Lakes In Kentucky: Largest & Smallest

by | Last updated Oct 19, 2023

Kentucky is home to numerous amounts of lakes, offering many opportunities for recreational activities such as fishing, boating, skiing and more. Lakes in Kentucky are some of the most beautiful lakes in the country.

In this list below, we’ll go over all the known lakes in Kentucky, look at which ones are the largest and provide a description about each lake.

Without further ado, lets start by taking a look at some of Kentucky’s largest lakes.

Largest lakes in Kentucky

Kentucky Lake

Kentucky Lake is the largest lake in Kentucky and located in the western part of the state, spanning into northwestern Tennessee, and covers an impressive surface area of 160,309 acres or 250.48 square miles. It was formed by the construction of the Kentucky Dam on the Tennessee River and has over two thousand miles of shoreline.

Known for its vastness and scenic beauty, Kentucky Lake has become a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering an array of recreational activities such as boating, fishing, water skiing, and camping. Beyond its allure as a recreational paradise, the lake plays a vital role in supporting the region’s agricultural and industrial endeavors, providing crucial irrigation for fertile lands and contributing to the economic prosperity of the surrounding communities.

kentucky lake
Beautiful Kentucky Lake in Western Kentucky and Northwestern Tennessee

Embracing history, nature, and leisure, Kentucky Lake remains a treasured gem, symbolizing the enduring harmony between humanity and the natural world.

Lake Cumberland

Lake Cumberland is located in southern Kentucky’s Cumberland Plateau and covers an extensive surface area of 50,250 acres with a shoreline expanding 1,255 miles. This reservoir was formed by the construction of Wolf Creek Dam on the Cumberland River.

Known as one of the largest man made lakes in the United States, Lake Cumberland has become a destination for water enthusiasts, fisherman, and outdoor enthusiasts seeking nature’s beauty in the Bluegrass State. Its significance extends beyond leisure, as the lake also serves as an essential source of hydroelectric power generation, flood control, and supporting the region’s agricultural needs.

With its scenic charm, recreational opportunities, and vital contributions to the local economy and environment, Lake Cumberland remains a gem in the heart of Kentucky.

Lake Barkley

Lake Barkley is a reservoir nestled in western Kentucky near Kentucky Lake, formed by the Barkley Dam on the Cumberland River. It spans across a surface area of 57,900 acres and has 1,004 miles of shoreline.

Lake Barkley has gained fame as a haven for water sports enthusiasts, fishing aficionados, and outdoor lovers seeking tranquility in nature’s embrace in the Land Between the Lakes area. Boasting abundant wildlife and diverse ecosystems, the lake also offers ample opportunities for birdwatching and exploring its scenic surroundings.

lake barkley
Photo of Lake Barkley from the Lake Barkley Lodge

Lake Barkley plays a crucial role in supporting the region’s economy by providing essential water resources for agriculture, industry, and recreation. With its rich recreational offerings and vital contributions to the community, Lake Barkley stands as an outdoor destination in Kentucky, attracting thousands of visitors with its natural charm and boundless possibilities.

Barren River Lake

Barren River Lake is located in south central Kentucky and covers approximately 10,100 acres with 141 miles of shoreline. It was formed by the Barren River Dam in 1964.

Barren River Lake is known for its recreational offerings, largemouth bass fishing, attracting visitors and locals alike for boating, fishing, water sports, and camping adventures. Its abundant fish population, including bass, catfish, and crappie, makes it a popular destination for anglers seeking a rewarding catch.

The lake’s surrounding area features forests and wildlife, making it an ideal spot for nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers. It’s also close to the nearby Mammoth Cave, the world’s longest cave system.

With its serene ambiance, diverse recreational opportunities, and rich natural offerings, Barren River Lake stands as a cherished gem, inviting all to bask in the tranquility and splendor of Kentucky’s great outdoors.

barren river lake
Night time on Barren River Lake in Glasgow, Kentucky

To recap, here are the largest lakes in Kentucky by surface acres:

  • Kentucky Lake – 160,309 acres
  • Lake Cumberland – 50,250 acres
  • Lake Barkley – 57,900 acres
  • Barren River Lake – 10,100 acres

All lakes in Kentucky

Here are the lakes in Kentucky along with their surface area size in acres:

Lake nameLake size in acres
Barren River Lake10,100
Beaver Lake158
Boltz Lake92
Buckhorn Lake1,230
Bullock Pen Lake134
Cannon Creek Lake243
Carr Creek Lake710
Cave Run Lake8,270
Cedar Creek Lake792
Cranks Creek Lake219
Dale Hollow Lake27,700
Dewey Lake1,100
Doe Run Lake30
Elk Lake255
Elmer Davis Lake149
Fishtrap Lake1,130
Grayson Lake1,500
Green River Lake8,210
Greenbo Lake300
Guist Creek Lake317
Herrington Lake2,335
Kentucky Lake160,300
Kincaid Lake183
Lake Barkley57,900
Lake Beshear760
Lake Carnico1,140
Laurel River Lake5,600
Lake Linville356
Lake Malone788
Martins Fork Lake340
Nolin River Lake5,795
Paintsville Lake1,139
Pan Bowl Lake30
Rough River Lake5,100
Shanty Hollow Lake135
Shelby Lake100
Swan Lake300
Taylorsville Lake3,050
Washburn Lake26
Wilgreen Lake147
Williamstown Lake333
Willisburg Lake1,800
Wood Creek Lake672
Yatesville Lake2,293
List of lakes in Kentucky
shanty hollow lake in kentucky
Shanty Hollow Lake is located north of Bowling Green in Warren County


In Kentucky, the array of lakes stands to the state’s natural beauty. From the grand size of Kentucky Lake to the small shores of Lake Washburn in Hartford, each body of water offers a unique recreational opportunities and natural beauty.

Kentucky’s lakes are enjoyed by both locals and visitors alike as they fish, camp and enjoy the lakes we have to offer.

As the sun sets over the waters, the legacy of these lakes lives on, woven into the fabric of Kentucky’s history and culture.

lakes in kentucky
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Trey Copeland

Trey Copeland

Founder & Editor

Hello folks! I’m Trey Copeland, founder and editor of Stay Bluegrass, along with my wife Kaci. We’ve been fortunate to travel to many countries such as Mexico and Costa Rica, but our true roots remain here in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Bluegrass State.

Our goal is to help you live like a local while traveling and exploring the great state of Kentucky. We want to help you find the best places to eat, the must see and do attractions and more.

Hey! I'm Trey

Hey! I'm Trey

I live in Owensboro, Kentucky and have traveled around the Bluegrass state with my wife Kaci.

Read more about us

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