Lake Cumberland

Lake Cumberland watershed

About the Lake Cumberland watershed

Drainage Area

1886 square miles

Notable Tributaries

  • Pitman Creek
  • Buck Creek


  • Adair County, KY
  • Casey County, KY
  • Clay County, TN
  • Clinton County, KY
  • Cumberland County, KY
  • Laurel County, KY
  • Lincoln County, KY
  • McCreary County, KY
  • Metcalfe County, KY
  • Monroe County, KY
  • Pickett County, TN
  • Pulaski County, KY
  • Rockcastle County, KY
  • Russell County, KY
  • Wayne County, KY

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.

Endangered gray bats spend nights foraging for insects over streams and the placid waters of the reservoir. Spectaclecase mussels avoid strong currents beneath the bluffs of river bends. Bottomland trees are common along stream banks here, and hardwood forests and cane brakes were common along the Cumberland River before the completion of Wolf Creek Dam in 1951 created Lake Cumberland.

With a capacity of 6,100,000 acre-feet, Lake Cumberland is the largest man-made reservoir by volume east of the Mississippi. The reservoir boasts over 1.7 million visitors annually.

Explore the Lake Cumberland watershed