This expansive body of water in Winchester, Kentucky, comes alive in the summer with opportunities for recreation. 

Boats docked at marina on Cave Run Lake in Winchester, Kentucky (photo by Sherman Cahal)

Spanning three counties in northeastern Kentucky, the Cumberland District of Daniel Boone National Forest is home to Cave Run Lake, an 8,000-surface-acre expanse of fresh, clear water that offers some of the state’s best waterfront recreation. 

Boaters looking to head out on the lake often travel to the Cumberland Ranger District Office, located off state Route 801, which has access points to the water and hiking trails in the surrounding forest, including the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail. 

The lake attracts visitors for boating, kayaking, sailing and swimming, with the Scott Creek Marina offering houseboat, pontoon and paddleboat rentals. Picnic areas make for an inviting lunch along the water, and two sand beaches provide places to swim. Because Cave Run Lake is known as a hot spot for muskie fishing, anglers travel to this part of Kentucky to cast their lines along the lake’s northern shore, just outside the city of Morehead. 

Those looking to get away from the water can hit the trail on foot, mountain bike or horseback. The 7-mile Buckskin Trail is open to mountain bikers and hikers looking for a route that follows the shoreline. Travelers on horseback can enjoy more than 6 miles of lakeshore views from the Caney Trail. 

Camping is one of the best ways to get the full Cave Run Lake experience. Hook up your RV or pitch a tent at one of Twin Knob Campground’s 200 sites. The 700-acre campground also has a store where travelers can purchase necessities like food and ice. The smaller Zilpo Campground offers 350 acres for tents and RVs, as well as rental cabins for parties of up to seven. If camping is not for you, the city of Morehead has lodging options, including commercial motels and cabin rentals with views of towering trees and distant mountaintops. (Cumberland Ranger District Office) 12375 KY-801, Morehead, Kentucky 40351, 606/784-6428; for more information, visit