We’re wrapping up the series on the nine lakes in the Knoxville area (you can read about the other lakes here and here). There’s still a lot of warm weather left this year, so take the time to get out and enjoy one of these reservoirs, especially Fort Loudon Lake, which calls Knoxville home.
The third largest of the TVA reservoirs in the region in terms of both the water acreage and the length of shoreline, Douglas Lake might well be the best of the lakes when it comes to fishing. It has been rated in the top 5 crappie fishing lakes in the nation and holds a spot in the top 10 for large mouth bass. Even without taking those accolades into consideration, Douglas Lake still boasts excellent fishing for a wide range of fish beyond crappie and large mouth: white bass, black crappie, striped and spotted bass, walleye, blue cat, flat head cat, channel cat, red horse, red breast sunfish, sauger and bluegill. If it’s a freshwater fish and you wan to catch it, it’s probably in Douglas Lake!
At 43.1 miles long, Douglas Lake is dotted with several marinas that offer both boat rentals and houseboat rentals, allowing for visitors without watercraft to stay right on the water and then to enjoy a day cruising around the lake.
FORT LOUDON LAKE
Nestled in the heart of Knoxville, Fort Loudon Lake offers visitors all the beauty, wonder, and excitement of an outdoor experience coupled with all the dining and lodging that a city can provide. In short, Fort Loudon is the heart of East Tennessee’s urban wilderness.
With amazingly easy access throughout the year, Fort Loudon Lake provides visitors with year-round activity. Warmer weather means plenty of water sports, from boating to water skiing to paddle boarding to kayaking. Public parks and lake access dot the shoreline of Fort Loudon Lake. The lake boasts 14 marinas and 24 public boat ramps. Cooler weather leads to productive fishing expeditions. Anglers can catch bass, catfish, bluegill, crappie, and sauger.
On the south side of the Fort Loudon Lake, visitors can immerse themselves in South Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. This interconnected network of over 40 miles of interconnected trails often follows the shoreline of the lake, overlooks the water, or, at Ijams Nature Center, even extends over the water on a wooden boardwalk that clings to the stone that rises above the lake’s surface. Only minutes from the vibrant life of Knoxville’s Market Square and Gay Street, folks can relax in the tranquility of the Fort Loudon Lake’s stillness while they watch for birds across the water.
If all that nature gets to be too much, but visitors still want to experience the water, they can take a cruise either on the Star of Knoxville, a paddlewheeler, or aboard the Volunteer Princess, a luxury yacht. The expeditions take guests up the lake and back again, enjoying the scenery, perhaps a meal, and the company of fellow passengers.
Fort Loudon Lake has something to offer every visitor, from a reflective jaunt along the water’s edge to a thrilling speedboat ride to the excitement of landing a big catfish to the view of the sun setting over Knoxville.
MELTON HILL LAKE
With 5470 acres of flat water and 193 miles of shoreline, Melton Hill Lake offers ample opportunities to enjoy the water. The lake extends roughly 57 miles and is navigable for 38 of those miles. Water enthusiasts not inclined to row might paddle instead. Boats can be put in either at Melton Hill Park or Haw Ridge Park. A quieter, more scenic way to experience Melton Hill Lake, these blueways allow visitors to view the wildlife abundant in the area. Paddlers can expect to spy birds such as ospreys, herons, geese, cormorants, and kingfishers, as well as mammals like muskrats and beavers.
Areas around Melton Hill Lake serve to engage visitors who want to enjoy the water, but from the comfort of solid ground. Folks looking for a faster pace can pedal bicycles around the miles of trails in the Melton Hill Reservation, Melton Hill Park or on the Melton Hill Greenway, which extends for several miles in Oak Ridge. For a slower pace, pedestrians can walk many of the same trails, enjoying a peaceful stroll on TVA’s Worthington Cemetery Trail or around Haw Ridge Park.