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11 Popular Recreational Lakes near Cookeville, TN

The area around Cookeville has plenty of lakes suitable for swimming, kayaking, fishing, and boating. Some options are located within state parks which provide campgrounds, RV spaces, and trails.
itiswild.com Best Lakes near Cookeville TN

The area around Cookeville has plenty of lakes, most of which are reservoirs used for flood control and water storage.

Such lakes offer opportunities for boating, swimming, and year-round fishing. 

Larger reservoirs, like Cordell Hull Lake or Center Hill Lake, allow water skiing and tubing, and some are clear enough for scuba diving.

Also, many of the lakes on the list are situated within state parks which offer campgrounds, cabins, and RV sites for multi-day stays.

All of the options below are less than an hour’s drive from the city. 

Learn more about the area and discover what Cookeville has to offer!

Lakes near Cookeville:

  1. Cane Creek Lake
  2. City Lake
  3. Center Hill Lake
  4. Cordell Hull Lake
  5. Standingstone Lake
  6. Dale Hollow Lake
  7. Holpps Pine Ridge Lake
  8. Meadow Park Lake
  9. Lake Tansi
  10. Byrd Lake
  11. Fall Creek Falls Lake
Lakes near Cookeville Tennessee Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Cane Creek Lake

Cane Creek Lake Cookeville Tennessee
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Cane Creek Lake
  • Distance from Cookeville: 3 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking

Cane Creek Lake is located a couple of miles west of downtown Cookeville. 

Until the early 1970s, the city dump sat in an area near Cane Creek. At that time, city leaders hoped to create an impoundment for flood control and recreational purposes in the area. 

After the landfill closed in 1974 and moved elsewhere, years of planning took place. The current earthen dam that allowed for the establishment of the 56-acre Cane Creek Lake was completed in 1984.

Cane Creek Park & Recreation Area surrounds the reservoir and spans 262 acres. Visitors to this regional park have opportunities to hike, bike, use volleyball and basketball courts, picnic, fish, play disc golf, or launch a boat into the lake. 

During the warmer months, guests may rent canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats. Trails of nearly two miles encircle Cane Creek Lake. 

Those who enjoy fishing can cast a line along the embankment, visit one of the two fishing piers in the park, or get on a boat that is not operated by a gas engine. 

Fish commonly found in Cane Creek Lake include rainbow trout, largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, carp, and bluegill. 

2. City Lake

city lake cookeville
Source: wikimedia/CC BY 3.0
  • Website: City Lake
  • Distance from Cookeville: 4 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking

Located four miles southeast of downtown, City Lake is the area where Cleghorn Creek meets the Falling Water River. 

In the late 1940s, crews built a concrete dam along a section of Falling Water River to create this meandering, 35-acre lake. 

Impounded with the intention of using water from this lake to supply Cookeville’s drinking needs, the reservoir could no longer meet the demand in the early 1970s, so the city began to draw water from Center Hill Lake. 

Although facilities are limited at the City Lake Natural Area, visitors have an opportunity to fish, hike trails, and paddle. 

A parking area near where Bridgeway Drive crosses this body of water also affords an opportunity to see City Lake Falls

Those who walk in the heavily forested area may encounter muskrats, deer, foxes, coyotes, and many other animals.

The geology of the region is fascinating, as is the fishing. Anglers who visit City Lake discover that this site is a popular place to catch bream, bass, and catfish. 

Other species found here include largemouth bass, black and white crappie, and bluegill. 

3. Center Hill Lake

Center Hill Lake Tennessee
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Center Hill Lake
  • Distance from Cookeville: 21 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing

Center Hill Lake is the ideal destination for visitors who enjoy waterfalls, hills, and lush forested areas. 

Three state parks and numerous campgrounds and recreation areas dot the approximately 415 miles of shoreline covered by this reservoir. 

Center Hill Lake was formed as an impoundment of Caney Fork, Falling Water River, and other smaller tributaries. 

The US Army Corps of Engineers built Center Hill Dam in 1948, creating a reservoir that spans 18,220 surface acres and a length of 64 miles, resembling a swollen river more than a traditional lake. 

The furthest state recreation site from the dam and Cookeville is Rock Island State Park, 30 miles south of the city, with outstanding overlooks of the Eastern Highland Rim. 

Burgess Falls State Park, ten miles south-southwest of the city, is the closest access point and offers views of multiple waterfalls and access to the lake from Falling Water River. 

Edgar Evins State Park, 25 miles west of the city, is a 6,000-acre park that provides access to the area closest to the dam. 

Steep ridges and rolling hills are found throughout the lake, including federal sites such as Ragland Bottom Campground.

These and other locations allow anglers great opportunities to fish in Center Hill Lake. Several tournaments take place on the lake throughout the year. 

This abundant lake supports a variety of species, such as black bass, white bass, smallmouth bass, catfish, walleye, bluegill, crappie, trout, and bream. 

A Tennessee state record paddlefish that weighed 120 lbs. was caught here in 1982.

4. Cordell Hull Lake

Cordell Hull Lake Tennessee
Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Website: Cordell Hull Lake 
  • Distance from Cookeville: 26 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing

Cordell Hull Reservoir is a substantial 11,960-acre impoundment of the Cumberland River, with a dam located about 35 miles northwest of Cookeville and five miles from Carthage. 

Located a few miles north of where Caney Creek flows into the Cumberland River, the lake continues 72 miles upstream to a location beyond Gainesboro, approximately 18 miles northwest of Cookeville. 

Managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, this reservoir has more than 20 boat launch ramps and 381 miles of shoreline.

Federal recreation sites provide access to camping, fishing, hiking, boating, scuba diving, horseback riding, biking, and picnicking. 

Named for a local native who served as Secretary of State under President Franklin Roosevelt, this reservoir honors a man who helped to create the United Nations. 

Federal recreation areas that offer excellent starting points to enjoy Cordell Hull Reservoir include Defeated Creek Park CampgroundWartrace Creek Recreation AreaSalt Lick Creek CampgroundRoaring River Park, and Tailwater Recreation Area.

Anglers will enjoy catching many species, including crappie, catfish, rockfish, shad, white bass, and largemouth bass. 

A state record striped bass (rockfish) in 2000, weighing 65 lbs. 6 oz., and river carpsucker in 2020, weighing 8 lbs. 1 oz., were caught here. 

5. Standingstone Lake

Boats docked by a stone spillway at Standing Stone State Park, Tennessee
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Standingstone Lake
  • Distance from Cookeville: 24 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming (pool), Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping

Standingstone Lake sits 23 miles north-northeast of Cookeville. 

Also known as Kelly Lake, this 69-acre body of water is an impoundment of Mill Creek, created with the construction of a concrete dam in 1936. 

The lake sits within Standing Stone State Park, named for a tall rock that allegedly served as a boundary between Indian nations at one time. 

The park came into being in 1939 in an area where farmers had experienced soil erosion and many other difficulties. 

Activities in the park include fishing, camping, hiking on more than eight miles of trails, enjoying an evening in a cabin, and gatherings in the park’s famous Tea Room

This site also hosts the annual National Rolley Hole Marble Tournament in September. 

Anglers will find bass, catfish, trout, and bluegill. 

6. Dale Hollow Lake

Dale Hollow Lake Tennessee
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Dale Hollow Lake
  • Distance from Cookeville: 35 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing

Located a little more than 35 miles northeast of Cookeville, Dale Hollow Lake was formed by a dam in 1943.

This lake impounds the Obey River just before it meets the Cumberland River. 

Also known as Dale Hollow Reservoir, this 27,700-acre body of water is a substantial flood control reservoir for the Cumberland River watershed, along with Center Hill Lake. 

Many recreation areas provide lake access. The day-use Pleasant Grove Recreation Area is a federal site in the Tennessee hills. 

Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park, located on the Kentucky side of the reservoir, provides opportunities to boat, camp, hike, spend time at the lodge, and enjoy other outdoor recreation activities. 

Known as a site for smallmouth bass fishing, this reservoir also has spotted bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, and occasional trout and muskellunge. 

The world record for a smallmouth bass, a fish weighing 11 lbs. 15 oz., was caught here in 1955. 

7. Holpps Pine Ridge Lake

a boat ramp on a lake in tennessee
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Holpps Pine Ridge Lake
  • Distance from Cookeville: 25 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Camping, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing

Twenty-five miles east of Cookeville, Holpps Pine Ridge Lake is an artificial reservoir created in the 1960s. 

This 185-acre lake was developed for recreation, especially swimming and fishing. 

private facility provides access along the lake’s eastern side, with picnic areas, a sandy beach, and camping facilities. 

Watercraft of all sizes sail along Pine Ridge Lake, from boats to jet skis. Seasonal kayak rentals are available. 

Fish found in this lake include crappie, catfish, bream, bass, and redear sunfish. 

8. Meadow Park Lake

Kayaks of different sizes and canoes for rentals on the lake on a floating dock closeup view with the colorful woodlands in the background in autumn in Crossville
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Meadow Park Lake 
  • Distance from Cookeville: 41 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping

A 41-mile drive southeast of the city, Meadow Park Lake is a few miles southwest of Crossville. 

The city’s first reservoir and the first in Cumberland County, this lake was created by impounding Meadow Creek with a concrete dam in 1938. 

Known for hiking, fishing, boating, and kayaking, the 269-acre lake and 2,200 acres of land surrounding it offer a popular recreation destination. 

Amenities along the lake include fishing areas, a boat ramp, campsites, trails, and rental boat slips. Skiing and tubing are not permitted, though anglers enjoy fishing here. 

Species found in Meadow Park Lake include channel catfish, bream, crappie, bluegill, yellow perch, and largemouth bass. 

9. Lake Tansi

  • Website: Lake Tansi
  • Distance from Cookeville: 40 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, RV Park, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing

A little more than a mile southeast of Meadow Park Lake, Lake Tansi is another impoundment created in 1959 that has become the largest lake on the Cumberland Plateau. 

Unlike the largely undeveloped shoreline at Meadow Park Lake, much of the shoreline along Lake Tansi is residential. A communal beach and public access area are located on the northeastern shore. 

Common activities along Lake Tansi include fishing, water skiing, paddle boating, and swimming. 

Although personal watercraft are not permitted, guests can rent motorized boats from the bait shop on the southern shore.

Located in an area six miles from downtown Crossville, this reservoir also has lakeside cabins and an RV Park with lake access. 

Fish found in this lake include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, black crappie, and bluegill. 

10. Byrd Lake

Crossville, Tennessee The Bridge crossing Bryd Lake at Cumberland Mountain State Park
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Byrd Lake
  • Distance from Cookeville: 43 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming (pool), Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping

Byrd Lake is located approximately 40 miles southeast of Cookeville, in the Crossville area.

During the New Deal, workers impounded a section of Byrd Creek in 1936 with a concrete dam, creating a reservoir that spans from 25 to more than 40 surface acres. 

Located on the Cumberland Plateau, this upland lake is the focal port of Cumberland Mountain State Park

Developed in 1938, this 1,720-acre park provides a variety of outdoor recreation activities, as well as cabins and camping areas for those who want to enjoy an overnight stay. 

Anglers who come to this lake may enjoy fishing from the shoreline or a boat. Common fish found within Byrd Lake include bass, catfish, bluegill, and trout. 

Year-round fishing allows people to enjoy this beautiful destination in all seasons. 

11. Fall Creek Falls Lake

Fall Creek Falls State Park In Tennessee
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Fall Creek Falls Lake
  • Distance from Cookeville: 47 miles (1 hr)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Biking, Hiking, Camping, Picnics

Fall Creek Falls Lake is a 345-acre reservoir in one of the most visited state parks in Tennessee – Fall Creek Falls State Park

It’s a family-friendly destination with plenty to see and do, and it’s about an hour’s drive away.

The biggest appeal in the park is the majestic 256-feet waterfall, one of the highest in the eastern US. In addition to the main attraction, a few smaller falls and cascades draw thousands of visitors every month.

However, the park’s lake is a gem in its own right. It’s closed for motorized boating, making it a tranquil spot for kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. 

The lake is big enough to explore and get away from stress yet small enough not to intimidate beginners with choppy waves. 

The park rents kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and jon boats, so there is no need to bring your own. 

What’s more, the park has a large swimming pool, hiking and biking trails, and a wide selection of accommodations, including campgrounds, cabins, and lodges.

Fall Creek Falls Lake scores high reviews despite its modest size. There are reports of 8-pound largemouth bass, in addition to channel cats and lots of panfish like bluegill and crappie.

With stunning waterfalls left, right, and center, Fall Creek Falls Lake is one of the most incredible destinations near Cookeville; it’s definitely worth the drive.

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