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Your guide to Dale Hollow Lake
Welcome to Dale Hollow Lake
Straddling the Kentucky-Tennessee state line, Dale Hollow Lake is as picturesque as they come, its steep bluffs and limestone outcroppings circling thick green forests, fingers stretching into secret coves. And with 620 miles of shoreline and 48 square miles of water surface, it’s a true boater’s paradise. The lake’s many marinas offer equipment to rent, including double-decker boats and non-motorized vehicles such as kayaks and paddleboards. If you’re more of a floater, Dale Hollow Lake was created when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Obey River, and the river is very popular with those seeking all-day floats. There are put-in spots all along this section of waterway.
While Dale Hollow Lake is best known for its championship smallmouth bass fishing — it holds the record for the world’s largest smallmouth — it’s also home to crappie, bream, muskie, walleye, trout, catfish, and other species of bass.
If you’re looking for things to do on land, the trails crisscrossing the lake’s perimeter are prime ground for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. You can also explore life in the towns surrounding the lake. The area is anchored by Celina, Tennessee — a small community with a large Amish influence and antique shopping galore — to the west and Byrdstown, home to the 55-acre historic Cordell Hull Birthplace and Museum park, to the east.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Dale Hollow Lake
If you want to beat the crowds, go to Dale Hollow Lake in the spring months when it’s just starting to warm up; Tennessee and Kentucky springs can start as early as March or as late as mid-April, and while the water may be chilly, you can expect the wildflowers and other blooms to show off. Summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends is the busiest time on Dale Hollow Lake, with out-of-state visitors and Tennessee and Kentucky residents flocking here to cool off in the intense Southern humidity. While some facilities and attractions may be open only in the summer months, fall is also a time to consider visiting Dale Hollow Lake as the leaves begin to turn shades of gold and the crowds head home for the season.
Top things to do in Dale Hollow Lake
Dale Hollow Lake State Park
Spanning 3,400 acres, Dale Hollow Lake State Park is a popular spot for active pursuits such as mountain biking, but it’s also well known for more low-key solitary activities such as birding. In the wintertime, the park is home to the state’s second-largest population of nesting bald eagles after Reelfoot Lake; it also houses plenty of waterfowl and other migrating bird species within its lush forests.
Go underground and see the cavernous landscape upon which Tennessee and Kentucky are built via an adventurous wander through Cindy Cave. The cave is open each summer from Memorial Day through Labor Day by guided tour only. Note that touring this primitive space requires comfort with moving, bending, and crawling through small spaces. You may be joined in your journey by cave-dwelling crickets, salamanders, and bats.
Standing Stone State Park
A 12-foot-tall rock on a sandstone ledge once served as the boundary between two Native American nations. Today, it’s a family-friendly state park in Tennessee with an artificial lake and plenty of hiking trails.