel.  Vessels on Corps of Engineers managed lakes are not to be used as full or part-time residences and are to be removed from project lands and waters (or moored or stored at designated areas approved by the District Engineer, e.g. commercial marinas) unless they are in actual recreational use.


Q:  Can I use metal fence posts, tires or modified docks to moor my boat?

  No.  Title 36, The Rules and Regulations that Govern Corps of Engineers Water Resource Projects, Section 327.20, Unauthorized Structures states that the placement of any structure, including, but not limited to, docks, of any kind upon project lands or waters is prohibited. Devices driven into the ground, such as metal fence posts, to assist with moorage are also prohibited. History has shown that such items are usually left behind and become a hazard to boaters and swimmers during periods of high water. Tires and old carpets continue to litter our shoreline and are undesirable. Portable rubber mats, floats, and anchors are permissible forms of moorage devices. All moorage devices must be removed from project waters upon departure. 


Q:  If I purchase property on Center Hill Lake, can I cut trees for a view to the lake or have a personal boat dock?  

A:  The Center Hill Lake Shoreline Management Plan provides policies and guidelines for the effective long-range management and protection of entrusted natural resources. These public lands are managed like our Nation's National Parks; allowing the shorelines and forested hillsides to remain untouched in their natural state. All private floating facilities and other private exclusive use privileges are prohibited. Destruction of public lands and properties, cutting of trees and vandalism are federal offenses. Help us protect these resources for long-term enjoyment by "taking only pictures, and leaving only footprints."