Paddling Laurel River Lake
Laurel River is a tributary of the Cumberland River that flows through the famous Daniel Boone National Forest, near Corbin, Kentucky. By 1974, the 282-foot-high Laurel River Dam had been constructed to regulate the reservoir.
What Makes It Great
Laurel River Lake is a favorite destination to thousands of visitors every year. Thankfully, it’s huge, about 19 miles in length, and will take you days to explore—which is one of the things that makes it a great place to paddle.
If you picked only one place to perfect your paddling, this lake has it all. There are 200 miles of tree-lined shoreline and 6,060 acres of lake access. Laurel River Lake is one of the cleanest, clearest, deepest lakes around, with plenty of quiet coves to explore and relax in, or simply to get out of the summer sun. Some of the coves have tree stumps to maneuver around, but this also provides shelter to wildlife. For avid paddlers, turn your day trip into a longer adventure and prepare to camp overnight. The lake hosts several campgrounds so that you can continue your journey for however long you like. The stunning scenery close to cliffs is what draws most paddlers, along with gorgeous beaches where most paddlers launch.
Who is Going to Love It
Laurel River Lake is a relaxed, calm place. Those looking for extreme adventure and adrenaline rushes should head elsewhere. But if you’re aiming for a fun day of paddling, this is the perfect destination—canoe, kayak, or paddleboard at your own leisure. Kids are sure to love the opportunity to paddle to an overnight campsite and enjoy time in the forest.
Directions, Parking & Regulations
The Flatwoods Picnic Area is a great place to launch a boat, though there are many other places around the lake to put in. The National Forest Website offers details on all the launches and access points to check out.
For more Kentucky paddling adventures, visit here.
Time to Complete: Since it’s a lake, you can take as long as you want.
Distance: Up to 200 miles of shoreline
Seasonality: Late spring, summer, and fall are best.
Fees: $5 at the beach to park, but there are some free ramps to use.
Dog Friendly: Yes
GPS Coordinates: Spillway Beach by the dam is a great location to launch.