The Cumberland River Basin
Click on the map below to learn about the 14 watersheds in the basin.
The Appalachian Mountains are a predominant feature of the Upper Cumberland watershed. In the Upper Cumberland, one finds dense forests, steep ridges, narrow coves, and high gradient streams and waterfalls. Exceptional recreation opportunities can be found throughout, and Cumberland Falls attracts over 750,000 people annually. Sections of Rock Creek and Marsh Creek have been awarded Outstanding National Resource Waters designations.
The Lower Cumberland watershed (also known as Lake Barkley watershed) is the most downstream watershed of the Cumberland River basin. It is home to the Cumberland River basin’s outlet, where water from 18,000 square miles of basin land and 22,000 miles of basin streams and rivers empty into the Ohio River
Within the Lake Cumberland watershed, low to moderate gradient streams are the norm. Along this region’s tributaries, wide floodplains exist in many places, and farms and pasturelands are more prevalent here than on the higher plateaus and mountains. Springs, rapids, and waterfalls cascade from the many bluffs carved from sandstone and limestone throughout the landscape.
Like the mountainous areas of other watersheds in the region, the Appalachians in the Obey River watershed are cooler and receive slightly more rainfall than lower elevations to the west. The Obey River watershed is home to Cordell Hull and Sgt. Alvin C. York state historic parks, as well as portions of Pickett State Park and Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area.
The Collins River watershed is drained by the Collins River, which flows to the northeast to join the Caney Fork River at Center Hill Lake. Both the South Cumberland and Rock Island state parks are found within the watershed, and the Collins River itself is a Tennessee State Scenic River.
The rivers and streams of the Cordell Hull watershed drain to an impounded section of the Cumberland River known as Cordell Hull Lake, a reservoir created by another U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s project in 1973. Lands to the region’s north and west are mostly forested, while the regions’ southeastern third is primarily agricultural. The watershed is almost entirely west of the Appalachian Mountains.
Waters within the Red River watershed drain to the 97-mile Red River before emptying into the Cumberland River in Clarksville, TN. Flatter than the neighboring Lower Cumberland watershed, the Red’s karst-filled terrain interacts with a complex network of above and below ground streams where springs and sinkholes abound.
Waters that fall upon and flow through the Old Hickory Lake watershed make their way to an impounded section of the Cumberland River known as Old Hickory Lake, a reservoir created by an Army Corps of Engineers dam in 1954. The reservoir and watershed are named for the nation’s seventh president, Andrew Jackson, whose nickname was Old Hickory.
Want more detailed watershed maps? iCreek is a great way to learn about the health status of the streams in the basin.