Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  What is the average elevation and temperature of Lake Cumberland?

A:  The normal pool elevation (summer pool) is 723 feet above mean sea level.  This elevation is near the tree line around the lake.  Throughout late summer and fall, the water levels drop due to summer weather patterns, hydro-power generation and normal evaporation.  The opposite occurs during the winter and spring seasons.  The maximum recorded elevation was 756.51 in the Winter of 2019.  The surface water temperature during the summer months range from 78 to 83 degrees and 40-45 degrees during the winter. 

Q:  What is the deepest part of the lake?

A:  The deepest part of Lake Cumberland is 200 feet at 723’ pool elevation and is located in the original river channel near the dam. 

Q:  What Rules and Regulations govern the land and waters of the lake?

A:  The Rules and Regulations governing public use of the Corps of Engineers water resources development projects are found in Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations.  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 Rules and Regulations is available at the Lake Cumberland’s Natural Resource Management Office.

Q:  I live adjacent to the lake and want to know where my property ends and public property begins?

A:  The public property line is referenced with yellow paint on trees.  Boundary line signs are also present in some areas.  The painted trees are not the actual property line, but indicate on which side of the tree the property line is located.  When you build or purchase a home adjacent to public property, please be sure that you know where the exact boundary is.  It is the responsibility of each adjoining landowner to know the exact location of his or her property lines and corners.  Information on the property lines can be obtained by visiting the Natural Resource Management Office.  If you have a question pertaining to the line, a ranger will be glad to meet with you on-site.

Q:  Am I allowed to cut, trim, underbrush, or maintain trees and other vegetation on public property?

A:  No.  These types of activities are expressly prohibited unless the activity is covered under a previously grandfathered landscaping permit.  No new landscaping permits are being issued.  Existing landscaping permits become null and void once the original permittee no longer owns the property.  Individuals who obtain adjacent property from a permit holder must allow the public property to return to its natural state.  Cutting of trees, destruction of public lands and properties, and vandalism is a federal offense.  Help us protect these resources for long-term enjoyment and future generations.

Q:  Am I allowed to place a private dock on the lake?

A:  As of January 11, 1995 the entire shoreline of Lake Cumberland was converted to a “Protected Shoreline” status.  Applications for new dock permits are no longer accepted in accordance with the Lake Cumberland Shoreline Management Plan dated May 2, 1994.  All private docks with a current permit are allowed to remain on the lake under a grandfather clause.  This means that the Resource Manager will honor all existing permits for private docks unless the structure presents a safety hazard, the permittee fails to comply with the conditions of the permit, or the District Commander revokes the permit when the public interest necessitates such revocation.

Q:  Is hunting allowed on the public lands that surround Lake Cumberland?

A:  Yes.  Hunting, fishing, and trapping are permitted except in areas prohibited by the District Engineer.  These prohibited areas include developed recreation areas such as day use areas and campgrounds, lease areas, marinas, etc.  All Federal, State, and local laws governing these activities apply on Lake Cumberland and the surrounding public land.

Q:  Can I place brush, Christmas trees, etc. in the lake for fish attractors?

A:  Yes, however you must coordinate this activity through a Ranger and obtain a Specified Acts Permit (free of charge) with guidelines.  You may not cut live vegetation for fish attractors unless written permission is given.  Man-made attractors may be approved by contacting the Natural Resource Management Office at (606) 679-6337.

Q:  Where can I ride my ATV?

A:  You may NOT  ride an ATV, off-road vehicle, motorcycle, or other motorized vehicle anywhere on Corps of Engineers property that encompasses Lake Cumberland.  The U.S. Forest Service has several authorized ATV trails located in adjacent counties to the lake.  You may contact their office at (606) 376-5352 for more information.

Q:  Do I need a permit to primitive camp on the shoreline or the islands?

A:  No, but you must camp at designated areas.  There are no reservations available to these sites; they are first-come, first serve.  Also, please do not leave fires unattended, gather only dead wood for burning and pack out all trash associated with your camping trip.  To obtain a primitive camping map you may contact the Natural Resource Management Office at (606) 679-6337 or view it on our primitive camping page.  


Q:  Can I use my metal detector around the lake?
A:  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 or 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:  Does Lake Cumberland have a Visitor Center?  

A:  Yes!  We are located at 855 Boat Dock Road Somerset, KY.  Take Highway 27 South to red light  #29 and turn left onto Boat Dock Road.  Travel approximately .7 of a mile to the Natural Resource Management Office on the right.  We are open Monday through Friday 7:30 A.M – 4:00 P.M. Eastern Time, except Federal Holidays.  For more information, call (606) 679-6337.   

Frequently Asked Questions

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