Lake Cumberland in southern Kentucky is well known throughout Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee; but, most others are probably not familiar with this great, family, vacation destination. As the second largest man-made lake east of the Mississippi River, water lovers flock here each summer. Over 400,000 people swarm the lake on Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day weekends. The lake is so vast, though, that it does not get crowded outside of the marinas. From end to end, Lake Cumberland stretches over 100 miles with 1255 miles of shoreline. Stone cliffs plummeting from the surrounding woods of rural Kentucky into the crystal clear water keep families coming back each summer to enjoy fun in the sun: boating, water-skiing, fishing, camping, hiking, and spending time together.
With portions of the lake being over a mile from shore to shore and an average depth of 90 feet, even on busy weekends, the water is smooth and perfect for skiing. Early in the morning when the sun crests over the hills, the water looks like glass reflecting the morning beams. Calm waters make it much easier for beginner water-skiers. There is plenty of room to slice through the water unobstructed which allows everyone to let loose. Little ones and many adults love tubing, being drug behind a boat on an inflated raft and slung side-to side. The open space makes these activities safer.
Boating and Swimming
As you cruise along the lake, you will see pontoons and other boats just lazily floating with families enjoying the day, swimming off the side of the boat or lounging on a raft. As the water is very deep, everyone should always wear a life jacket. On some of the cliffs, you can watch teens and some adults jumping over 30 feet into the water. This is safe in the right spots with the water being around 100 feet deep 2 to 3 feet from the rocky shore. Obviously, don’t try this unless you know the spot is safe and are a good swimmer!
Lake Cumberland is also loved by anglers. Bass, bluegill, trout, catfish, and crappie are all found in abundance. Whether competing in a bass tournament or just dropping a line over the edge of a pontoon, if you like fishing, then you be happy here. My grandad fished Lake Cumberland regularly. My grandma’s fried crappie is still the best fish that I have ever eaten. Many people come specifically in hopes of landing a striped bass. Striped bass weighing over 50 pounds have been caught. That’s a big fresh water fish!
Each weekend houseboats spread across the lake seeking a private cove in which to tie up. Houseboats can be rented by families at many docks. The houseboats, most of which are constructed locally, have all of the amenities of home: full kitchens, baths, bedrooms, dining and living rooms. Aboard many, you can sunbathe on the roof. Then, when you need cooled down, jump on the slide that takes you from the roof over the edge and drops you splashing into the water. Rent a jet ski and dart out from the houseboat onto the lake. Drop a line over the edge and see if you can catch your dinner. Your family can be almost completely isolated but with modern amenities.
Many people camp and hike in the forests surrounding Lake Cumberland. Lake Cumberland State Resort Park and Burnside Island State Resort Park both border the lake and offer trails, camping, and boat ramps. Many other camping areas with boat ramps dot the shore, too. There are also cabins which can be rented. Brilliant lake views from the hills and hardwood forest can be appreciated from the trails, campsites, and cabins.
While most of the draw to the area is for the beauty and the water, there are other things to do here, too. Burnside Island has one of the top rated golf courses in the state. Golfers can tee off at many other nearby public courses for more variety. Cumberland Falls is just a short drive away and should not be missed. Try to catch the moonbow as it is a once in a lifetime experience for most. On the fourth Saturday of the month from April through October, Somerset hosts Somernites Cruise Car Show where hundreds of classic cars fill the streets of town for your family to admire.
As you can see, if you are a water lover, Lake Cumberland in southern Kentucky is definitely a destination to check out. Here is a helpful link to make it easier. Link