Cherokee Lake Information

Cherokee Lake lies in northeastern Tennessee in Grainger, Jefferson, Hamblen, and Hawkins Counties. Cherokee Lake’s southern edge is 25 miles northeast of Knoxville, Tennessee, the nearest metroplex. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) owns and manages Cherokee Lake.

The Holston River feeds Cherokee Lake. Cherokee Lake covers approximately 28,800 acres, with almost 400 miles of shoreline, an average depth of 30 feet, and a maximum depth of 175 feet. The lake bed and surrounding soil is composed of red clay, silt loam, and slate. 

Farmlands, gently rolling hills, and scenic pastures characterize Cherokee Lake’s landscape. This lake is about 30 miles long, running from southwest to northeast. There are a lot of islands and peninsulas in the upper end of Cherokee Lake, where it goes into a lot of different directions on the Holston River, and thousands of coves ring the entire lake. 

The Holston River source is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It flows for 274 miles through Virginia into Tennessee. The river ends at the confluence of the Holston and French Broad Rivers and forms the Tennessee River. Over 40 species of fish live in the river. 

The TVA operates visitor centers, trails, boat ramps, picnic tables, and the swim beach, which are provided to the public with no fee. The pavilion and the campgrounds require fees for stays.

Cherokee Lake History 

The TVA began construction on the Cherokee Dam in 1940 to generate electricity for WWII emergencies. Now the dam serves as flood control and has prevented billions of dollars of flood damage throughout the years. 

The U.S. and the Cherokee Nation signed the Treaty of the Holston in 1791. The treaty established that the U.S. would protect and manage the affairs of the Cherokee people. Long before 1791, many Indian Nations were allying with the different European nations in power in the North and South American Continents. 

Forty years later, the U.S. government moved all the southeastern Indian tribes west, and European settlement of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia began.  Daniel Boone’s famous trail blazing journey began just 24 miles northeast of today’s Cherokee Lake. Kingsport, Tennessee, was called Long Island on Holston, and there was no town there. Daniel followed what is known as the Cumberland Gap.

Today, this trail is known as Daniel Boone’s Wilderness Trail. The Wilderness Trail, or the Cumberland Gap, was a major route in the Native American trail systems, which spanned both continents. The trail on the Holston River was  used for commerce and raids. The Cumberland Gap is a natural break through the Smoky Mountains. After the Indians and Daniel Boone, hundreds of thousands of settlers used this route and settled the land of the South. 

Fishing Cherokee Lake

Predominant game species are black, Cherokee, largemouth, smallmouth, and striped bass, black, blacknose, and white crappie, paddlefish, sauger, saugeye, and walleye. Other species include hybrid striped, rock, and white bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, blue and channel catfish, and warmouth. Cherokee Lake fluctuates about 27 feet in a normal year. 

The fish seem to be everywhere on Cherokee Lake. The fish like to school deeper in the many channels, ledges, points, and humps throughout Cherokee Lake in the hotter and colder months. Boat ramps are scattered everywhere around Cherokee Lake, with plenty of businesses and marinas catering to anglers and boaters. 

The highest largemouth bass catches occur in March and April when the water warms and bass move to shallow water to spawn. Smallmouth bass move to clay and gravel points in the spring for spawning, but can be found on rocky areas and love bait on the bottom.

Striped Bass and Cherokee bass are numerous and maintained by stocking which provide excellent angling opportunities, but they do not grow big in Cherokee Reservoir due to low summer dissolved oxygen levels and high temperatures. During the late fall and early spring, many move upstream to the John Sevier Steam Plant. The average weight of stripers in netting surveys is about 10 pounds.

Black and blacknose crappies are stocked in the Cherokee Lake due to minimal natural reproduction coupled with high demands by anglers.  There is a 15-fish, 10-inch size limit of any combination of crappie. Saugeye, the hybrid cross of sauger and walleye, is naturally found where both species are stocked and present.

Walleye and Sauger tend to not be as successful in Cherokee Reservoir as Saugeye. Sauger is well adapted to the warm, turbid waters of Cherokee Lake but has a hard time reproducing. There is a 15-inch length limit with a creel limit of 10 fish in any combination of the three species.

Paddlefish are sought after for their meat as well as for the caviar they carry, but anglers also regard them for their incredible sporting opportunity to catch a 100-pound fish in freshwater. Little is known about the life cycle of Paddlefish in Cherokee Reservoir due to their reclusive nature and difficulty in collecting them. Paddlefish are limited to 1 fish per day only during the paddlefish season, which is closed except from April 1st to the 15th for the entire lake. 

There are tons of fish attractors, brush piles, and downed trees in Cherokee Lake. Cherokee Lake is highly fertile and also supports large numbers of baitfish. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency planted water-loving trees such as water willows, swamp oaks, bald cypress, and river birch in shallow areas and maintains the fish attractors. 

Check out experienced local pro guides on our Cherokee Lake Fishing Guides page.

Boating Cherokee Lake 

The TVA designates much of Cherokee Lake as a nature preserve. Cherokee Lake sports many islands with beaches for picnics. Cherokee Lake offers 18 public boat launches plus private boat launches, four marinas, a sailing club, several marine supply shops, and four restaurants on the water with many more nearby in the surrounding towns.

Most marinas offer full service, including boat rentals, accommodations, supplies, and fishing tackle. Cherokee Lake is a full recreational lake that allows jet skis, water skiing, swimming, tubing, fishing, and other water activities. You can rent all kinds of boats at the marinas and a few other businesses around the lake.

Shop or sell a boat on our Cherokee Lake Boats for Sale page. 

Plan your trip to Cherokee Lake by calling one of the marinas today on our Cherokee Lake Marinas page. 

Cherokee Lake Rental Cabins

There are plenty of rental cabins on Cherokee Lake, from glamping cabins to rustic cabins to family size cabins. There are few vacation home rentals right on the water; they are located near Cherokee Lake in the towns and communities surrounding it. Book early because Cherokee Lake is popular during season. 

Find the perfect vacation home on our Cherokee Lake Cabins page.

Cherokee Lake Real Estate

Cherokee Lake real estate is a top twenty market in the state for lake homes and lake lots.The average list price of Cherokee Lake homes for sale is $433,000, but can run up to over $6,000,000. Generally, there are 60 lake homes for sale on Cherokee Lake, and 290 lake lots and parcels. The Hamblen County School District in Morristown serves the educational needs of Cherokee Lake. 

On the south side of Cherokee Lake, there are three Walmart Super Centers, in Jefferson City on the southern border, in Morristown on the upper end, and in Rogersville about five miles from the northern border of the lake. There are a couple of places with live music on the lake and a few nightclubs are in the towns around the lake, but you have to go to Knoxville to party, or throw your own. 

To find your dream home, explore our Cherokee Lake Homes For Sale page. 

Cherokee Lake Camping 

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) owns six campgrounds with hundreds of campsites operated by Recreation Resource Management (RRM) available from March 15 to November 15. RRM offers services like campground stores, wireless access, an online reservation system, and more. Some of the TVA campgrounds offer RV camping and are pet and handicap friendly. 

You will find the Cherokee Dam Campground near Jefferson City, Douglas Dam Headwater Campground and Tailwater Campground near Sevierville, Melton Hill Campground near Lenoir City, Pickwick Dam Campground near Savannah, and Watauga Campground near Elizabethton. They offer different amenities, like boat launches, day-use areas, fishing, hiking trails, meeting places, playgrounds, pavilions, sports courts, swim beaches, and Wi-Fi.

Panther Creek has 50 campsites with water and 20, 30, and 50-amp electrical hookups, grills, picnic tables, and fire rings. Eight of the campsites have sewer hookups. There are two bathhouses with hot showers and restrooms. A laundromat is open year-round, and there is a dump station for self-contained trailer rigs. You can purchase firewood, ice, and other basic supplies at the Camp Store, which is open seasonally. It is closed from November through mid-April. Wi-Fi is available, but limited. The maximum stay is two weeks.

There are several other privately owned campgrounds with most of the same amenities as the TVA campgrounds and tent and RV camping. On the south side of Cherokee Lake, campers have a view of the Smoky Mountains only 30 miles away. Rolling hills stretch along its northern border. Cherokee Lake boasts a peaceful atmosphere in a rural getaway. 

Check out our list of campgrounds and RV parks for your family adventure on our Cherokee Lake Camping page. 

Hiking Cherokee Lake 

TVA manages two trails around Cherokee Lake for hikers, runners, and walkers. The Cherokee Cross Country Trail is 4.7 miles long. Over a mile of this trail is paved, which makes it great for strollers and wheelchairs. The rest of the trail is relatively flat and surfaced with packed, crushed gravel; it makes a good off-road trail for joggers and walkers. This trail is on the Cherokee Dam Reservation, which is located about five miles north of Jefferson City, Tennessee, on Hwy. 92

The TVA Johnson Ridge Trail is 1.7 mile long easy trail on the north side of Cherokee Lake in Bean Station. It runs along the shoreline for almost all of its entire length. When the water is low, large boulders are exposed and offer great places to sit and observe nature. Both TVA trails offer parking and hiking. The Cross Country Trail has a bathroom and is ADA accessible. The Johnson Ridge Trail offers hunting and camping. 

Panther Creek State Park is a 1,444-acre park located on the Cherokee Reservoir, six miles west of Morristown. The park has 17 different hiking trails covering over 30 miles of terrain at all levels of difficulty. Hikers can enjoy magnificent views of Cherokee Lake and the Cumberland Mountains from the Point Lookout Trail reaching 1,460 feet above sea level. There are also over 15 miles of mountain biking trails that range from easy to difficult.

Hunting Cherokee Lake 

The TVA offers hunting on undeveloped public lands. Hunting is not allowed on TVA developed public lands, such as recreation areas, campgrounds, and trails. The TVA owns 8,186 acres of public land on Cherokee Lake.

Easily accessible areas get quite a bit of hunting pressure. But you will find some of the best hunting on TVA land without road access, on islands, and land cut off from public roads by private property. 

Duck hunting is popular on Cherokee Lake. In Tennessee, big game includes white-tailed deer, bear, elk and turkey. Small game includes woodcock, rails, coot, snipe, and crow. Waterfowl includes ducks, geese, doves, and sandhill cranes. Furbearers include beaver, bobcat, fox, mink, and coyote.

Things to Do at Cherokee Lake

Cherokee Lake lies in an extremely rural area with a few restaurants around it, some alcohol, and a whole lot of serenity. There are more restaurants in the towns and communities scattered around the lake. Cherokee Lake is the primary attraction at Cherokee Lake. 

The Clinchview Golf Club, located at 970 Highway 11W, Bean Station, Tennessee, offers a course with a covered wooden bridge, four water hazards, numerous berms, trees, and natural areas on an 18-hole course featuring a gentle rolling terrain, and you can bring your own cooler of beer. 

The Briarwood Auto Safari, located at 255 Briar Thicket Rd, Bybee, Tennessee, about five miles south of Cherokee Lake from Morristown, offers a scenic, four-mile safari through beautiful hills and pasture lands where you will experience animals from six continents. You can take your time studying their behavior from the safety of your own car and take lots of photographs. The park also offers tractor-pulled wagon rides, a store, restrooms, a picnic area, and a petting zoo. The safari is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Sunday, weather permitting.

The Morristown Farmers Market, located at 130 West Morris Boulevard, Morristown, Tennessee, is a place to take the grandparents, grandchildren, is pet friendly, and a way to enjoy a beautiful day. This outdoor venue supports all kinds of vendors, with music on the weekends. It is only three miles south of the upper end of Cherokee Lake. 

Check out our What To Do At Cherokee Lake page.

Cherokee Lake Weather & Climate 

Cherokee Lake sees an average of 45 inches of rain per year, with 10 inches of snow per year and 202 days of sunshine. The winter low in January is 26 degrees and sees a summer high in July of 86 degrees. September, May and October are the most pleasant months in Hamblen County, while January and December are the least comfortable months.

Keep an eye on the skies at our Cherokee Lake Weather Page. 

Cherokee Lake Zip Codes

Grainger County: 37861, 37814

Jefferson County: 37760, 37820

Hamblen County: 37814

Hawkins County: 37857

Cherokee Lake Flora and Fauna

Tennessee has water birds, forest birds, grassland and shrub birds, and over 100 common birds. You can see wild boars, bobcats, black bears, cougars, coyotes, elk, deer, gray and red foxes, and turkeys. Bobcats, bears, and coyotes are elusive. There are also snakes and turtles and lizards to watch out for. 

In early spring, 64 wild flowers commence their spectacular shows and continue throughout the growing season. Trees are primarily deciduous and mixed hardwood deciduous with a mixture of cedars, elms, oaks, and pines, along with black cherry, box elder, and sugar maples, to name a few. 

Cherokee Lake Email Updates


Cherokee Lake Current Weather Alerts

There are no active watches, warnings or advisories.


Cherokee Lake Weather Forecast


Partly Sunny

Hi: 85

Wednesday Night

Slight Chance Thunderstorms

Lo: 64


Rain Showers

Hi: 78

Thursday Night

Rain Showers

Lo: 62


Rain Showers Likely

Hi: 81

Friday Night

Chance Thunderstorms

Lo: 63


Rain Showers Likely

Hi: 82

Saturday Night

Rain Showers Likely

Lo: 64

Cherokee Lake Water Level (last 30 days)

Water Level on 5/22: 824.10 (-248.90)

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