Boating in Cave Run Lake, KY

Cave Run Lake

Cave Run Lake

Morehead, Kentucky

By Boating Life Editors

A lake in the middle of Daniel Boone National Forest doesn't seem like the ideal spring-break destination, but that's what first took me and a half-dozen friends to this clear, hideaway lake. We pitched tents in Twin Knobs Campground, which is run by the park, and launched a handmade boat from a handmade trailer on the nearby ramp. The fees might be more than $2 today, but not much more. Now, there's a boat-up campground called Clay Lick, so you can launch first and pitch camp afterward.

The area has grown since more and more boomers have discovered they like rural areas, but the shores of Cave Run Lake are protected by the Corps of Engineers, so they remain uncluttered by condos and tacky T-shirt shops. Still, you can find cozy bed-and-breakfast places and a motel or lodge near its shores.

Crash Mullins is the area's most famous fishing guide, and he specializes in bass, crappie and musky — a fish normally found only in northern lakes, but stocked here decades ago. The species has done well and most anglers release their trophies, which keeps the population virile for future fun.

The best way to enjoy Cave Run is to hitch a ski rope behind your boat and view it from a leisurely tube ride. The winding shores mean you'll find protected water somewhere for a glassy-smooth ski ride too. Kentucky is the heart of houseboat building, with brands like Sumerset, Thoroughbred and a dozen more. So you won't be surprised to find plenty of rentals around for the luxury-minded boat camper.

Overshadowed By: Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley and Lake Cumberland
If You Must Know: Summertime waters can be so deceptively clear that you'll be watching your depth finder in 10 feet of water.
Most Popular Boats: Houseboats for longer stays and whatever is running shotgun with them.

Shared with permission from Boating Life Magazine.