Upper Cumberland

Upper Cumberland watershed

About the Upper Cumberland watershed

Drainage Area

2336 square miles

Notable Tributaries

  • Dog Slaughter Creek
  • Laurel River


  • Bell County, KY
  • Campbell County, TN
  • Claiborne County, TN
  • Clay County, KY
  • Harlan County, KY
  • Knox County, KY
  • Laurel County, KY
  • Leslie County, KY
  • Letcher County, KY
  • McCreary County, KY
  • Scott County, TN
  • Whitley County, KY

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.

Rainbow darter and hogsuckers swim amongst the fast creek riffles, and fourtoed salamanders burrow within the mosses of boggy wetlands. Hemlock and magnolia trees can be spotted along streams in coves and bottomlands, along with rich understories of rhododendron. Rising from the eastern corner of the watershed, Black Mountain is the highest mountain in Kentucky as well as the highest in the Cumberland basin, with a 4,145-foot summit. 


Explore the Upper Cumberland watershed