General FAQ

For questions about a specific lake, please use the Contact a Lake form or call the Resource Manager at the lake.
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A:  Center Hill Lake - 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. The deepest part of Center Hill Lake is the original river channel along the face of the bluffs near the dam at 195 feet.

Cheatham Lake - Surface water temperatures at the dam range from 36 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to 84 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. The water is approximately 40 feet deep at the dam. Lake levels are controlled to provide a navigable channel with a minimum depth of 9 feet all the way upstream to Old Hickory Dam. However, deeper areas are present along the high bluffs found throughout the lake.

Cordell Hull Lake - The average depth is 20.0 feet. The elevation of the lake varies from a winter low of about 499 feet above mean sea level to a summer recreation pool of 504 feet above mean sea level to a flood storage capacity of to a flood storage capacity of 508.0 feet above mean sea level. The warmest water temperature at Cordell Hull can get up to, 79 degrees Fahrenheit and the coolest temperature can get as low as, 33 degrees Fahrenheit. Do note depending on the location of the lake the temperatures will vary. The deepest part of Cordell Hull Lake is in the main river channel, just above the Power House at approximately 90’.

Dale Hollow Lake - The ordinary high water mark (summer pool) is 651 feet above mean sea level (msl). During the fall drawdown, the lake elevation has reached a minimum elevation of 632 feet msl. The maximum recorded elevation is 660 feet msl. The average surface water temperature is 64 degrees with the warmest recorded temperature of 84 during the month of July and the coolest temperature of 46 during the month of February. The deepest part of Dale Hollow Lake is the original river channel closest to the dam at 130 feet.

J. Percy Priest Lake - The average depth is 28.7 feet.  The elevation of the lake varies from a winter low of about 483 feet above mean sea level to a summer recreation pool of 490’ msl to a flood storage capacity of 504.5’ msl.  The average surface water temperature of the lake in 2001 was close to 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit.  The warmest temperature, 84 degrees, was recorded in late June and again in early August.  The coolest temperature, 35 degrees, was recorded in late January.  The deepest part of J. Percy Priest Lake is in the main river channel about 1/2 mile upstream of the dam at approximately 100’. 

Lake Barkley - The summer pool mark is 359 mean sea level (msl).  During the winter draw down the lake elevation mark is 354 msl.  The water temperature average is 45 to 65 during winter months and 70 to 80 during the summer months.

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

Laurel River Lake - The average depth is 65 feet.  The elevation of the lake varies from a winter low of about 1010’ feet above mean sea level to a summer recreation pool of 1015’ msl to a flood storage capacity of 1018.5’ msl. The deepest part of Laurel Lake is at the Dam at approximately 280’.

Martin’s Fork Lake - The average depth is approximately 12-15 feet.  The elevation of the lake varies from a winter low of about 1300 feet above mean sea level to a summer recreation pool of 1310’ msl to a flood storage capacity of 1341’ msl.  The average temperature of the lake in 2000 was close to 58 degrees Fahrenheit.  The warmest temperature, 84 degrees was recorded in mid-August and the coolest, 32 degrees, was recorded in early January. The deepest part of Martins Fork Lake is just upstream of the dam at approximately 45’.

Old Hickory Lake - Normal pool is 445 above sea level.

A:  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.

A:  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. 

A: Firewood Alert: Cordell Hull and Dale Hollow Lakes are included as a firewood quarantine area. When camping or picnicking at this recreation area, purchase your firewood from a vendor who sells certified heat-treated firewood. Don't bring non-certified firewood from home. To help prevent the spread of the Emerald ash borer and other forest pests, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is prohibiting firewood that is non-certified heat-treated firewood. Visit the Nashville District firewood policy, Firewoodscout.org or Dontmovefirewood.org for further information.

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.

A:  Yes. Day use fees apply to any user of the facility whether they arrive by vehicle or boat. Annual passes are available for purchase from each of the Corps managed recreation areas as well as from the Resource Manager's Office.

A:  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. 

A:  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.

A: 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 is 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.

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 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

A:   The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a responsibility for ensuring that properties of a cultural, historical, or traditional nature located on Corps lands are preserved and managed appropriately.  Removal of any artifact, prehistoric or historic, from Federal lands is a violation of both Federal regulations and Federal law.  Conviction for digging for artifacts can result in both substantial financial penalty which could be as much as a $250,000.00 and incarceration of up to five years.   It is all of our responsibilities to ensure that the cultural resources present on Dale Hollow Lake are protected.  To prevent the destruction of these sensitive resources and prevent possible prosecution, please leave any artifact found where you see it. 

A:  Each lake’s 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."

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.

Center Hill Lake FAQ

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Buffalo Valley Nature Trail Located 5 miles from Interstate 40 at the Buffalo Valley Exit No. 268 and adjacent to the Center Hill Lake Resource Manager’s Office, this trail provides river access to the Caney Fork and is a very popular access area for trout fishermen.  
Lost Springs Trail A two-mile stretch of scenic trail that loops above the Floating Mill Campground and Hurricane Marina, both located just off Highway 56, approximately 4 miles south of Interstate 40 at the Silver Point Exit (exit 273). 
Ye Ole Red Post Trail Almost two-miles long, the Red Post Trail is a very beautiful (but steep!) trail that loops above the Ragland Bottom Campground off Highway 70, approximately 8 miles east of Smithville and 12 miles west of Sparta. 

Cheatham Lake FAQ

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Lock A Nature Trail​ Nature Trail located in the Lock A Campground, will give you a sense of what it was like to live the life of a lockmaster.  As you wander through the site of the old homestead, inquire about what the river was like before the locks and dams we have today.  This property was used first by the workers constructing the old Lock A.  It was then occupied by the lockmaster, his family and lock workers, during the years of operation of Lock A.  Overall, the site has been a home to many people from 1895 through 1953, when the current lock replaced it permanently. The buildings consisted of living quarters, an icehouse, and several outbuildings. Several of the buildings’ foundations are still visible today. Other remnants of the old lock and it’s occupants are located throughout the campground, such as the road leading down from the living quarters, an old fire hydrant, mooring rings, steps, and water depth markers. 

Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail starts just west of Ashland City and ends at the Lock A Campground. This trail is open from sunrise to sunset and accommodates hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders, bird watchers, wildflower enthusiasts and all people with a love for nature. The trail, a “rails to trails” project, currently spans approximately 6.5 miles of an old railroad bed.

TSU Farm near Sams Creek an interpretive trail located near Sams Creek off of River Road. This ¾ mile trail takes visitors through native grasslands with local wildflowers planted along the trail and meanders through a forested area that ends at a viewing platform overlooking a wetland. Along the trail, viewers are likely to see a variety of songbirds, deer, and eastern wild turkey. At the wetland viewing area, visitors are presented with a unique opportunity to view turtles, fish, and other aquatic wildlife as they move through one of TN’s most unique habitats. This trail consists of a level gravel path and is great for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.

The lock is open to recreational craft at no charge. However, barge tows and other commercial vessels have priority. The lock is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A single lockage takes about 30 minutes.
The water is approximately 40 feet deep at the dam. Lake levels are controlled to provide a navigable channel with a minimum depth of 9 feet all the way upstream to Old Hickory Dam. However, deeper areas are present along the high bluffs found throughout the lake.
It's 42.3 miles to Riverfront Park at the foot of Broadway and 45 miles to the public boat launching ramp at Shelby Park. Heading downstream, it's 22.7 miles from the Lock and Dam to McGregor Park in Clarksville, Tenn. 
The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County provides the stadium dock for temporary, event-related use only. Demand for moorage on game days is very high, and a lottery is held to assign available spaces. To inquire about reservations and fees, call Metro's agent, Hamilton Creek Marina, at (615) 862-8472 before the month of June each year.
Red lights flash and a warning horn sounds prior to generation. Boaters must wear life jackets in the posted area below the dam.

Dale Hollow Lake FAQ

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Red Oak Ridge Trail Located 8 miles north of Celina, Tenn., off highway 53, Red Oak Ridge hosts 18 miles of beautiful and scenic trails developed for horseback riding. Click Here for a trail map of Red Oak Ridge.
Accordion Bluff Hiking Trail Accordion Bluff Hiking Trail is approximately 7.5 miles long one-way.  It is not a loop trail. The trail is an easy to moderate hike for the majority of the distance. Click Here for a trail map of Accordion Bluff.

J. Percy Priest Lake FAQ

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Lake record fish records are maintained at the J. Percy Priest Resource Manager’s Office.  Anglers applying for a lake record fish should request an application, and should have the fish weighed on a certified scale with two witnesses present.  Contact a representative with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to verify the species and weight of the fish. 

Three Hickories Nature Trail: This 1.6 mile long nature trail is located in a wooded area in Cook Recreation Area.
Anderson Road Fitness Trail: The trail is paved, more than a mile long and winds through a cedar glade area beside the lake.  
Twin Forks Horse Trail: Equestrians and hikers are welcome to use this 18 mile long trail that runs along the shoreline from Walter Hill Dam to Nices Mill Recreation Area.  The best access to the trail is at East Fork Recreation Area.

Trails maintained by other agencies:
Long Hunter State Park:  The Lake Trail around Couchville Lake is hard surfaced, barrier free, and is a self-guided nature trail. The Nature Loop Trail and Inland Trail located at the Couchville Area, and the Point Trail at Bryant Grove, are popular short walks. The 4 mile long Bryant Grove Trail connects Bryant Grove to Couchville. The Deer Trail is 1 mile long and located behind the Visitor Center. At the Bakers Grove Primitive Area, there is a 4 mile Day Loop Trail and the 6 mile one-way Volunteer Trail.  For more information visit the official Tennessee Long Hunter State Park website

Hamilton Creek Recreation Area:  Mountain bikers have 8.5 miles of trail to ride in this area managed by Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation. The 6-mile Pinnacle Trail is rated hard-intermediate to expert rider, and the 2.5 mile lakeside Trail is rated hard-beginner to intermediate rider. Please be sensitive to trails and do not ride when wet.  

Stones River Greenway:  Trail is operated by Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation. Trailhead begins below J. Percy Priest Dam and travels downstream, eventually linking up with other trails to downtown Nashville. Easy to moderate paved trail provides excellent walking, biking, and other forms of recreation, and provides access to Stones River.

Lake Barkley FAQ

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A:  Remote camping on Islands or the East shoreline is prohibited.  However remote camping is available on Land Between the Lakes shoreline with a permit from the USDA Forest Service.

Swimming area water samples are taken weekly and more often if needed.  If the water samples have undesirable readings, the swimming areas are closed.

Lake Barkley is not considered a deep-water lake however, the lake does maintain a commercial and secondary navigation buoy system to aid in the safety of commercial and recreation boating.

Lake Barkley offers several hiking trails. 

Anderson Woodland Trail (.5 miles)
Located in the Old Kuttawa Recreation Area, the half-mile Anderson Woodland Trail is an enjoyable footpath for birding and viewing the great tall trees of the region.

Canal Overlook Trail (1mile)
Located in the Canal Overlook Recreation Area, the 1 mile short hiking trail allows campers to enjoy the outdoor scenery at their leisure.

Lake Barkley State Park Trail (3 miles)
Located in the Lake Barkley State Park, the 3 mile long trail offers a well-maintained path for visitors to take an easy stroll through the lakeside woods where wildflowers and deer can be seen.

Chestnut Oak Trail (2.5 miles)
Located in the Eureka Campground and Day Use Area, the 2.5 mile long trail offer hikers and bikers a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.

Read more at AllTrails.com: Lake Barkley State Resort Park Trail

Lake Cumberland FAQ

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Black Walnut Trail The quarter mile, one way, trail boasts many interpretive signs to assist with a self guided tour.  Maps of the Black Walnut Trail can be found here

Kendall Whispering Pines Trail  The half mile, one way, trail takes you through a forest of pines which is home for much of the area's wildlife.  Maps of the Whispering Pines Trail can be found here!

Laurel River Lake FAQ

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Laurel Loop Trail This trail is a 1 1/4 mile strenuous hiking trail located before the uncontrolled spillway and Laurel tail waters. The steep natural terrain limits the accessibility.

Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail 94 miles of this trail are located within the Daniel Boone National Forest.  Portions of the trail skirt the western edge of the shoreline.

Both offices can answer basic visitor information about the lake and surrounding area.  If you have questions about the Dam, Spillway Beach or the Laurel Dam picnic area please contact the Resource Manager’s Office at 606-864-6412 or 606-878-6752.  For all other inquiries contact the U.S. Forest Service, London Ranger District at 606-864-4163.

We would encourage you to participate in the Annual Laurel Lake Cleanup to be held each year in April or May. Volunteers can be scouts, clubs, families, and individuals who wish to make the lake cleaner and more beautiful by picking up garbage and debris on public lands. For more information, contact the London District, of the Daniel Boone Forest at 606-864-4163.

Martins Fork Lake FAQ

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Cumberland Shadow Trail The Cumberland Shadow Trail is a 5 mile long multi-purpose trail along the backside of the lake. 

Martins Fork Lake is unique among the Nashville District lakes.  Martins Fork was authorized under Public Law 89-72, which states that recreation at Martins Fork must be provided by a local partner.  Martins Fork’s recreation facilities are operated and maintained by the Harlan County Fiscal Court.  The Corps of Engineers does not provide any funding for recreation at Martins Fork.

We would encourage you to participate in the Annual Laurel Lake Cleanup to be held each year in April or May. Volunteers can be scouts, clubs, families, and individuals who wish to make the lake cleaner and more beautiful by picking up garbage and debris on public lands. For more information, contact the London District, of the Daniel Boone Forest at 606-864-4163.

Old Hickory Lake FAQ

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Records are kept at the Old Hickory Lake Resource Manager’s Office. Anglers applying for a lake record fish should request an application, have the fish weighed on a certified scale and have two witnesses present. Contact the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to verify the species and weight of the fish. Click here to see the Old Hickory Lake record fish.

Willow Swamp, Wildlife, and Woodland Loops:  Take a stroll along this loop and be sure to stop on the boardwalk that crosses over a swamp area. 
Old Hickory Lake Archery Trail and Range one of the nation’s finest archery trails.
Shutes Branch Mountain Bike Trail Nearly 8-mile serpentine trail: considered to be a great warm-up or simply a great ride for beginners.