Cordell Hull Lake

Cordell Hull Lock and Dam Project, Carthage, Tenn.

The Nashville District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers welcomes you to Cordell Hull Lake.  The lake provides a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities for millions of visitors each year.  Because of the temperate climate and relatively long recreation season, visitors have numerous activities from which to choose, including: fishing, hunting, camping, picnicking, boating, hiking, horseback riding and other numerous ways to enjoy nature.  

Cordell Hull Lake is named after one of America’s outstanding statesmen, Cordell Hull.  Cordell Hull was born in a log cabin in the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains.

Hull served in the Tennessee and U.S. House of Representatives and in the U.S. Senate.  He served as Secretary of State under President Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1933 to 1944 and negotiated the “Good Neighbor” policy toward Latin America.  He was largely responsible for the creation of the United Nations.  For his efforts towards promoting world peace and harmony, he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1945.

In recognition of his contributions to the people of the United States and the world, the Congress of the United States named this lake in honor of one of Tennessee’s finest.


Monday-Friday 7:30 AM - 4:00 PM

71 Corps Lane Carthage, TN 37030

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Links of Interest


Camping & Group Picnic Shelters
Registration Center hours are:
Mon. & Thurs. 11 am to 5 pm
Tues. & Wed. CLOSED
Fri. & Sat. 10 am to 7 pm
Sun. 12 noon to 6 pm

*If the Registration Center is closed when you arrive please select a non-reserved site and return to register for your stay during the hours listed above.

Defeated Creek Campground will open for the 2023 recreation season March 22 through November 12, 2022. The checkout time for this location has been changed to 2 PM, with check in remaining at 3 PM. Defeated Creek Park Campground sits along the banks of Cordell Hull Lake on the Cumberland River System, just seven miles from Carthage, Tennessee.

The campground offers 155 sites for tents and RVs, all with electric hookups. Two large group day-use shelters are also available, both with water and electric hookups. A boat ramp, playground, beach, and tennis and volleyball courts are all provided, making the area perfect for families or larger parties. A marina is located adjacent to the campground.

Salt Lick Creek Campground will open for the 2023 recreation season April 12 through October 8. Salt Lick Creek Campground is located on Cordell Hull Lake on the Cumberland River System, just 10 miles from Gainesboro, TN. The lake itself was named after one of America's outstanding statesmen and one of Tennessee's finest volunteers. Hull was born in a log cabin in the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains. The campground offers 150 family sites and one large, group day-use shelter, all with electric hookups. Amenities include flush toilets, showers, drinking water, laundry facilities, and a dump station.
The Corps of Engineers manages several picnic areas on Cordell Hull Lake.  Some shelters may be reserved (for a fee) up to 365 days in advance.  Reservations may be made through the National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS).  When a shelter is not reserved, it is available on a first-come, first-served basis.  Shelters are available for reservation from May 1 until September 30. To reserve a shelter, contact the National Recreation Reservation Service at 1-877-444-6777.

Cordell Hull Lake provides boaters with a wide variety of opportunities to enjoy their respective recreational interests.  The 11,960 acres of water offer an opportunity for all types of recreation.  Canoes, Sailboats, Fishing and Hunting Boats, Pleasure Boats, and Personal Watercraft all share the waters, so each boater has a responsibility to respect other boaters and practice good boating ethics and launching etiquette.

As the number of boaters visiting Cordell Hull have increased in recent years, the Corps of Engineers encourages visitors to wear life jackets, pay close attention at all times, abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages, and become familiar with the rules of the water and basic boating regulations. You may contact the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency concerning boating regulations and boating safety information.

Fishing & Hunting

Cordell Hull Lake, with 381 miles of shoreline and 22 boat-launching ramps, offers a fishing opportunity for anyone with or without a boat Tennessee state fishing licenses are required for most individuals prior to fishing on Corps of Engineers waters.  Licenses may be purchased at County Clerk's offices, marinas and many other commercial establishments in the area. For up-to-date fishing information, lake elevations, and generation schedules visit the Cordell Hull Facebook page. For the most up to date information on generation releases and lake levels, please visit: TVA's Lake Information or call 1-800-238-2264, press 4, then 37, then press the # key.

*Please note:  Water release schedules often change without notice due to unanticipated changes in weather conditions and power system requirements. Use caution near dams. A large amount of water may be discharged without warning at any time. Your safety depends on obeying all posted safety regulations and warnings. 

Approximately approximately 24,893 acres of Cordell Hull were licensed to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency as a wildlife management area to enhance the habitat and manage the wildlife resources. Many different types of wildlife can be spotted around the lake.  The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency also manages for all types of game species, including: White Tailed deer, wild turkey, waterfowl, Bobwhite Quail, squirrels, rabbits, and furbearers. The public may hunt on most Corps of Engineers’ managed public lands that are not developed recreation areas, are not leased to other entities, and are not designated as “No Hunting.” All State hunting rules and regulations apply. 

Scuba & Swimming

Scuba diving is allowed at Cordell Hull Lake. Divers must display a "Diver Down" flag in the area where they are diving. Boaters should be alert to the "Diver Down" flag and keep a safe distance away. 

Swimming on Cordell Hull Lake is one of the more popular water-based activities. Swimming is prohibited at launching ramps, mooring points, marinas, public docks, and posted areas. It is allowed elsewhere, but for safety's sake please swim only in specifically designated areas. These areas are much safer as they are off-limits to boaters of all kinds. They are surrounded by “restricted area” buoys and a floating orange pipeline.

The Corps of Engineers operates three such swim areas on Cordell Hull: Defeated Creek Day Use, Wartrace Creek Day Use, and Roaring River Day Use. These three areas have sand beaches and playgrounds and there is a nominal Day Use Fee of $5 per vehicle.

Pets are prohibited at Defeated Creek Day Use Area, as well as the sand beaches in all other locations. Defeated Creek and Salt Lick Creek Campgrounds include a sand beach for registered campers and their authorized visitors.


Bearwaller Gap Trail The 6 mile long Bearwaller Gap trail is located between the Scenic Overlook (Tater Knobb) and the parking lot at the Picnic Shelter at Defeated Creek Campground. To view a copy of the map click here.

Cordell Hull Lake Horseback Riding Trail The Horse Trails are located near the small community of Granville.  Directions: Take I-40 to the Carthage exit, then Highway 53 to Granville.  The trail entrance is beside the road, just past Granville.

Turkey Creek Nature Trail The ½ mile ADA accessible Mocking Bird Loop to the Turkey Creek Nature Trail is located between the Visitor’s Center and the Dam. 

Bear Wheels Mountain Bike Trail Three bike trails are offered: Bear Den which is a .68 mile bike trail, Black and Grizzly Bear trails which are both 3 miles. 

Cordell Hull Lake Announcements

Boundary Line Remarking - January 2022

A boundary line crew is targeted to start work early to mid January at Cordell Hull Lake.

They are remarking boundary line, from Cordell Hull Dam to Smith’s Bend.  Approximately 50 miles will be marked and signed.  Areas included are Defeated Creek, McClures Bend, and Brooks Bend.

Crew will be identifiable by their vehicle and a company shirt both stating “Envirosmart”.  If you have any questions you may contact the Resource Manager’s Office at 615-735-1034.


Additional Attractions